Adventures with Perry

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DammitDan
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Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:04 pm

Day 8 - New York City

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I woke up early and excited for the 200-mile drive ahead of us… Today Perry and I would make our way through Manhattan. I ate a light breakfast of a granola bar and a gelatin fruit cup while Perry inhaled his bowl of dog food. After securing the luggage to the rig, I took a moment to reserve a ticket for the next day’s trip across the Long Island Sound on the Orient Point ferry. The ferry website didn’t have an option to reserve a spot for a “sidecar motorcycle”, so I selected “motorcycle - trike” instead, placed the $38 charge on my credit card and hoped for the best. I performed the Ural’s regular morning safety inspection: tire pressure, fluids, lights, checked for any loosened nuts or bolts, and gave a strong shake of the contents of the luggage rack before loading up and heading out of the French Creek campground at 7:30am.

Not far down the road the low fuel lamp started blinking. I pulled the rig off the highway and into an elaborately landscaped travel fuel station. After releasing Perry from the sidecar, I clipped his leash to the luggage rack and proceeded to refill the tank. Perry started whining at me to use the bathroom, so I drove the Ural around to a parking spot, put him on the long leash and followed him around as he chose the right spot to do his business. As we walked further away from the traffic on the manicured lawn, I let him off the leash, and he bounded toward a nearby ornamental pond. Perry had just leaned in to get a good sniff at the base of a clump of willows, when suddenly his front paws slipped and he tumbled into the water headfirst. I rolled with laughter as Perry clambered out of the pond, but my outburst of mirth had clearly hurt his feelings, and he slunk away to the other side of the pond in seeming embarrassment. I remembered my sister’s apt description of Perry’s emotional sensitivity - “Little thoughts, big feelings.”

After apologizing to Perry and drying him off, we made our way to the first official stop of the morning - the NAPA auto parts store in a beautiful little town named Pennsburg. Row houses lined the streets, and immediately upon passing the welcome sign, I was struck by two things: a warm, deliciously inviting smell of chocolate that seemed to permeate the town’s northern thoroughfare, and a series of cold political signs that read, “NO NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL!” These signs seemed to be everywhere; stuck to the inside of windows, hanging from porches, posted in yards, some small and others quite large. I made a mental note to ask a local what the signs were about as Perry and I pulled into a parking space in front of the NAPA store. I bought a spin-on oil filter that would fit the Ural, a packet of heavy duty zip ties and a small roll of duct tape - all necessary items that I had foolishly left behind in my garage in Tennessee. On the way out to stow my purchases I noticed a man on the sidewalk staring at the rig in silence. After spending a few seconds of simply soaking in the view, he introduced himself as Clare and asked a few questions about the rig and our trip. He was interested in antique motorcycles, so he may have been a little disappointed when I told him the Ural was nearly brand new - it just looked antique. I told him about the Adventures with Perry page and he offered to take a photo of the rig. He held up his iPad and with a quickly snapped picture of Perry in the sidecar, we said our farewells and he continued walking on his way. I only remembered afterwards that I should have asked him what those middle school signs were all about, but I felt that chasing him down to ask might be overdoing it.

Perry and I cut our way through Eastern Pennsylvania following a series of state highways, through a number of small towns and rural communities. Blue skies beckoned us onward but Perry was getting antsy in the sidecar; I needed to find a place to take another break. The perfect spot revealed itself just a few miles up the road - the Lake Nockamixon spillway. The impressive wall of powerfully surging whitewater caught my eye as we passed, and I turned the rig around to park at a small overlook. I let Perry off the leash to explore, and he led me into the forest to a break in the fence and out onto a rock overhang that offered a perfect view of the spillway. I took the opportunity to snap a few photos, then we made our way back to the bench at the overlook point so I could catch up on my notes. While I was there I took a photo for a family with the spillway in the background, and from a few other visitors I found out that our timing was just right; the spillway wasn’t active very often, and the sight of millions of gallons of water cascading down the stepped rocky embankment is exhilarating. Perry and I spent nearly half an hour relaxing with roar of water in the background before continuing on our way.

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The towns gave way back to farmlands as we approached the New Jersey border, and soon we got stuck behind a state highway maintenance tractor mowing the ditch. The operator trundled along at an even 15 mile per hour pace, but rather than getting impatient I was mesmerized by his skillful use of the hydraulic side-lift to pull the mowing deck up and over every obstruction in his path - mailboxes, road signs, fence posts - without ever slowing his pace. After a couple of miles he found a pull-off to let me pass, and I gave him a wave and a big thumbs up on the way by. Not far ahead the road narrowed to a single lane through something I never thought I would see again - a beautiful covered bridge. The last one I had seen had stood at Port Royal in Clarksville, Tennessee for nearly a century, but the bridge had been destroyed in a tornado that had ripped the city apart in 1998. The gorgeous Erwinna covered bridge had been standing on its stone foundations since its construction in 1832, and it sported a fresh coat of bright red and white paint with an American flag pinned under the eaves of the roof. After a stop for a few photos, Perry and I headed on to the state line to cross the Delaware River at Frenchtown, New Jersey.

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Almost immediately upon entering New Jersey the landscape began to shift. Communities through Flemington and Bridgewater became more industrial and compact the closer we got to New York City, and at Newark I guided the rig onto Interstate-78 for our final approach. We were treated to our first view of Manhattan as we reached the Hudson River Bay, then made our way through Jersey City and dove into the Holland Tunnel. I had chosen the Holland Tunnel as our entry point to Manhattan because of Travels with Charley; in an exhausted state and desperate to get home, Steinbeck had tried to drive his camper pickup through the Holland Tunnel but was turned away by a police officer. He was told his butane tanks were prohibited in the Tunnel. Steinbeck appealed, “How am I going to get home? I just want to get home,” to which the officer kindly offered directions to the Hoboken ferry. Since I wasn’t carrying any butane, I decided to go the route that Steinbeck had wanted to follow; soon enough Perry and I were driving through the claustrophobic white-tiled Holland Tunnel beneath the Hudson River.

We popped up on the other side of the river seemingly in another world. Manhattan was simultaneously vast and confined, with pedestrians on every sidewalk and vehicles crowding each other everywhere. I had mapped a route that would take us up the West Side, down through Times Square, then around and through Central Park and back down the East Side to the Brooklyn Bridge. Perry was in his element in the city. He wagged his tail and gave his tongue-lolling smile to the pedestrians, and I laughed as people walking by did double-takes, pointing and smiling back at him. As we passed a little boy waiting next to his mother at a crosswalk, I saw her point to us and I smiled and waved when his jaw fell open. Entire crowds in Times Square seemed to stop short and snapped photos as we passed, and a woman walking a pack of dogs started jumping up and down excitedly when she spotted us driving through Central Park. I had always assumed that New Yorkers were a “head down, eyes front” kind of folk, but Perry seemed to bring out the best in people. I have never seen so many smiles in so short a period.

The blue skies had turned gray as we made our way through the city, and a light drizzle began to fall as we turned south toward the Brooklyn Bridge. I pulled the Ural off the FDR at the United Nations complex to don our rain gear, and I snapped a quick photo of Perry in the sidecar with the Empire State Building in the distance. While I packed the camera back in the trunk, I heard a thick voice behind me, “I never thought I would see one of these again!” I turned to see a tall older man carrying a leather briefcase grinning at the Ural. He had a long, clean-shaven face and dark hair flecked with gray, and was dressed in a dark three piece suit with a light brown overcoat. He introduced himself as Mikhail, a Russian immigrant who had come of age riding in Dnepr sidecars in the Soviet Union, and he told me he hadn’t seen a Russian sidecar rig since he was a teenager. When I asked what they had been used for on that side of the world, he explained they were mostly used by police, but because they were so handy in mud and snow many rural families also used sidecar rigs to run for groceries or to commute to work. He said he had driven several Dnepr sidecars in his youth, and he seemed truly amazed to see a new one driving around New York City. With a fond farewell and a wish of good luck, Mikhail waved goodbye as Perry and I made our way back to the FDR to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

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I had chosen the worst possible time to plan our escape from the city. 5pm rolled by as we inched along with the traffic across the East River and through Brooklyn, then continued crawling forty more miles on I-495 for the next two hours. In my planning I discovered that a hotel room would be only slightly more expensive than any campground I could find on Long Island, so our destination that evening would be our first indoor stay in nearly a week. I managed to run out of gas just as traffic started moving again, this time in the far-inside HOV lane; I desperately struggled to force the sputtering Ural across four lanes of traffic to the enclosed narrow shoulder on the right. I used the jerry can to refill the tank and just a few miles down the road we pulled into the hotel parking lot. After unloading the Ural and packing the gear into the room, I made plans to get a jump on my laundry. I cranked up the air conditioning and thoroughly enjoyed my first hot shower in a week. I came out of the bathroom feeling refreshed and found Perry already passed out on one of the beds; laundry forgotten in realization of my own exhaustion, I soon followed suit and fell asleep with an empty belly and the lights still blazing just past 8pm.



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Last edited by DammitDan on Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Dammit, Dan!
Clarksville, TN

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2016 Ural Gear Up
2006 Kawaski ZG1000 Concours "The Racing Mule"

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1980 Yamaha XS850 triple
1976 Honda GL1000 Goldwing
1981 Yamaha XS650 twin cafe bike
1983 Honda CB650 four aka The Redheaded Stepchild

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DammitDan
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:20 pm

The video of our drive through Manhattan:

https://youtu.be/YsYdJxrs9mE


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Dammit, Dan!
Clarksville, TN

Current Bikes
2016 Ural Gear Up
2006 Kawaski ZG1000 Concours "The Racing Mule"

Former Bikes
1980 Yamaha XS850 triple
1976 Honda GL1000 Goldwing
1981 Yamaha XS650 twin cafe bike
1983 Honda CB650 four aka The Redheaded Stepchild

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DammitDan
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Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:31 pm

Kaliram wrote:What kind of hammock and fly are you hanging with?

I have a Warbonnet Blackbird and love it, with its widened footbox. - it’s hard to think of sleeping on the ground in a tent!

:)
I use a Hennessy Explorer Deluxe zip with a Hennessy XL Hex rainfly. I’ve also used a DD SuperLight Jungle Hammock and LOVED it (even used it on a cross-country solo trip), but it was just a little too short for my 6’2 frame, so I went back to the trusty Hennessy.

I’m probably going with a different rainfly in the near future... the seams on the XL Hex are starting to come apart after 5 years of pretty heavy use, and I’m looking for something a bit bigger to accommodate Perry’s folding kennel, too.

Also, thanks for the happy thoughts, everyone!


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Last edited by DammitDan on Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dammit, Dan!
Clarksville, TN

Current Bikes
2016 Ural Gear Up
2006 Kawaski ZG1000 Concours "The Racing Mule"

Former Bikes
1980 Yamaha XS850 triple
1976 Honda GL1000 Goldwing
1981 Yamaha XS650 twin cafe bike
1983 Honda CB650 four aka The Redheaded Stepchild

chopfather
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by chopfather » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:55 pm

Thank you for continuing to update, this is great to read.
Rick Current Bikes- 2018 Ural Gear Up
'91 HD Sportster
'81 Yamaha XS650 - 2 of them, both works in progress
'2015 Coleman CT200U minibike

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DammitDan
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:58 pm

Quick update... I had planned to work on editing the next post while I spent the weekend with the family, but unfortunately I couldn’t find the alone time to get the work done. The next post isn’t quite ready yet, but I’ll have it ready for you on Wednesday!


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Dammit, Dan!
Clarksville, TN

Current Bikes
2016 Ural Gear Up
2006 Kawaski ZG1000 Concours "The Racing Mule"

Former Bikes
1980 Yamaha XS850 triple
1976 Honda GL1000 Goldwing
1981 Yamaha XS650 twin cafe bike
1983 Honda CB650 four aka The Redheaded Stepchild

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Kaliram
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by Kaliram » Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:23 pm

DammitDan wrote:
Kaliram wrote:What kind of hammock and fly are you hanging with?

I have a Warbonnet Blackbird and love it, with its widened footbox. - it’s hard to think of sleeping on the ground in a tent!

:)
I use a Hennessy Explorer Deluxe zip with an Hennessy XL Hex rainfly. I’ve also used a DD SuperLight Jungle Hammock and LOVED it (even used it on a cross-country solo trip), but it was just a little too short for my 6’2 frame, so I went back to the trusty Hennessy.

I’m probably going with a different rainfly in the near future... the seams on the XL Hex are starting to come apart after 5 years of pretty heavy use, and I’m looking for something a bit bigger to accommodate Perry’s folding kennel, too.

Also, thanks for the happy thoughts, everyone!


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Warbonnet Outdoors has some great rainflies. You might want to check them out. The SuperFly is very large, and has “doors” at each end, giving lots of protection from the elements.

https://www.warbonnetoutdoors.com/

I’m not affiliated with them: just a very happy customer whose “hung” with a lotta folks in the “hanging” Community. A group of us used to hammock camp in Colorado in the middle of every winter, using their hammocks, flys, and quilts, and were quite comfy at -2 degrees F.!
Current ride: 2019 Ural Gear Up, O.D. Green (“Jyoti”)
Blasts in the past: 2016 Ural Gear Up ("Shanti ")
2012 Ural Gear Up ("Tootles")
2009 KLX250, 2009 KLR650, 2004 BMW R1150GSA, 1966 Honda 305 SuperHawk

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sagerat
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by sagerat » Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:05 pm

Great ride report. I’ve got a Henessey that’s about 20 years old and it’s amazingly comfy. Not too impressed with fly, though.
2004 Ural Tourist (2004-2018, 48,000 klicks)

2012 Ural Gobi (Forward to the horizon)

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DammitDan
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Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:42 pm

Day 9 - Long Island Sound

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Getting to the Cross Sound ferry was our primary goal of the day, and everything hinged on arriving at least 15 minutes prior to the ferry’s scheduled 12:30 departure. The ferry’s website had been adamant: even if the scheduled ferry was still docked and loading, any late comers were relegated to wait for the next available ferry on an indefinite standby status. A scant 60 miles separated Perry and me from the launch at Orient Point, so I wasn’t too worried about missing our arrival window.

I awoke at 8am with the plan to use the hotel’s self-service laundry to give my wardrobe a w@$#. My pockets jingling with the currency of laundromats, I headed downstairs with my mesh bag bulging with dirty clothes only to discover that the $9 weighing down my pockets wouldn’t satisfy the hotel’s extortionist laundry expectations. A dollar for a single load of powdered detergent. Another dollar for a single fabric softener sheet. $2.75 for a run of the dryer, and $3.00 for the w@$#ing machine. To add insult to injury, the pitifully small washer basins would have forced me to split my single normal load into two small loads, but I refused to pay more than $10 for what should be a single load of laundry on general principle. Instead I crammed my clothes into a single washer, counted out twelve quarters to start the machine, then headed back upstairs to soak my sore muscles in the hot shower. If everything went according to plan, Perry and I would be on the road by 10am with plenty of time to reach the ferry. Unfortunately, it was not to be an “according to plan” kind of day.

I walked into the laundry room just as the washer wound down from its spin cycle. I moved my clothes to the dryer, dropped $2.75 into the slot and selected the hottest setting. Using the intervening time to load my gear onto the Ural, I returned 45 minutes later to carry the clothes back to the room for folding - only to discover that every piece of clothing was still damp. I had learned long ago to never pack wet clothes into a drybag, but it was already past 10am; I was pushing my luck but left with little choice. I pulled the two remaining dollar bills from my wallet and power-walked to the front desk to request more quarters. Then, hoping it wouldn’t take so long to finish drying, I plunked another eleven quarters into the dryer and restarted the 45-minute cycle; so much for general principle.

The temptation to stop the dryer every 5 minutes to check for dampness was nigh overwhelming, but I managed to hold off my first inspection till the 15-minute mark had passed - still damp. Ten minutes later, slightly drier but still not enough. I waited as long as I dared, and with ten minutes remaining on the dryer’s timer I decided to pull everything regardless of dampness. I practically sprinted back upstairs with the laundry in my arms, heedlessly folded and packed the drybag and headed downstairs to check out and load up. The clock turned over 11am as Perry and I pulled out of the hotel parking lot.

Inputting our destination into Google Maps offered a sobering prediction: if there were no slowdowns, Perry and I would arrive at 12:20 - five minutes past the arrival deadline. “No problem,” I thought to myself, “I’ll just go 10mph over the speed limit and I should make up the time.” Following yesterday’s follies, the Ural was left with slightly more than half a tank of fuel and no time to stop, but it should be just enough to get us to the ferry.

I hammered down on the throttle as we pulled onto I-495 in the late Long Island morning. Pushing the rig past 75 miles per hour to make time, the light traffic raised my spirits as I whipped the Ural down the pancake-flat highway. Perry loved the morning breeze at first, his nose held high drawing heavy sniffs, but soon enough he matched my hunkered stance bent low against the oncoming blast of wind. I was filled with elation when Google Maps updated our arrival time to 12:19, then 12:18 - minute by minute, my plan was working. I threw a tiny celebration when, just before the halfway mark, our arrival time dropped to 12:14. Then the three gloriously open lanes of I-495 came to an abrupt end, dumping Perry and me onto the dubiously named “Old Country Road” - a cramped two-lane local highway that forced both my speed and my heart to sink.

Traffic only got worse the further we went, and for the next 30 miles the road seemed to wend its way through every hamlet and village on the eastern arm of Long Island. The speed limit dropped to 25 mph for miles on end, and local traffic seemed perfectly content to amble along below that speed. There were no shoulders or passing zones, and at a series of lengthy red lights I could only watch in despair as my arrival time slowly counted back up to its original estimate. With ten miles to go we had only eight minutes till the ferry left. There was no way we would make it on time, and I began to wonder how long we would have to wait on standby. 12:30 rolled around with three miles still left to go, and thirty seconds later I burst out with a dry laugh when the Ural let me know that, had I managed to beat the clock, we still wouldn’t have made it to the ferry. With a final cough, the engine died and I coasted off NY-25 to a stop on a lonely street named “Old Main Road” just two miles from the Orient Point ferry. For the first time on the trip I had actually run out of gas.

It wasn’t difficult to figure out what had happened, because it wasn’t the first time I had made the mistake. When I initially purchased the Ural in preparation for the trip, my father and I had taken a flight to Chicago to pick it up and drive it back home. Crossing the central Illinois farmlands we ran headlong into a heavy rainstorm and fierce headwinds; I found myself twisting the throttle wide open just to maintain a safe speed on the 2-lane highway. My father, on the other hand, struggled to stay dry in the sidecar - at our stopover in Champaign, Illinois he said, “It was like being out in a bathtub in a hurricane.” The next morning he was both concerned and relieved to find out that I couldn’t get the Ural started; concerned to find it wouldn’t start, and relieved to find he wouldn't have to endure the remaining 300 miles as a sidecar monkey.

While he made plans to rent a car for the rest of the trip home I worked with the dealer on the phone trying to diagnose the issue. The first question they asked was, “Does it have gas in it?” I told them that I could hear gas sloshing in the tank, and besides I had stopped to refuel less than 75 miles before stopping for the night and the low fuel light had never illuminated. A good deal of back-and-forth later, it turned out the fuel level sensor inside the gas tank had died - or had never lived to begin with - so I had no idea that the Ural had completely run out of fuel just as we reached the hotel parking lot. To make matters worse the fuel pump on the Ural isn’t self-priming; even with additional fuel added to the tank, any air trapped inside the pump - say, from trying to pump liquid from an empty tank - would prevent the engine from receiving fuel. The dealer walked me through the process of purging and priming the fuel pump: remove a rubber hose on the pump, wait until gasoline sprays all over you, then replace the hose - fine Russian engineering.

With the Ural fired back up I asked my Dad if he wanted to return the rental and ride home with me, but he preferred to follow me home, “Just in case you break down again.” After a single day of long-distance sidecar travel, his days of long-distance sidecar travel were done. The break down was solved, but I was still left with the burning question of WHY we had run out of fuel. We had only gone 75 miles since the last fill-up, and the Ural was estimated to get 30-35 miles per gallon with its five-gallon fuel tank. The dealer answered that question on our final call: the estimated fuel efficiency was just that: an estimate. In my attempt to maintain highway speed in a driving headwind and rain, I had pushed the Ural’s 41-horsepower engine to the its fuel efficiency limits, dropping from 30-35 miles per gallon to 12-15 miles per gallon. Lesson learned - avoid fully opening the throttle or the Ural will guzzle gasoline. In my wide-open-throttle haste to reach the ferry, it was a lesson I was now kicking myself for forgetting.

Living on the edge truly makes life more interesting, but it certainly doesn’t make it any less stressful. I was now trapped in a dead zone; I couldn’t remember spotting any gas stations on the way in, and I didn’t want to leave the Ural and all of my gear sitting on the side of the road. The data connection on my phone was non-existent, but I found I could get a single bar of cellular signal if I stood on my head and waved my feet in a tree-like fashion. I contacted Triple-A to request assistance, and three frustrating disconnects later I was told a truck was on its way and scheduled to arrive at 2:15 - nearly a two-hour wait. Disheartened at the delay, I set about unpacking my camp chair and unfolding Perry’s cot, and in the shade of a tree overlooking a bay that opened to the Atlantic, Perry and I settled in to wait. Perry decided that he didn’t want to use his cot, instead crawling into the nearby tangle of bushes and undergrowth to lay down. Meanwhile, I called the ferry terminal and was told that they could probably fit us onto a later ferry, so long as we made the trip today - otherwise I would have to go through a transfer process to buy a new ticket. My hope renewed, I sat back in my camp chair and worked on updating my notebook.

Triple-A texted an update at 2:15 to let me know that their arrival time had been pushed to 3:15. As it turns out, breaking down on the furthest reaches on Long Island is bad if you have a desperate need to be somewhere. When 3:15 came and went I started to get anxious, but 15 minutes later a white Triple-A van pulled up and the driver got out apologizing for his tardiness; apparently there were several streets named “Old Main Road” snaking around Orient Point and it hadn’t been easy to find me. He provided all of a gallon of fuel then stood aside while I purged and primed the fuel pump - thankfully I hadn’t forgotten THAT lesson - and the Ural fired back up. I vigorously shook the Triple-A driver’s hand and offered my sincere thanks and $20 for getting us back on the road - he accepted the thanks but refused the cash. Our gear re-packed and Perry loaded up in the sidecar, I pulled the Ural back onto the highway for the final 2-mile stint to the ferry. I gave an ironic bark of laughter when we passed a gas station less than a mile further up the road. Such is fate.

We reached the busy Cross Sound ferry terminal at 3:40. It was crowded with dozens upon dozens of vehicles, worrying me that we might not be able to cross the Long Island Sound for hours to come. Perry and I parked and went inside the terminal office to explain our situation and plead for a space on an upcoming ferry. The friendly women working at the front desk were sympathetic - I think Perry’s grin and wagging tail helped our cause immensely. They directed us to the front of an empty loading lane - number four - to wait for further instruction. Each of the eight other lanes were packed with long lines of waiting vehicles, so it felt a little odd to skip to the front of my own line. While we waited I got a front-row seat to the intricately choreographed ballet of serious-looking red-shirted wranglers as they shouted, whistled, pointed and cursed vehicles into place on the Mary Ellen, the ferry that was currently loading for a 4pm departure. I was so distracted by the spectacle that I only vaguely heard one of the nearby red-shirt’s radios spit, “FOUR ROLLING BACKWARD!” I realized with a start it was referring to me. I grabbed the brakes in a panic just as the nearest wrangler looked over at me and made eye contact; when I waved sheepishly he grinned and threw his head back in a laugh. A few minutes later I got an unexpected whistle in my direction - the red-shirts were directing ME onto the currently waiting ferry. The Ural was the very last vehicle to load onto the Mary Ellen, and undocking procedures began even as I was directed into a cozy nook beneath the stairwell.

As the ferry pulled out of the slip we were directed to get out of our vehicles and head upstairs to the passenger deck. I met a tall, wiry man named Jeff who walked up to the Ural from his truck parked alongside us. After the standard, “What’s that thing?” series of questions he asked where we were headed; I got my phone out to show him our route, and when I pointed out northern Maine he lit up and he suggested some great places for off-roading near where we would be camping in a few days. Everyone was shooed upstairs by impatient deckhands before we could talk any further - no passengers were allowed in the vehicle area while the boat was undocked - so we headed upstairs for the remainder of the trip. Jeff and I talked for another 15 minutes about what to expect on the drive through Maine, and he suggested I should download an off-road navigation app called Rider X if I really wanted to explore the area. I thanked him and wrote his suggestions down in my notebook, then excused myself for Perry and I to explore the rest of the Mary Ellen.

The majority of the main passenger deck was indoors, and the large open cabin a strange amalgam of an airport terminal waiting area and a diner with tables and booths. There was a small galley up front where food could be purchased - cash only - and a series of thick, heavy metal doors coated in chipped white paint which separated the cabin from the outside decks. When I pushed open the door a blast of wind nearly pushed it closed again; I shouldered it open enough for Perry and me to pass through and stepped into the shining sunlight. Outside it was warm and comfortable, and a large number of passengers relaxed in the sun on long, white metal benches. I took Perry to the upper deck to watch his reaction to his first boat trip; he wagged his tail and sniffed vigorously into the wind, but he was over the spectacle after a mere 30 seconds. I chose a nearby bench and settled onto a spot on the upper deck while Perry enjoyed the cooing and petting he received from other passengers. The ferry crossing took an hour and 45 minutes, and I soon discovered the disadvantage of being the last one to load onto the ship - last vehicle on, last vehicle off. Perry and I were relieved to escape the choking fumes on the vehicle deck, and with the sun sitting low on the western horizon, the Ural, Perry and I entered Connecticut.

Our first stop was to find a gas station. Soon enough I had refilled the fuel tank and the jerry can, then I started making plans for that night’s stop. New England is cramped and crowded, leaving little room for the free dispersed campsites I had been making use of till this point. I had managed to find one while planning for the trip, but it was 85 miles away and the sun was beginning to set. Arriving at a dispersed campsite after dark isn’t a great idea, since you could easily drive right past it without realizing - I had made this mistake in New Mexico, resulting in a night spent squatting behind a welcome sign, hanging between the only two trees I could find in the darkness. I decided to forego the idea of trying to locate the dispersed Connecticut campsite in the dark, so we followed back roads for 40 miles to the outskirts of Hartford and booked a hotel room. I paid an extra $20 for a “pet friendly room” that smelled as though it had been friendlier to pets than to cleaning supplies, enjoyed a hot shower, called for a pizza to be delivered and relaxed in air conditioned comfort for the rest of the evening.
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Dammit, Dan!
Clarksville, TN

Current Bikes
2016 Ural Gear Up
2006 Kawaski ZG1000 Concours "The Racing Mule"

Former Bikes
1980 Yamaha XS850 triple
1976 Honda GL1000 Goldwing
1981 Yamaha XS650 twin cafe bike
1983 Honda CB650 four aka The Redheaded Stepchild

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DammitDan
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Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:21 pm

Day 10

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The Ural was in desperate need of an oil change, and the longer I waited the more I risked a catastrophic engine failure. The nearly-new engine had already suffered one such failure, fortunately much nearer to home while on a training run with Perry; a rocker arm had sheared in two at a mere 4000 kilometers, stranding Perry and me and sending the rig to the shop on a warranty claim for nearly two months. Rather than risk a repeat of that debacle, I made the primary goal of the day a full oil change - engine, transmission and final drive. Perry and I left the hotel at 9am and made a short jaunt to the nearby Autozone to complete the much needed maintenance.

In the preparation phase of the trip I had gathered a handy collection of supplies that would aid in performing service in the field: a sealed travel-friendly oil pan, oil bottles with hand-marked delineations, a variety of funnels customized to snake through the oddly shaped nooks to reach the Ural’s filler necks; these supplies would have been handy had I not left them all behind in my garage. As such, I was left with purchasing the next best alternative available on the road. The Autozone in Vernon, Connecticut offered only the bare essentials in oil change supplies; I bought an open oil pan, a set of funnels and the various types of oil to perform the maintenance. I also picked up a cheap LED headlamp before heading into the cool New England morning to service the Ural.

In the process of completing the upkeep I met a few interesting folks; a young man with tight long-hanging cornrows walked over while I lay supine emptying the crankcase oil, introducing himself as Q. “Just Q?” I asked. He chuckled in reply, “Yup, just Q.” After a few questions about the Ural and our trip, he asked what had been the most surprising thing I had learned so far. When I told him that my concept of New Yorkers as unfriendly, unsmiling jerks had been completely erased, he said, “Man, you should know all that stereotype stuff is bullshit… I’m from Brooklyn and we can be just as nice or mean as anyone else you meet, you just have to meet us first.” I told him that I had never traveled so far northeast, and I was happy to find out that my ideas of New Englanders were turning out to be completely wrong. He agreed, laughing, “But I bet having Perry along helps soften ‘em up first.” Before Q left he offered me his phone number, “In case you’re ever back in Brooklyn and need anything,” and threw us a big wave as he drove away.

While working to change the gear oil in the final drive, the Ural also drew in John, a middle aged man with a neatly trimmed beard. He had visited the Autozone while hunting for a replacement part for his boat. John was a former IT professional who now taught the subject at a local technical high school; when I asked him why he made the change, he said he made a good living working in IT, but he wasn’t happy in the work; he went into teaching because he wanted to make a difference rather than just a paycheck, and he had never regretted the change. John went on to tell the story of one such way he had made a difference in his students’ lives; a group of Freshman girls in his technology class had been discussing the older boyfriend of one of the girls - the boyfriend had been pressuring her to let him spend the night while her parents were out of town. John said the other girls in the group seemed to be talking “a little too loudly” in an attempt to get his attention, so he ambled over to address the group, “Let’s talk about choices… It may not always be the easiest, but what is always the best choice to make?’” The teenagers all turned towards the one, and John chuckled as he told me the young girl answered sheepishly, “The right choice?” as her friends nodded their approval. Later he found out that she had chosen to not let her boyfriend stay over, “And that young lady went on to graduate with honors… Who knows what might have happened if I hadn’t been there to help guide her toward the right choice?” John explained that it was those little moments that could make or break a young person’s life, and just being there when it mattered was more fulfilling than any regular job could offer.

Wrapping up the oil change, John and I moved to the curb to continue talking for a few more minutes while Perry napped in the nearby shade. Autozone hadn’t offered the part he was looking for, so he soon headed on with a fond farewell to continue his search. While in the process of packing everything away, I soon came to the conclusion that there wasn’t room on the motorcycle for the oversized oil pan and extra funnels. Carrying the pan into the store to recycle the spent oil, I told the employee that I didn’t want to throw everything away, so I suggested if he wanted to give the pan and funnels to anyone he should feel free. The young man shifted uncomfortably, “I don’t really think… uh… I don’t know... ” I relieved his consternation with a quick, “Or, if you can’t find anyone you could just throw them away.” I thanked him as I laid the pan and funnels on the counter, then headed outside to awaken Perry and get back on the road. As I pulled on my helmet I heard someone yell out, “HEY! Thanks a lot, buddy!” I turned to see a man hoisting the funnels and pan over his head at me as he walked to his car. I gave him a smile and a thumbs up as I fired up the Ural.

The engine was now smoothly ticking like a well-oiled sewing machine. The skies had turned overcast by 11am when we pulled back onto the highway and headed north toward Massachusetts. Stopping for a water break in the thick pine forests just past the state line, we turned off the highway to follow an overgrown jeep trail that soon disappeared into the underbrush. Perry trotted off to explore after getting his fill from the water bowl, and soon returned wagging his tail and whining for me to follow. He had sniffed out a hidden path through the brush, and as I followed his lead I saw a flash of bright red and yellow through the trees. Calling Perry back, I cautiously slowed my advance; about fifty yards past the end of the jeep trail I spotted an elaborate stealth campsite with several large tents, folding tables, camp chairs and a charcoal grill. There were no signs of any inhabitants but the camp was clearly still in use, so to be safe I decided not to approach and headed back to the Ural.

Perry had meanwhile picked up another scent and headed on a tangent into the woods, refusing to listen when I called for him. I spent nearly twenty minutes chasing him through the underbrush in an attempt to corral him back to the rig; when I finally caught up to him my temper got the best of me and I yelled at him for not listening; he sheepishly laid down and rolled to show me his belly, and I offered him soft reassurances and stroking to show him that I wasn’t going to hit him. Using the negative reinforcement of physical violence may work for the average dog, but Perry was far from average. My sister had taught me that I needed to treat Perry more like a PTSD survivor - “Little thoughts, big feelings.” Perry had been a feral puppy, and must have experienced some major physical trauma before he was adopted; when his PTSD triggered the fear of violence would take complete control, making it nearly impossible to get any command through to him. Rather than escalate, I had learned the solution was to relieve the stressful trigger. After a few light words of encouragement, Perry stood up to let me clip a leash to his harness. Happily wagging his tail, I gently led him back to the sidecar and he hopped in.

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We skirted the western perimeter of Worcester as we made our way across Massachusetts, and I soon noticed an abnormally high number of antique shops scattered across the state. At one point it seemed like there was an antique shop on every corner, making me wonder how these folks could make a living with so much competition all around them. The existence of these shops points to the rich history of the area, but we didn’t have time to stop and browse. Instead Perry and I headed to our next stop to resupply at Ural of New England in Boxborough, Massachusetts. The dealership had a unique setup - all of their inventory was housed in two large buildings, one made of metal and glass containing a wide assortment of classic and exotic European vehicles, the other an old wooden barn where the Urals were stabled. I leashed Perry outside in the shade and headed inside the barn to meet Thiago, the Ural parts manager.

I provided Thiago with a laundry list of spare parts I needed, and he invited me upstairs to their “parts warehouse” - a cramped, musty hay loft filled with shelves containing row upon row of bins that seemed to hold every Ural part imaginable. As I read out my shopping list, Thiago knew where each part was stowed and went straight to the correct bin to pick what I needed. He even suggested a few extra items to carry along: a couple of plastic fuel injector caps and an extra “rubber donut” connecting the transmission to the drive shaft. Hopefully I wouldn’t need them, but simply having them provided peace of mind. Ural dealerships had a tendency to be few and far between, so a degree of self-reliance was necessary to undertake a cross-country trip. I also bought a few extra oil filters, new sets of brake pads, a mount for my phone, a couple of heavy duty innertubes and a replacement front tire to carry along. Thiago came out to meet Perry and look the Ural over; he complimented the setup and wished us good luck on the rest of our trip. With a final wave goodbye, Perry and I continued northeast toward New Hampshire.

Not far from Ural of New England I noticed the Ural making a new sound, a slight ticking that seemed to grow more intense whenever I accelerated. I bent down to get my ear closer to the noise and discovered it emanated from the left side of the engine. I looking closer I spotted the culprit - one of the acorn nuts holding the left exhaust header clamp to the engine was slowly unscrewing itself as I watched. The exhaust header clamp had become so loose enough that it would rattle violently with the slightest acceleration, so I quickly found a place to pull over to dig out and unfurl the Ural’s tool roll. It turned out that the acorn nuts holding both the left and right exhaust header clamps had loosened significantly. Re-torquing the nuts took only a few seconds, whereupon I went over the rest of the rig checking for any loose nuts or bolts. Finding none, I packed the tool roll away and thanked my lucky stars for having such sensitive hearing… a loose exhaust header could have ended up seriously damaging the valves. I added those exhaust header nuts to my ever-growing pre-drive safety checklist and remounted the much quieter Ural.

Traffic slowed our progress significantly as we skirted Boston and crossed into New Hampshire. The cramped backroads twisted through countless tiny communities, and by the time we turned onto US-1 a few miles south of the Maine state line I was starting to worry we might not make it to our destination before nightfall. The road surface of US-1 was badly damaged; the pavement was pockmarked by large fissures and deep potholes, forcing me to peg the throttle and throw my weight more than a few times to lift the sidecar wheel through patches that couldn’t be dodged. At 5pm I pulled off the highway to give Perry a break from the jarring ride, and I took the opportunity to play with him and capture a few photos in the golden sunlight of early evening.

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The shoreline communities were gorgeous, one after the next featuring houses that all seemed stereotypically “New England-y” - steep rooflines with elaborately corniced eaves, adirondack chairs lounging on comfortable porches, cozy cottages with flattened columns flanking their doors - there was a beauty in their design, an embrace of tidiness and symmetry. The highway stood away from the coastline, so Perry and I only seldom caught a glimpse of the Atlantic through the trees. Upon reaching the outskirts of Ogunquit, Maine, a resort community perched on the Atlantic coast, traffic came to a standstill - I had managed to hit rush hour in a town whose population claimed less than 900 people. The packed crowds of tourists had swollen Ogunquit far beyond its normal operating capacity, as was evidenced by the myriad of prominent “NO VACANCY” signs - even the town’s numerous RV parks and campgrounds were brimming with occupants. Fewer than 20 miles from our campground, I could only watch the minutes pass and the sun set on the glacial flow of traffic, and with a shiver I could tell the temperature was dropping along with it. Fortunately, the traffic eased as we reached the northern outskirts and our speed increased, and I began marking potential stealth camping sites on my GPS; I hadn’t called ahead to make a reservation at the Shamrock RV Park & Campground, and given what I had seen passing through Ogunquit I didn’t hold high hopes of snagging a vacancy there.

We reached our destination as twilight turned to dusk, and with fingers crossed I made my way into the main office. We were lucky; the young man behind the desk said they still had one campsite left, a tent site with electric hookups. I gladly shelled out the the extra $10 for the unneeded electrical access, happy to simply claim a place to sleep for the night. I managed to get the hammock and kennel set up just before darkness fell, playing with the new headlamp’s red LED mode to see if it would preserve my night vision. I must have been a pitiful sight; a couple of fellow campers passing by on an evening stroll expressed their concern for my apparent lack of illumination. I was in the process of supergluing the rubber bumpers in place on the new iPhone mount when one of them called out with a thick French accent, “Do you need any extra light? We can bring a lantern over for you to borrow…” “No thank you,” I replied distractedly, “I’ve got this headlamp and I’m used to setting up in these kinds of conditions... aaaaaand I just superglued my fingers together.” I hadn’t noticed the superglue that had squeezed from under the rubber bumper which now coated my thumb and index finger. I couldn’t see their expressions; she simply replied, “Oh, alright.” They returned a while later toting an electric lantern and asked again if I was sure I wouldn’t like some extra light? I was exhausted after traveling for nearly 10 hours and wasn’t eager to socialize, so I graciously thanked them for going out of their way to help but reiterated that my headlamp was more than adequate to suit my purposes.

While Perry slept in his kennel after his dinner, I prepared my classic noodles and sauce - with alfredo this time - and was in the process of enjoying an extra large cup of hot chocolate when I heard a rustling in the darkness between my picnic table and the back of the RV parked 15 feet away. Shining the headlamp in the direction of the noise, every muscle in my body went rigid when I spotted a thick flash of white on black; less than 10 feet away was the fattest skunk I had ever seen, serenely snuffling its way through the dry underbrush. The skunk momentarily froze when I caught it in the spotlight and turned to peer at me as I slowly pushed myself up to back away from the picnic table; one never does anything quickly when in close proximity to a skunk. Holding me in its gaze for a moment longer, the skunk concluded that I wasn’t a threat and continued rustling its way between the campsites, then headed across the lane to evaporate into darkness. I tried to catch a picture before it disappeared - the result being more ghostly than skunky.

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After the skunk encounter I quickly finished up my meal, cleaned my cooking kit and pre-packed as much of my gear as I could. If traffic continued its slow trend tomorrow I would have to be up early if I wanted to make the 175 miles to the next campsite near Deer Isle, Maine before the sun set. I crawled into my hammock in the chilly darkness, and soon fell asleep to the chorus of frogs and insects serenading all around me.


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Last edited by DammitDan on Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by Mikey » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:19 pm

These are riviting. Love them!
Posted via tablet or phone so please ignore any odd words (autocorrect).
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by bgenest » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:26 pm

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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:45 pm

Day 11 - Following the Atlantic Coast

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Maintenance, maintenance, and more maintenance. Designed with the tinkerer in mind, the Ural was more insistent on regular maintenance than any motorcycle I had ever owned. Fortunately, even in the field almost every component that might need servicing was fairly easy to access and maintain. Following Perry’s sunrise constitutional and packing up camp, I laid out the tool roll in the chilly Maine morning to replace the rig’s worn rear brake pads. The caliper came off easily enough - two large bolts were all that held it in place - but I couldn’t figure out how to push the brake piston back into the caliper to provide room for the fresh brake pads. Then I remembered why the nearly-new pads had to be changed in the first place: the parking brake mechanism that had caused all the additional wear was now preventing the brake piston from reseating. I unscrewed the adjuster to release the parking brake, but now I had to figure out how to apply leverage to the piston. This was normally a job easily performed by a simple hand-tightened c-clamp - yet another tool I had left behind. Improvising, I made use of the two tire spoons in my tool roll to apply the leverage needed to slowly push the piston back inside the caliper. The maintenance schedule may have been a pain, but the feeling of accomplishment that went along with a job well done more than made up for the inconvenience. Before 9am rolled around, Perry and I were back on US-1 headed north.

We stopped for Perry’s first break about 30 miles up the highway outside Scarborough, Maine, where I found a quiet park leading into a small cemetery. I sat down with my back against a shade tree to write while Perry headed into the woods behind the plots to explore. After half an hour he came trotting back to my tree, whining for me to follow; he had found something fun that he wanted to share. Behind the cemetery was a large pile of loose sandy dirt, ten feet high and more than thirty feet across. The pile led into a thickly wooded pine forest whose bright green ferns and dense underbrush felt very similar to that of the Pacific Northwest - only with much smaller trees. The long-established immigrant settlements dating back hundreds of years must have made liberal use of the lumber in order to survive Maine’s harsh winters, and the forests along the eastern coast had paid the toll for the rise of Western Civilization. While I pondered the history of the area, Perry spent his time immensely enjoying the dirt pile, playing up and down the hill formed by the cemetery’s leavings. He would climb to the top, then sprint to the bottom to dig furiously in the loose soil for a moment before springing away, play bowing at me and wagging his tail with tremendous glee. I joined in the fun till I nearly tumbled from the top of the pile - in this case Snowball was right, four legs good, two legs bad.

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Perry and I continued north on US-1, stopping for a break to capture some midday photos in Portland, Maine. Perry made his way down to the rocky beach to get his first taste of ocean water - literally. Lapping a sip from a nearby tide pool, he loudly snuffed and violently shook his head, then licked his chops continuously for a full minute and a half. The sight made me roll with laughter, and I could only imagine what was going through his head as he tried to figure out why the water tasted so icky. While Perry got over his first exposure to saltwater, I made a phone call to the next campground to reserve a site for the night; having learned my lesson, there was no way I would risk getting left out in the cold again. I spoke with Lori, the campground owner, who assured me that there would be a campsite waiting for us when we arrived later that evening.

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The further north we went, the more broken and pitted US-1 became - especially along the edges of the road. This meant Perry got the worst of the turbulence, but there wasn’t much I could do as I pushed the Ural to keep up with traffic on the two-lane highway. The speed limit had increased to 55 mph, but the loaded-down Ural didn’t have the horsepower to maintain that speed through the rolling hills. I made liberal use of the available passing zones to wave past the traffic building up behind us. Interestingly, I received more friendly waves from folks in cars and trucks than I did from other motorcyclists; in fact, I noticed that bikers in Maine don’t wave to each other at all. I had never seen so many Harley Davidsons on the road, ridden by a surprising number of both men and women. The inhabitants of Maine seeming a practical sort, I soon switched from a wave to a simple nod, which was (usually) returned in kind - though I did get one big wave just north of Wiscasset. Spotting a southbound sidecar rig attached to an early ‘80s Honda, the other hack driver and I both threw each other a thumbs-up as we passed.

In planning for the trip, I had expected the East Coast’s US-1 to be similar to the West Coast’s US-101, which offers stunning panoramas of the Pacific as it traverses the westernmost reaches of the United States. I couldn’t have been more wrong. For all its proximity to the Atlantic when tracing it on a map, US-1 sadly offers little in the way of scenic vistas. The vast majority of the highway was lined with pines that effectively blocked any view of the Atlantic, and I suspected this was again due to the practical nature of the people of Maine. Scenery would become a tertiary goal in favor of getting from point A to point B as quickly and easily as possible. The lack of a view was a bit of a let-down, but we still caught the occasional distant glimpse of the Atlantic when the trees receded.

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We turned on to the gravel road leading to Oceanfront Camping at Reach Knolls just past 7pm. Pulling up to the small office building and parking in the nearby gravel lot, Lori came outside to greet us. “What is that, a trike?” she asked. “No, it’s a sidecar…” then, at her look of puzzlement, “Like the one Sean Connery and Harrison Ford drove in Indiana Jones.” “Oh, coooool!” she replied enthusiastically. Lori was very friendly and accomodating, and she took an especial shine to Perry. She decided to put us, “In the best ocean view site, number 10 on the far end of the park.” Friendly campers waved as Perry and I drove to the campsite, which turned out to feature the best view of the Atlantic I had yet seen on the trip. I set up camp as the sunset cast beautiful oranges and pinks above the trees around us, and after checking the forecast I decided to not put up the rainfly for ease of packing in the morning. Tomorrow we would visit one of the landmarks from Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, a tiny fishing village called Stonington on the southern end of Deer Isle, then continue on to my much-anticipated first visit to Acadia National Park.


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Dammit, Dan!
Clarksville, TN

Current Bikes
2016 Ural Gear Up
2006 Kawaski ZG1000 Concours "The Racing Mule"

Former Bikes
1980 Yamaha XS850 triple
1976 Honda GL1000 Goldwing
1981 Yamaha XS650 twin cafe bike
1983 Honda CB650 four aka The Redheaded Stepchild

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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by cateyetech » Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:49 am

Awesome :thumbsup:

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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by bgenest » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:57 am

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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:20 pm

Day 12 - Stonington Seafood & Acadian Adventures

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I awoke the next morning warm and comfortable, but something wasn’t quite right. I shifted slightly in the hammock and felt something hard under my tailbone; peering through the bug netting, I was shocked to see the ground had unexpectedly risen overnight. Only about two inches now separated me from the ground. I unzipped the netting to half-roll, half-scramble free of my bed on hands and knees, but as soon as the weight of my upper body was lifted the hammock sprang upward like a slingshot, catching my foot and flipping me onto my back. I lay on the ground for a moment wondering what the hell had just happened, then burst out laughing as I watched the tops of the nearby trees quivering above me. While setting up camp the night before, the campsite had offered plenty of trees but none that were both mature enough and close enough together for the hammock to comfortably reach. I was left with choosing two younger trees in closer proximity, but the anchor trees I had chosen were still nearly 20 feet apart. This resulted in a hammock hang line that was nearly flat - a flat hang angle puts exponentially more lateral stress on the anchor points. As such, during the course of the night the young trees had bent inward under my weight - slowly lowering me to the ground - then had sprung back into place when the weight was lifted - flipping me out of the hammock. I couldn’t help but laugh; the trees had taken their revenge.

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I wanted to catch the morning sunrise, so Perry and I followed the trail down to the pebbly beach below. A 30-foot aluminum gangway traversed the final steep slope to the shore, but Perry wasn’t sure he trusted the metal path. Halfway down he decided the gangway was too scary, hopped off the side and was swallowed up by the thick undergrowth. I heard a rustling as he tried to muscle his way through the scrub, but soon he gave up the attempt. His head popped back up from the dense bushes and he made a desperate scramble back onto the gangway, then trotted down and past me as though nothing had happened. Perry went for a wade in the Atlantic, catching a couple tonguefuls of water while I snapped photos and waited for the sunrise. He still didn’t care for the flavor. As the sky continued to brighten it dawned on me that I had watched the sunset from the campsite last night, and the campsite overlooked the very beach I was currently standing on - unless the rules of the solar system had suddenly shifted overnight, I realized it would be impossible to watch the sunrise.

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Perry and I headed back up the hill to pack up, and while in the final stages of loading the rig I met a wonderful family as they pulled past my campsite on the way out of the campground. Leci and Jeff, their twins Ziggy and Will, and their family dog Suki all hailed from California. Both teachers, Leci and Jeff had used their summer break for a cross-country family roadtrip in Bruce the Volkswagen Vanagon. The Ural had piqued their interest as they passed, and they stopped for a few minutes to ask some questions about the rig, Perry and our trip. When I mentioned the catalyst for the trip had been Travels with Charley, Leci and Jeff perked up and revealed they were both big fans of John Steinbeck. They shared their knowledge of his other books, but I was soon lost in the conversation when they asked if I had read this one or that one. Besides Travels with Charley, the only other book I had read by Steinbeck was East of Eden; it had been assigned reading in my high school english class more than a decade earlier, and my lack of interest in the assignment had made the experience less than enjoyable and more akin to pulling teeth. I started to feel dopey. “No, I haven’t read that one… Or that one… Oh, jeeze, I’m making myself look…” I was going to say illiterate but stopped short.

Fortunately they were gracious and let me down easy; in fact, when Leci found out that I planned to head south through California on US-101, she offered an exciting proposition. Leci was the Dean at the Midland School in Los Olivos, California - a unique college-prep boarding school where students lived in cabins heated by wood stoves, chopped wood to heat water for showers, and all had “jobs” to contribute to the school and the community, from carpenters or cooks to plumbers or librarians. Leci offered to let me stay on their rustic campus and perhaps give a talk to the student body about my experience in traveling the country following Steinbeck’s trail; it sounded like a fantastic opportunity to expand my story, so we exchanged contact information and made tentative plans. I would definitely be anticipating the visit with excitement.

Perry and I were packed up and headed out at 9am. Sitting with a few other campers in front of the office, Lori - the campground owner - gave us 2-thumbs-up and a big wave as we passed. I smiled and waved in return, then headed south toward Stonington on nearby Deer Isle. The roads leading across the island were the worst yet, but the Ural took the broken pavement in stride. A gorgeous sight stopped me in my tracks just outside of Stonington; parked in front of a small service station was a beautiful burgundy Jaguar XK150 from the late 1950s.

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I had seen more exotic vehicles driving around Maine than I had seen anywhere else in my life; the state’s long, cold winters make outdoor activities difficult, so to keep cabin fever at bay I guess folks find other ways to stay busy. I pulled off the highway and parked the Ural to capture a photo of the car and met Steve doing the same thing. I asked him if it was his Jag - “Yeah right, I wish!” We chatted about the Ural and I discovered his daughter had just finished Travels with Charley as part of her summer reading. Steve took a photo of Perry and me and suggested some good lobster places to check out around Stonington.

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Sadly, I couldn’t locate any of Steve’s recommendations. The lack of cellular service on Deer Isle really made me feel like I was walking in Steinbeck’s constantly disoriented shoes. What did people do in the era before cell phones and GPS? They got lost and couldn’t find things, that’s what. Instead I managed to find the odd sense of humor exhibited by the residents of the island. Pulling the Ural off the highway, I dug out the camera bag to capture what I thought was a group of people sailing small dinghies in the rushing current from a nearby river. Upon closer inspection the dinghies weren’t exactly what I was expecting.

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Upon reaching Stonington, I could understand why the town had made such an impact on Steinbeck. Nestled against the southern shore of Deer Isle, the fishing village seemed like a place trapped in time. The village had been established in the early 19th century, and the white clapboard colonial houses constructed during that era still lined its streets. Stonington’s main revenue came from the lobster and fishing industries, and the town’s main thoroughfares inevitably led us to the fishing docks. I parked the Ural to let Perry stretch his legs, and under a shade tree at the edge of a yard overlooking the harbor, I took the opportunity to catch up on my notes.

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I found a number of local shops selling lobster, all of which were still alive and snipping. With neither the time nor the desire to boil a lobster myself, I was just about to give up my hopes of tasting my first Maine lobster when I spotted a walk-up lobster stand named The Fishnet. Just what I was looking for. I decided not to order a real lobster plate for the same reason I don’t like to eat crab on the shell - or insects, for that matter; the idea of ripping apart a carcass with my bare hands then scooping its ill-defined innards into my gullet tends to kill my appetite. So instead of a lobster tail or claws, I ordered a Maine Lobster salad plate and a fresh blueberry milkshake. The busy kitchen took a while to prepare my meal, so Perry and I waited in the shade of a small tree behind the lobster stand - he on his cot, me in my chair. When my order was finally ready it proved worth the wait. The fresh lobster meat was succulent and savory, certainly like nothing I had ever ordered at your run-of-the-mill Red Lobster. The milkshake was equally satisfying. Perry got a couple pieces of lobster and seemed to enjoy the snack; I couldn’t tell for the most part, since he practically inhaled the meat. He also managed to steal a few licks from my milkshake while I wasn’t looking.

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By late morning the overcast skies cleared to reveal a comfortable sunny afternoon. After lunch Perry and I made our way north back to US-1 to head on to Acadia National Park. Traffic seemed to appear out of nowhere as we approached the park, and in the hectic flow I made the mistake of following road signs rather than my GPS; I took a wrong turn that sent the GPS into a spasm of rerouting attempts. I eventually managed to wander my way into the park by following the glut of traffic.

The oldest National Park east of the Mississippi river, Acadia preserves nearly 50,000 acres of Maine’s Mount Desert Island for the benefit of its more than three million annual visitors. The wilderness interior of the island is encompassed by a meandering Park Loop Road which exhibits some of the Acadia’s most breathtaking vistas, and Perry and I stuck mostly to this track as we explored the park. There was heavy congestion at many of the overlooks, and haphazardly parked cars along both sides of the road further slowed traffic by encroaching on the lanes. Perry was treated like a celebrity by the foot traffic in bottlenecked areas; while we waited at a crosswalk for pedestrians to pass, one woman stopped in front of us and asked if she could take his picture. Perry gave her a wide smile beneath his oversized goggles, and she laughed as she said, “Thank you so much, you two just made my day!”

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A bit further along the loop road I parked the Ural to give Perry a break at a sandy beach. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, but a little too much; with all the sprinting and spinning and rolling, he was suddenly overcome with the urge to purge and unexpectedly squatted in the middle of the beach. I had stupidly left the dog-doo bags back on the rig, so I marked the spot in the sand with a stick and made the long march back to the Ural. After returning to pick up Perry’s leavings, I led him further up the beach to explore. He decided to wade into the Atlantic to investigate the bunches of kelp floating in the bay, offering me a perfect photo opportunity.

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After a long, slow day of travelling, Perry and I finally pulled into Sunrise Point Campground at 7pm. Yesterday’s campground was less than 50 miles away as the crow flies, but we had traveled more than 150 miles following our series of circuitous loops and backtracks to US-1. Sunrise Point was relatively full, and our reserved campsite offered only one tree from which to hang the hammock. Undaunted, I assembled the device I had designed for specifically this situation - my hammock stand constructed with telescoped sections of aluminum staff poles. I ran an AmSteel rope ridgeline from the tree to the pole, then secured the pole with two AmSteel ropes tied to spiked ground anchors. Hanging the hammock between the stand and tree, the pole sunk into the ground and the anchors heaved a bit when I tested my weight, but the hammock remained suspended when I lifted my feet from the ground.

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Following this tentatively successful hammock hanging, I cooked a pot of mac and cheese for dinner and later made my way to the campground bath house. It had been several days since my last real bath, and I was beginning to feel particularly grimy. I enjoyed a long, hot shower before returning to the campsite and crawling into to bed in a heap of exhaustion.


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Dammit, Dan!
Clarksville, TN

Current Bikes
2016 Ural Gear Up
2006 Kawaski ZG1000 Concours "The Racing Mule"

Former Bikes
1980 Yamaha XS850 triple
1976 Honda GL1000 Goldwing
1981 Yamaha XS650 twin cafe bike
1983 Honda CB650 four aka The Redheaded Stepchild

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