Adventures with Perry

Where have you been riding? Tell us all about your trip. Prove it with pictures! If ya didn't take pictures, it didn't happen...
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bgenest
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by bgenest » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:36 pm

:thumbsup:
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Lokiboy
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by Lokiboy » Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:04 pm

Your write ups are very detailed and enjoyable to read.
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wooden nickel
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by wooden nickel » Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:00 pm

I have enjoyed your trip report too. I don't know how you do it.
When I'm riding, I enjoy it so much, I hate to stop and take pictures, let alone write notes. I could never match your eloquence anyway.
Thank you for taking us along.
I may not be good, but I'm slow.
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by Manscout » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:02 am

Stop it Dan! Your reports are making my cabin fever worse! :D
"It goes nowhere fast, and everywhere cool".

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DammitDan
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Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:09 am

Thank you everyone for the kind words. I’ve learned that good writing takes plenty of practice, and while I have shaken off some rust from my college days, I still have a long way to go... I think the difference in style between the first few days of the blog and the more recent entries are evidence of that. I plan on doing a significant re-write before adding the earlier posts - the ones I actually wrote while on the trip - to the website I recently put together.

Unfortunately a very fluish sickness has knocked me on my a$$ for the past few days so I don’t have a blog to post today... I have finally learned why it’s important to stay several weeks ahead of schedule (as opposed to flying by the seat of my pants as per usual)


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Dammit, Dan!
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2016 Ural Gear Up
2006 Kawaski ZG1000 Concours "The Racing Mule"

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1980 Yamaha XS850 triple
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1981 Yamaha XS650 twin cafe bike
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Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Mon Mar 26, 2018 2:34 pm

Day 13 - Up the Maine Line

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The hammock stand had performed flawlessly. Upon inspection I found the pole had sunk a few inches into the ground, but the anchors had remained firmly planted and kept me aloft. This wasn’t the first hammock stand I had designed; with the expectation that I would be camping in places where trees might be scarce, in 2014 I had engineered a stand for my first cross-country motorcycle trip. The old design had been clumsy, heavy, and difficult to set up - made of 1-inch steel plumbing that screwed together, and anchored with braided steel cables attached to steel rebar hammered into the ground. I had carried two full stands, one in each saddlebag on my Kawasaki Concours, and each stand had weighed nearly 25 pounds. In more than two months and 12,000 miles, I had used the stand four times - and one of those times, in Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, I had ended up sleeping on ground because the anchors kept pulling out of the sandy soil. That being said, the three successful hangs with the stand had resulted in unforgettable experiences - it had allowed me to camp for nearly a week on the scrubland coast of California’s Big Sur, for another week amid the blackened husks of pines in a burned area outside Glacier National Park in Montana, and it had served as the other “tree” for my hammock while stealth camping overnight on redwood logging land in Northern California.

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In an effort to save weight, the new hammock stand used telescoping aluminum poles rather than sections of steel plumbing, and Amsteel rope instead of braided steel cables; this cut the stand’s weight from nearly fifty pounds to less than four. I also decided against carrying a second pole. Previous experience had taught me that it wasn’t difficult to find at least one standing anchor from which to hang - be it from a lonely tree, a telephone pole, or even a sign post. I had tested the stand at home, but this was the first time I used the stand “in action” - its success imbued me with a real sense of accomplishment. With a spring in my step and a smile on my face, I packed up camp and by mid-morning Perry and I were back on US-1, headed up the coast toward the Canadian border.

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Acadia had been a buzzing hive of tourists and traffic - all of that disappeared as we traveled further east. Traffic slowed to a trickle, and Perry and I soon found ourselves on a lonely 2-lane highway where multiple minutes would pass between the appearance of oncoming vehicles. The morning sun warmed the area as it rose ahead of us, and fifty miles on from last night’s camp I pulled off the highway at a boat launch to shed my fleece jacket. We were on the final easternmost stretch of US-1 that traced the Atlantic, and Perry took the opportunity to explore the rocky kelp-strewn beach. He eventually settled into a nest of kelp to keep watch while I worked on my notes.

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After picking our way through stuffy and crowded New England, Maine felt almost like a foreign country. The people who called the Pine Tree State their home seemed fiercely independent, but in a different way than the inhabitants of states to their south. Mainers were more rugged, more practical, more individualistic; the further north Perry and I went, the further apart homesteads and communities were spread. Driveways featured prominent “PRIVATE PROPERTY” and “NO TRESPASSING” signs posted on locked gates, and the area was clearly more conservative than places I had previously visited - enormous Trump campaign signs still plastered the sides of buildings nearly a year after his election. There were also signs of economic distress - abandoned buildings in various states of collapse dotted the side of the highway, and at a rest stop I discovered a green trash barrel with a conspicuous yellow notice pasted on the side: “For your good health, barrel picking is prohibited.” It was evidence of a very real struggle with hunger - a hidden problem that endures everywhere in America - but I had never seen such prominent acknowledgement of its existence.

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Maine was also home to a number of unique oddities. We passed several “adult jungle gyms” - obstacle courses standing 40 or more feet above the ground, constructed of barn poles interlaced with cargo nets and zip lines. They looked fun but extremely dangerous, and I wondered how these businesses handled their legal liability in case of injuries. You would be hard-pressed to find such a thing in Tennessee, but Perry and I passed four or five along US-1 on that day alone. We also passed more than one carpentry shop that specialized in the construction of spiral staircases, and even spotted the severed head of a massive tiki man lying on its side in the ditch. The body sat decapitated in a front yard a hundred yards up the highway. One never knows what strange things they’ll find while travelling across the country.

Even with the general lack of other vehicles on the road, I still found the Ural holding up traffic behind us. The speed limit was set at 55 mph, but the loaded rig had trouble maintaining that speed on the rolling hills. The road surface continued to degrade the further north we went - especially on uphill stretches, where the broken pavement undulated beneath us - and the highway’s exceptionally high crown led to a severe camber that sloped straight into the ditch. I was constantly fighting to keep the Ural from slipping down the angled cross-slope, and in some cases I had to stand on the footpegs to absorb the shock from potholes and fissures that couldn’t be dodged. I waved for folks stuck behind us to pass as often as possible, but some vehicles seemed to want to stay behind us; I’m sure we were putting on quite a show.

We stopped in Danforth, Maine to refuel, and Perry rested in the shade while I filled up at the only pump that offered regular gas - the two other pumps only provided diesel or “offroad” diesel. After filling the tank and moving the Ural into the shade of the convenience store, I was gifted with an amusing sight; I heard a loud buzzing engine approaching, and a moment later I spotted the source of the noise: an old man in worn denim overalls pulled off the highway and up to the gas pump on an old, bright red riding lawnmower. As the man lifted the hood and unscrewed the fuel cap, an employee came outside with a full trash bag in hand. He called over to the man with the lawnmower in an amalgam of clipped New Englander and Canadian twang, “Ah, I see ya got the big wheels out today there, Fred…” to which the old man in faded overalls responded, without looking up, “A-yep.” I was struck once again at how gas stations in small communities seem to serve as common meeting places for locals - and the fact that this employee seemed totally nonplussed at the arrival of a neighbor on his lawnmower to refuel at the town’s only gas station.

Heading a few miles up the road, Perry and I stopped for a photo opportunity at a highway pull-off just north of town. The wilderness expanse of inland Maine was simultaneously impressive and intimidating, and something at my core appreciated the untamed nature of this land. Following the near-constant evidence of human habitation I saw throughout New England, Maine’s wild nature felt like a breath of fresh air.

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We pulled into Wilderness Pines campground just after 5pm. The campground was long and narrow, with a wide open field leading to the campground office on the right and a thickly planted pine forest containing interspersed campsites on the left. Nick, the young man who checked me into the campground, was apparently very new to the job and couldn’t get the register to open; I would have to wait to pay in the morning, “When someone who knows what they’re doing gets here.” When I asked which site I would be assigned for the night, Nick said there was only one other tent camper and to choose whichever site I liked the best. Perry and I returned to the pines to pick out a good place to spend the night, set up camp and enjoyed a light supper as the fading sunlight filtered through the tall trees. After nightfall I made my way to the camp’s free shower facility and enjoyed my second shower for two days in a row - certainly a rare treat. I went to sleep that night feeling wonderfully clean, and as a result I slept like a baby to the chorus of crickets and other nighttime insects.


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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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Mikey
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by Mikey » Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:32 pm

More, want more! ;)
Posted via tablet or phone so please ignore any odd words (autocorrect).
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DammitDan
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Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:51 pm

Day 14 - Aroostook County

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Inland Maine represented an undiscovered country for me; the only things I knew about the state was that Stephen King had grown up there, and that John Steinbeck had w@*ed poetic on the wild nature of the area in Travels with Charley. Steinbeck had also written of his enthusiasm for exploring the “rooftop of Maine”, the extreme northern reaches of New England, and of particular interest were the potato fields of Maine’s vast Aroostook County. Covering nearly 7,000 square miles, “The County” - as the locals referred to it - makes up nearly one fifth of the state, and is the largest county by land area east of the Rocky Mountains. Up till that point I hadn’t been clear on the name; pronunciation attempts of “Aroostook” had evolved as we trekked north, with coaching from several people I had met along the way. The name, as a cashier in Danforth definitively established for me, was pronounced ‘uh-ROO-stick’. It is derived from the native Mi’kmaq word for “clear, beautiful water”, and the name was apt; the crystal lakes and rivers we had passed on the drive north had lived up to expectations.

Travels with Charley had featured Steinbeck’s experience with the French Canadian migrants harvesting in the plethora of potato farms in the area, but Perry and I had arrived a few months too early for the harvest season. The potato is Maine’s primary agricultural product, and Aroostook County supplies approximately 90 percent of the state’s exports; even though we wouldn’t experience the harvest, I was still looking forward to seeing Maine’s vast potato fields. Feeling refreshed from my morning shower and ready to tackle the northernmost reaches of Maine, I was excited to explore Aroostook County.

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As US-1 continued its march north, the local struggle with poverty became more evident. Houses with flaking white paint on clapboard siding, sagging wooden porches, long-abandoned businesses with white crust encroaching the windows, and shabby mobile homes resting on bare concrete block pillars became a commonplace sight. There were also more things in peoples’ front yards bearing “For Sale” signs than I had ever seen: old vehicles, new vehicles, cars, trucks, four-wheelers, motorcycles, OHVs, snowmobiles, pop-up campers, gators, busses, RVs, snowplows - the list went on and on. There was also a clearly conservative slant on politics and science. Prominent “Trump for President” campaign signs continued appearing along our path, and passing through Bridgewater along the main thoroughfare, a message posted on Baptist church sign stopped me in my tracks: “IF MAN EVOLVED FROM MONKEYS, WHY ARE THERE STILL MONKEYS?” I pulled the Ural over to snap a photo, then knocked on the church’s door to offer an explanation to answer their question. Sadly, no one answered the door.

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Traveling further north, Perry and I passed through the promised miles of potato fields that seemed to stretch to the horizon. The long, straight rows of lush green and gold leaves gave promise of a healthy upcoming harvest season. Being so close to the border of Quebec and New Brunswick, I began to notice some cultural oddities that I doubted to find anywhere else in the United States. Gas station signs began to list fuel prices in both gallons and liters, and when I stopped to refuel at Van Buren on the St. John River I started to hear conversations conducted in both English and French. I also found a treasure from my childhood.

When I was nine years old my mother, father, sisters and I took a self-sustained bicycle trip through Canada. This had been my first time traveling outside the United States, and I went in with the concept that Canadians and Americans are “basically the same”. This concept was, as any Canadian would proudly attest, completely wrong. An over-broad generalization of the deluge of cultural not-so-subtleties, it had only been held due to a lack of experience and a glut of expectations; once in contact with the culture I was introduced to the novel concept of “similar but completely different”.

I met people who were similar to me in some ways, but completely different in others. Products on store shelves worked the same way - food that appeals to Canadians is similar to that of Americans, but is also completely different at the same time. I was a picky eater then, and the idea of exploring unfamiliar foods was not appealing. I was definitely not expecting Mr. Big. A mix of peanuts, marshmallow and caramel all dipped in milk chocolate, the sweet Canadian ambrosia taught me that this unexpectedly exotic culture produced something that was better than anything I could find back home. It taught me to appreciate trying new things, because I might just someday find another Mr. Big. I had been nine years old the last time I had seen one - today, more than two decades later, I rediscovered Mr. Big. I purchased five of the bright yellow and red candy bars and stowed four of them - the remaining one I opened immediately, and that first savory bite, chewing with eyes closed, unleashed a flood of warm childhood memories.

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Perry and I continued our way around the tip of Maine till we reached Fort Kent - the northern terminus of US-1 - then turned south onto ME-11 for the final 50-mile leg of the day’s journey. The highway was a thoroughfare for industrial vehicles carrying lumber and agricultural products to Bangor, and the road surface showed proof of the beating it took on a daily basis. While not as bad as US-1 heading north, the pavement of ME-11 was still pockmarked enough that I had to remain constantly alert, ready to dodge any dangerous clefts. The 2-lane highway wound its way south through lush mixed conifer and deciduous forests, keeping the temperature cool and pleasant. Fifteen miles north of that night’s camping stop at the Ashland Boat Launch, construction crews had stripped away the pavement for resurfacing, resulting in a dusty last stretch. While I stood on the pegs and used my legs to absorb the rough road, Perry entertained the workers we passed by happily eating dust as we drove along, his head held high, tongue flapping in the wind. His goggles were absolutely filthy following our escape from the construction zone, proving their value as a necessary doggy accessory from that point on.

Perry and I pulled into Ashland in mid-afternoon. The boat launch campsite was one I had found on the Internet, and while I didn’t find any posted signs forbidding overnight camping, it didn’t seem like it might be a welcomed activity, either. The boat launch was just off the highway on the other side of the Aroostook River, behind a local VFW building and a well-tended lawn. There were two large trees near a couple of vault toilets behind the building, but the trees were slightly too far apart to comfortably string a hammock between them. For the second night in a row, I unpacked the hammock stand and went about setting it up.

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While in the process of making camp, an SUV towing a teardrop camper pulled into the gravel lot and parked nearby. The driver got out with a large notebook in hand; a middle-aged man wearing shorts and a t-shirt, he introduced himself as Ron. The most unlikely of conversations followed. After asking a few questions about the Ural and receiving an approving sniff from Perry, Ron asked what had inspired our trip. I started my spiel about Steinbeck and Travels with Charley, and Ron stopped me in my tracks, “You’ve GOT to be kidding me…” Ron was also following Stenbeck’s route, traveling with his dog Mabel - a Jindo mix rescue - in the opposite direction from which Perry and I had come. Just like me, he even planned to write a book about the experience. My jaw dropped. Apparently Ron had found the Ashland boat launch campsite on the same website that I had, but my mind still boggled at the chances of the two of us meeting in the middle of Maine’s wilderness.

Mabel was full of energy and desperately wanted to play, but Perry was apparently feeling diffident and remained stoically apathetic to her spirited frolicing. Eventually she gave up and moved off to expend energy on her own while Ron invited me to check out the interior of his tiny camper. I was thoroughly impressed. Behind the door was an air-conditioned bedroom, and opening a hatch on the rear revealed a full kitchenette, complete with sink, gas range and microwave oven. The sheer luxury of the camper made me jealous, but Ron said he admired my setup more - apparently my concept of following Steinbeck’s route with a dog in a motorcycle sidecar impressed him as a fantastic idea for a story.

I asked Ron if he would like to set up camp beside me, but sadly he declined my invitation - he said it was a little too early in the day to stop, and had just been checking out the site to see what kinds of amenities were available there. He snapped a photo of the Ural, Perry and me in front of our campsite - I managed to find it on his website http://www.travelswithmabel.com - and with Mabel loaded back up in Ron’s truck, we wished each other luck in our travels and Ron hopped back on ME-11 headed north.

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With the threatening rumble of an impending thunderstorm on the horizon, I wrapped up my efforts to set up camp and settled in for the evening. The bugs materialized in force as the air turned muggy and the sun settled in the western sky. Apparently Maine’s gigantic mosquitos are near-impervious to bug spray, and not long after sunset Perry and I were both forced to retreat into our bug-netted bastions. The rain that began soon after forced the mosquitoes back to their lairs, allowing us to emerge for a quick bite under the patter of rain on the rainfly. The sound of the rainstorm was soothing - one of my favorite sonic experiences in nature - and soon I found myself relaxed and beginning to drowse in my camp chair. I enjoyed a second Mr. Big as a nightcap before falling into bed. Tomorrow would be our first rest day in more than 1,800 miles - and after nearly two weeks of waking up at the crack of dawn, I was looking forward to the opportunity to sleep in.


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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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bgenest
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by bgenest » Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:00 pm

??? I need a fix! :gahhh: :gahhh:
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DammitDan
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Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:51 am

Day 15 - Rest Day in Ashland, Maine

Sleeping in was glorious. The storm had continued intermittently throughout the night and morning, so the air was muggy when I finally rose from the hammock just past 10am. For the first time in more than ten days I didn’t have to worry about the onerous task of breaking camp and moving on to the next destination - my only destination for that evening would be the same as the evening before. My day off didn’t leave me free to loaf, however; there were a number of chores to accomplish before moving on tomorrow.

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First I took care of the bedding. The rain clouds had made way to a bright late-morning sunshine, so I took the opportunity to lay out my blanket, underquilt and pillow to soak up some bacteria-eradicating ultraviolet rays. I took Perry’s bed down to the boat launch to w@$# in the Aroostook River - it hadn’t been cleaned since the beginning of the trip and was starting to smell a bit like worms.

After hanging Perry’s bed to dry in the warm breeze, I sat beneath the shade of the rainfly to work on my blog. The writing was slow-going and I was frustrated by the poor cellular data reception; I used Google Docs to automatically save all of my work to the cloud, but the intermittent dropouts were impeding my progress. I discovered that walking to the road at the top of the hill provided an LTE data connection, so I worked out a system in which I would write for 45 minutes, then walk 100 yards to the top of the hill to save my work, then 100 yards back to the campsite to continue writing. It gave Perry an excuse to go for a walk, and the effort was worth the reward. Following an entire night in graduate school spent feverishly re-creating a research paper that had been lost to a corrupted hard drive, I had learned the hard way to never risk saving anything locally when it could be saved to an external drive, if not the cloud.

Finishing up the work on the blog post, I soon made my way to the riverside to refill our water jugs with my hand-pump filter. Perry jumped and play-bowed in the shallows of the concrete boat ramp, and I obliged to splash some water at him - he responded by hopping forward and landing with front paws together. The water turned out to be warm and comfortable, but it hadn’t been my intention to go to the riverside to take a bath. Shooing Perry away, I continued filtering water, albeit disappointed at its unpalatable warmth. I had hoped to use my harvest as drinking water for the evening, but warm filtered water never tastes quite right. A menacing rumble announced the arrival of a fresh rainstorm as I toted the water back to the campsite, and I barely got our sleeping gear pulled under the tarp before the rain began downpouring. Perry cowered in his kennel to escape the thunder while I laid in the hammock, reaching through the top of his kennel to stroke his ears soothingly. The storm blew over quickly, and in the late afternoon I made my way back to the freshly showered Ural for the field maintenance I had planned to complete.

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In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig extols the virtues of realizing your motorcycle as a mechanical companion in arms. Through its regular maintenance comes a better understanding of the machine’s operation and mechanical quirks, and in discovering its “personality” a rider can more fully appreciate the overall experience a motorcycle can grant. This mechanical knowledge leads to a greater sense of confidence and self-sufficiency, with a natural correlation forming between the safety of a machine and the mechanical competence of its rider. Any motor vehicle’s operation comes standard with a certain threat to life and limb, and motorcycles fall significantly higher on the vehicle spectrum of “dangerous” - somewhere between sports car and single engine propeller plane. An inherent result of the motorcycle’s design, the margin for operator error is exponentially slimmer, and the safety of the rider is more reliant upon the machine itself.

Riders who practice the Art tend to be better at noticing odd noises or mysterious drops of oil earlier than those who rely on mechanics, and are able to identify potential problems long before they could lead to catastrophic failure at highway speeds. Pirsig’s mechanically inept friend riding the “bulletproof” BMW R60 relies on professional mechanics for scheduled service, and as such couldn’t begin to grasp why his engine wouldn’t start after furiously pumping the kickstarter 25 times on a hot day with full choke applied. The concept of pulling the spark plugs to dry out the cylinders horrifies him - the bike may have come with a tool roll, but he never held any intention of actually using it. The reliability of the BMW brand made the modern motorcycling experience of the 1970s accessible to even otherwise-luddites like Pirsig’s friend, but in not getting his hands dirty, something had been lost in the translation.

The motorcycles I owned in the past had all been manufactured before I was born; I spent months rebuilding my first bike - a 1983 Honda CB650 - after running it into a ditch on its second outing. I learned the mechanical concepts behind the engine and became familiar with its components, and with that knowledge came an appreciation for the quirky personality of my machine. A particular flat spot in the throttle suggested it might be due for a carburetor re-balance, a certain slapping rattle called for an adjustment to the camshaft chain… I could understand its language, and with each successive motorcycle I discovered a new personality buried in the machine. I eventually “upgraded” to a late model Kawasaki sport-touring bike that promised bulletproof reliability. Following tens of thousands of practically trouble-free miles traversing the United States, my Concours delivered beyond all expectations. I appreciated the freedom that modern engineering and manufacturing quality could offer, but also recognized the fact that I didn’t feel the same way about my Kawasaki as I had about my “old” bikes. I ultimately felt more affinity for the Kawasaki’s saddlebags than I did for the machine itself, because they were the only part of the bike that seemed to exhibit any personality - and only then because I had seeded it there.

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West of the Continental Divide
—-———————————
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East of the Continental Divide

Having transitioned from tinker-prone to bulletproof, then back again to tinker-prone with the Ural, I harbored a certain appreciation for the tedious maintenance that others might hold in contempt. My Concours had sat neglected in a corner of the garage since the day I brought the Ural home, and the combination of continually uncovering new personality traits of my sidecar rig and having an absolute blast every time I drive it are likely to keep the Kawasaki parked for the foreseeable future. Today’s list of Ural maintenance was short; adjust the valves, check fluid levels, reset the parking brake, remove slack from the clutch cable, grease the final drive and sidecar axle U-joints… with my trusty tool roll in hand, I laid down a tarp, heaved the Ural into place and got to getting my hands dirty.

There’s something greatly satisfying about turning a clicking and ticking motorcycle engine into what sounds like a well-oiled sewing machine. With its valves adjusted the Ural could breathe again, and it showed its appreciation through an instantaneous improvement in throttle response. I packed up the tools as the evening sun’s glow sank to the horizon, and proceeded to enjoy a dinner with Perry and packed for tomorrow’s trip before the monster mosquitoes emerged at twilight. We got to bed just after dusk, and I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
Last edited by DammitDan on Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:09 pm, edited 4 times 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

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bgenest
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by bgenest » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:37 am

:thumbsup:
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Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by sagerat » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:07 pm

Great stuff, as usual. Baxter envies Perry’s river bath.
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2012 Ural Gobi (Forward to the horizon)

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Adventures with Perry

Post by DammitDan » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:46 pm

Day 16 - Bangor or Bust

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I awoke in a free fall.

A number of things went through my head in that instant of semi-consciousness: It was dark. I was sleeping in my hammock. My stomach was upside-down. Half of my hammock was suspended by the hammock stand, and the weakest link in that stand were its two ground anchors; these were inclined to fail in loose - or wet - soil. But, good news: usually only one anchor would fail, resulting in a landing that was more “OOF” than “OW”.

I managed to brace my body the moment before the THUMP of impact jarred me to full consciousness. I found myself in a puddle of hammock material, bedding, and bug netting, covered over with a soggy rainfly, my feet still slightly suspended in the air. I felt around in the darkness for my headlamp - it stayed clipped to the internal ridgeline of the Hennessy to keep it close at hand. Unzipping the bug netting, I scooted into my nearby flip-flops and, stumbling from underneath the rainfly into the dark, turned to survey the situation. The air was warm and muggy; it couldn’t be late yet. Grabbing my mini sledgehammer, I followed the line out to the pulled ground anchor and, heaving the stand back up and into place, I hammered the fourteen-inch steel spikes into the ground.

I made my way back to the hammock to check the time on my phone: 9:30pm - I had only been asleep for a few minutes before the anchor gave way. I checked Perry to make sure he was okay, then crossed my fingers as I slowly sat in the hammock. With no movement from the anchors and my full weight applied, I lifted my feet, hung there for a moment, then felt something shift. A second later I was back on the ground; this time the other anchor had let go. I repeated the setup process - trace, heave, hammer, hope for the best. Sadly, the results were worse than before; the hammock started giving way as soon as I sat down. The ground had been saturated by the previous day’s rainstorms, and the anchors simply refused to hold. By this point I had been fumbling in the dark wearing only a pair of gym shorts and flip flops for nearly ten minutes; the mosquitoes had finally started to take notice of the easy meal. My only remaining option was to toss the hammock stand and span the distance to the nearest reliable anchor - a tree about 25 feet away.

I worked the entire assembly higher to the other side of the trunk and wrestled the hammock to the other tree, extended the whoopie slings and stretched the atlas straps to their limits. I could scarcely string the hammock between the two trees - albeit at a severely flat angle. This would make my bed feel odd and put excess strain on the hammock, but I trusted the amsteel lines and carabiners, and I was willing to make the sacrifice of an uncomfortable bed if it meant not waking up in another freefall. Besides, the hotel room in Bangor had a nice, soft bed waiting for me tomorrow night. With Perry’s kennel and my camp gear moved under the new rainfly footprint, I managed to get back into my now-oddly uncomfortable bed just before 10pm.

I heard the crunch of gravel under tires as my head hit the pillow, and a flash of headlights turned off the road and illuminated the picnic tables up the hill. The vehicle creeped down the gravel road past my campsite and down to the boat ramp, then back up the drive. It eventually made its way around the VFW building to park on the grassy lawn behind us; I heard two voices quietly conversing as they started setting up a tent. Satisfied that the new visitors weren’t roustabouts looking for my lunch money or local police shooing us away, I eventually drifted to sleep.

Stephanie and Clayton came over to meet us in the morning; they were university students from Albany, headed home before school started in the Fall following a summer spent touring Maine together. They seemed a happy young couple, outdoorsy and optimistic. Clayton had discovered the place on freecampsites.net just as I had, and they had spent most of their trip camping at free sites, too. Perry certainly approved of them.

The morning remained cool and overcast as we broke camp, loading up for the day’s ride in a gray blanket of dripping fog. John Steinbeck had taken a slightly different path on the way out of Maine - skirting what are now the northwestern outskirts of Bangor - but it had been three days since my last shower, and the luxurious bed at the hotel room in town was calling to me. Stopping for gas on the Aroostook Scenic River Highway, the rig drew the attention of a group of young people from the nearby refueling vehicles. Perry was undeniably a ladies’ hound - he had always exhibited a clear preference for women; after adopting Perry from my sister, it had taken him nearly three months to finally trust that I wasn’t going to hit him when I corrected his behavior. He certainly didn’t seem upset when a gaggle of teenage girls descended upon him; he sat wiggling his rump in the sidecar, smiling in his oversized doggles as the girls showered him with attention. After a few glamor shots of Perry, I learned the group was on a missionary trip through Maine, and a chaperone revealed that they were all Tennesseans, too. It’s a small world - made even smaller with social media; one of the group shared her photo with me on Facebook.

Image

By mid-afternoon the weather cleared to blue skies and comfortable temperatures, and US-2 turned out to be a gorgeous drive. Deep wilderness forests closed in along the smooth rolling highway, and the only traffic frustration was a freight train. Arriving first in line at the highway crossing, Perry and I waited several minutes as the train crawled to a stop in front of us, then several more minutes as it lethargically backed just shy of the crossing. When the locomotives started inching forward again, I decided to give up my place in line. I pulled the Ural around in a tight circle, hanging a right across the shallow ditch to park in the shade of a nearby electrical switching station. I freed Perry to sniff around while I watched the torpid machinations of the freight train; forward past the road for 200 yards, stop for a minute, back 100 yards, stop, forward again, stop - the engineers must have had issues in backing the train onto an empty spur. It was ten more minutes before the railroad crossing arms finally lifted, the locomotives backing clear of the crossing with an apologetic wave from an engineer in the front window. Just a few more minutes of waiting as the traffic cleared, then Perry and I were back on the road for the final 60 miles into Bangor.

Perry and I checked into the hotel in the late afternoon - first stop: shower time. Now feeling more publicly presentable, I left Perry napping in the room while I resupplied at a nearby WalMart. I returned to order a pizza, took another shower while I waited for the delivery, and spent the rest of the evening working on a project that promised to exponentially increase Perry’s popularity, and presence; we would find out tomorrow.
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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

User avatar
bgenest
Hero of the Soviet Union - 2020
Hero of the Soviet Union - 2020
Posts: 149
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:10 pm
Location: Just Outside Boston, MA

Re: Adventures with Perry

Post by bgenest » Wed May 30, 2018 9:16 am

Where's Perry at?
2015 Burgundy Patrol "Stickee Monkee"

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