Editors Note: This is a reader submitted article and was edited for readability by Diana Olmstead.
Written By Tom Neal II, Photos by Tom II & Tom III
Docked in Muskegon, Michigan after having just crossed Lake Michigan by ferry from Milwaulkee, we were done with the flat farm lands and ready for some mountains again! We got back onto the interstate, worked our way to I-69… I love that, I wanted a sticker that has the interstate symbol and 69 in it. Never could find one, oh well. We rolled through Indiana and into Ohio where the people were a bit crazy for my taste. But the worst was yet to come!
Next up was Niagara Falls… oops, change of plans. Thanks to the weather channel we missed the storm in Illinois by a day and watched the storm chase us to Ohio. Since we were a day ahead, if we went on to Niagara Falls, it would catch up and we would’ve been riding in it. Since that stop wasn’t high on any of our lists we skipped it and rolled on. We cut across New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and into Maine. We had to stop at the Atlantic Ocean because my mom had never ridden her bike there before. I think this was the highlight of the trip for her. We also thought it was pretty funny that Tommy rode to the Atlantic Ocean before he rode to the Pacific Ocean that we live an hour and a half away from!
After Maine, we made our way down to Massachusetts for the night where we met up with the storm. We hung out there for an extra day while the rain blew through. By this point, I want out of the northeast portion of our great land. The drivers seemed like they were out for blood and anyone on a motorcycle seemed like the best candidates! All I could think was “Get me out of here before I do something stupid!” Sanity wasn’t too far away, just a few more states, but I had to chase it down.
We rolled on through New York again, staying out of the city, on to New Jersey and into Pennsylvania to Amish Country. I thought Amish people were against technology, including power, automobiles, etc. Apparently there must be different levels of Amish because the ones we saw had tractors, power, and credit card machines? I’m sure the “true” Amish were further off the beaten path. I thought we would start talking with kinder people here, but nope; the Amish did not like us. That was kind of crazy since they owned many retail stores and non-Amish people are their customers. The people may not have been the most pleasant, but the scenery sure was – awesome rolling hills, lots of green trees and decent roads. At the hotel, there was a hot air balloon being launched, we watched it from the time they pulled everything out of the trailer to the time she was in flight. That was a pretty cool thing to watch, we didn’t realize just how loud they really are, but we could hear the “flame thrower” way up in the air. I used to think people were nuts to just go watch hot air balloons but I soon I realized how calming it was. Good, because the most dreaded part of the trip was the next day, Washington D.C.!
Surprisingly, this was a good riding day! Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Maryland was great and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge coming into Annapolis was pretty cool! I thought for sure traffic was going to be hell but we blew right through to Arlington. We got into town way too early to check into our rooms, but we were able to drop kick our gear with the friendly hotel desk clerk while we went for lunch. After we ate we wandered over to the US Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima). We tried going into the Arlington National Cemetery but it was closed off due to a “suspicious package” that had been left so we crossed over to the Vietnam Wall, the Korean War Memorial and back to the Vietnam Wall. It was very touching, and even though I did not lose anyone in the war, I know people who did. I have seen what it did to our soldiers who were there. I come from a military family, both parents served during ‘Nam, dad again in Iraq, grandparents in WWII, so I have a lot of respect for our troops. I did see some stuff going on there that made me sick! Some Asian tourists were mocking and climbing all over our monuments! I was pissed and thought ‘Damn, show some respect!’ The Arlington National Cemetery had reopened by that point, so we went in, looked at some headstones, wandered around and watched the changing of the guard. That was pretty cool to watch, they don’t take crap! When you are asked to stand, you better stand. The First Sergeant let one lady have it who thought she was too good to stand. As he was speaking he looked right at her, held his hand toward her, and screamed that she was requested to stand. She was too busy on her phone and showing no respect so he stopped the whole ceremony till she stood and was off her phone. It wasn’t too long before she realized it… Loved it!
Rolling out of D.C. was a breeze, no issues at all. It was there that the trip got better for me. Don’t get me wrong, I had been enjoying myself for the most part before this, but to me the northeastern part of the U.S. was not for me, it was too busy and everyone was in a rush. So we headed for the Skyline drive, originally we planned to run the Skyline all the way down and to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but weather and roads again played a part in changing our plans. The Skyline was an absolutely beautiful ride! We cruised through spectacular scenery, wonderful winding roads and saw plenty of wildlife. We came around one corner, where I saw something moving in the brush, as I started getting closer I realized what it was… there was a big ass BEAR standing about 10 feet from the road! ‘Well crap’ I thought, ‘I know I can make it around before he decides to grab some lunch and Tommy might, but mom, nope. Mom would stop to try to pet the bear, so I stopped back a ways just so we could all look at the bear, hoping he would get spooked. This is where I wish I had my Dyna and loud pipes, to scare it off. It didn’t take long for the bear to realize we were not going to be his lunch that day so he walked back into the woods and we continued on.
We made our way down through Virginia, heading for West Virginia, where we pulled into a gas station and had problems with the pumps. Two hillbillies walked out together, one asked me if we were having problems, “Yep, the card reader ain’t working” I told him. He told me he would try it for us, so I handed him my card, he swiped it, it asked for our zip code, so I told him what it was. As he types, he says “9, 8, 5… 985, where ya’all from?” He then looked at the license plate as I said “Washington”. He said, “State? Dang Gum, you’s far from home!” How wrong he was… I felt right at home, these were cool folk, down to earth, humble, not in a huge hurry, how I missed rednecks! The rest of our gas stop story was more visual than anything, but basically he asked where we were headed, I told him, and he advised us not to take the bike down the road because of the twists and turns, cliffs and mountains. Wrong! That sounded great to me! So we continued up the road as planned into West Virginia to a view point pull off. Holy crap, those good ol’ boys were right about that road, and we were happy to have experienced it!
Back into Virginia and heading south to North Carolina, was spectacular. I could see living down that way. Beautiful roads, scenery and people; man, this was the life! We were getting close to South Carolina and the plan was to clip a few miles and move back on through to North Carolina and into Georgia for the night. We stopped for gas again before the South Carolina state line and ran into a couple more “country boys”. We BS’d with them for about 20 minutes, they were heading out to ride dirt bikes, but they also said they do Civil War re-enactments. I found out this guy works for Homeland security and his wife works for the FBI. Really!?! Man he did not look or act like it, he looked like a backwoods shine runner, and acted like it too. He was cool as hell, I could have sat and talked with this guy all day, but we had to keep rolling, we had a storm to meet up with at the hotel and not before. So we cruised on in to Dillard Georgia for the night, had an awesome dinner, truly some of the best food on the trip. The hotel, well that’s another story. The next morning was one I was really looking forward to… heading for Hwy 129 and the Tail of the Dragon!
Stay tuned for Part III in the May issue of Quick Throttle Magazine.
If you missed Part I of “A Three Generation Road Trip” you can go to www.quickthrottle.com and read it here.