Monday, June 15, 2009

Picture post!

Okay, it's been a while since I actually did a comprehensive update, so here we go again. Last I really wrote, I was in NYC, crashing with an internet friend.


My father had shipped a box of stuff for me to my friend, including the new Jack Wolfskin tent, and my cold-weather riding gear; that neon-yellow Olympia Phantom suit, as well as some thicker gloves and socks. I packed up the old tent, along with my mesh Teknic jacket, rain gear and Kevlar-lined Draggin' Jeans, and had them shipped back to him in Chicago, for him to ship BACK to me when I get to Seattle. I rolled out of NYC and headed north to Albany. Halfway there, I glanced at the odometer and realized I'd missed a minor milestone by just a couple miles.

I started this trip with ~34,000, I think.

Halfway to Albany, I swung by a Target. For a few minor supplies. Mostly, because I'd shipped my jeans back to Chicago, I only had one pair of pants with me. A quick trip to the clearance rack fixed that, and got me some long underwear type thing and a zip-up fleece turtleneck.

And, either because I grew up with a Jew as my best friend, or just because I inherited some of my dad's famous stinginess, I paid exactly $4 each for these articles of clothing. Win for the budget!

That evening, I had dinner with the girlfriend of my room-mate/best friend/hetero life-mate from Antarctica (Which he actually paid for. Thanks, d00d!), and then crashed on her couch for the night.


I awoke to find that it had rained slightly overnight, but was now mostly clear. The roads weren't super-twisty, but the scenery was very nice, everything was lush and green, if a bit cool.

I headed east on Rt two, and as the elevation started to climb, the temperature started to drop. Just as I headed into Massachusetts, I pulled over to put on my suit liner, and recorded myself talking at the camera some more.

As you can see, it was getting very foggy, and was starting to rain off and on. My supposedly "Waterproof" gloves were decidedly not, so I stopped by a hardware store to pick up these.

As if I didn't look like enough of a dork, I now have bright green hands to match my neon yellow suit. They fit over my Ironclad work gloves okay, if a little tightly. They're not as flexible as proper riding gloves, so much clutch control isn't very good with them on, but it's better then having soaking wet hands that go numb after half an hour.

I pushed on into MA, eventually taking Rt 8 north into Vermont. Very scenic and pretty driving, passing through lots of small towns and rural farms. This is a very pretty part of the country, I have to say. I can see why people like living here, despite the winters.

I pushed up through Putney (Where my Antarctica-friend is actually from), and at some point decided to treat myself to a dinner that wasn't cereal bars and oatmeal. I stopped in at this place, which just . . . I dunno, it just had a really good feel as soon as I walked in.

Just an overall warm and comfortable feeling. But the food, oh, holy crap the food. I srsly was not expecting food this good from what I thought was just a roadside pub.

The portion size wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I guess my perspective is warped, being an American. But ohmigawd it was so good. I got Beef Tips and grilled Chicken, and they were just . . . I can't remember the last time I had beef that was this perfectly cooked and flavorful. It was unbelievably tender, just melted in my mouth, but yet it wasn't overly spiced or anything. It tasted mostly just of pure beef, with just a hint of seasonings. But it was just . . . it tasted SO strongly of just what it was. It was simply really good meat, without the need for any flavorings to try and make it any better. And the chicken was similar, a grilled rub that I barely needed a knife to cut, and was very moist and juicy, without being greasy at all. It was just freakin' great.

I finished it off with a berry pie. With tip, the total came to almost $28, which was more then I was planning to spend, and almost three days worth of my food budget. But goddamn, people. If you're ever in that area, you totally need to hit this place up for food. I think the most surprising thing about the whole meal was just how unexpected it was. It's just a little place on the side of the road, with a simple and unpretentious decor. But good god, that was some of the best chicken I'd ever had.

Anyway, after this, I headed over the border into New Hampshire and started trying to find a spot to camp for the night. I wasn't having much luck, as there were a lot of farms around, and most everything looked to be privately owned. Even the little dirt tracks I took showed signs of frequent and recent use. Eventually, I saw a big garage type building that looked abandoned, but had big "NO TRESPASSING, STATE PROPERTY" signs all over it. I headed around back, checked the electric meter (it was stationary), and decided that being awoken in the middle of the night by a police officer was probably preferable to being awoken by some farmer with a shotgun. So I figured what the hell, and pitched the tent. It was really windy, and the ground was mostly gravel and rock, preventing the tent pegs from getting a good hold. I moved the bike to the windward side of the tent, and tied the tent to it as well.

The next day, I poked my GPS and told it to get me to Mt Washington, which was about 80 miles away. The roads on the way alternated between being boring, and being WEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Even when they were kinda straight, the surrounding countryside was pretty. I wonder how long it's going to take me before I stop enjoying big hills covered with green.

A couple of hours riding got me into Northwest New Hampshire, and I arrived at . . .

Hooray! I actually hadn't been up here since I was . . . 10? I think? Whatever, it's a touristy thing to do.


Mt Washington isn't particularly tall by any standards; it's summit is only 6,288 feet, and the terrain is flat enough that (obviously) there is a road up to the summit. What Mt Washington DOES hold a claim to, is that it's the home of the worst weather in the world.

A number of factors, including it's location relative to the jetstream and the topography of the surrounding terrain combine to make the summit one of the windiest places on the planet; it holds the record for the highest ground windspeed ever recorded (at 231mph, in 1936), and over 70% of the days year-round will see wind gusts in excess of 75mph. Temperatures can get to -50f, and snowfalls are measured in tens of feet. It's summit is encased in clouds and fog almost year-round, although on rare clear days, you can see into five states, including Canada and the Atlantic Ocean, from the summit.

I pulled up to the toll booth (it's a privately run not-for-profit organization) to pay the $15 entrance fee, but the guard told me that the road was temporarily closed to motorcycles for the next hour or so. They'd had a lot of rain the night before, and the gravel section of the road was still a bit mushy, they were waiting for more cars to go on it to pack it down some before they let bikes on. I thanked him, and headed across the street to the little tourist hotel/resort type place, and treated myself to some breakfast.

And I made a friend! At least, that's what I told myself. Because I think he was more interested in the sugar-water then me.


And another friend! I dunno what the hell this guy was, but he had lots of eyeballs and big furry arms.

Aw, crap. It's almost time for me to check out of this hotel, so I need to get going. I guess I'll finish this update tonight or something, whenever I get a chance.

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