Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

Plans for today included an ascent into the Appalachian highlands as US-40 cuts a northwest path across the PA border, turning along a high ridge into West Virginia, and as recommended to us the day before, a small-town lunch and a ride across a cute little private toll bridge across the Potomac back into Maryland.  I'd also be trying out the GoPro Hero cam that my sexy little elf bought me for Christmas.  We strapped on our day bags, layered up against the cold, and headed for the hills in the most literal sense.

Our turn off US-40 near Fort Necessity was easy enough.  Despite the altitude, spectacular views were elusive, as the planned route itself would soon become.  These roads were not on any state map, and the few road signs I saw had nothing in common with the names I'd scribbled from Google Maps the night before.  Navigation quickly became only my keen Spidey senses.

I was pretty sure we'd crossed into WV, as planned, but not necessarily *where* we planned.  Roads were getting less substantial, and were assumed to be turning to dirt any second.  I was on the alert for banjo music.  Nonetheless, cold and remote as it was, it was early in the day, we had plenty of gas, and Spidey always finds his way out.

Downtown Bruceton Mills, WV
Out, in this case, turned out to be Bruceton Mills, WV, and we were at *the* stop sign.  A post office with a town name, and a main street with a highway number established our location just as well as your fancy GPS.  Within minutes, we were back on track, heading downstream along the Cheat River and being passed in the opposite direction by what could best be described as a rooftop kayak parade.

Uptown Bruceton Mills, WV
Crisscrossing eastward along US-50 (known as the Loneliest Highway if you follow it into the Nevada desert) we stopped at a curious park along a stream where someone seemed to prefer rusty antique tractors as a decorating motif.  Here, I tried to issue new commands to my cool new cutting-edge camera, using my cutting-edge smartphone app and the optional Wi-Fi remote, and ended up with a cutting-edge headache.  Donna had a bottle of water, read a book, and celebrated a birthday while I contemplated the juxtaposition of antique tractors in a state of advanced decomposition with cutting-edge space-age technology hurled at it.  I finally just did what I thought might have been "turn the goddamn thing off" and we hit the starters and went back to doing what we are good at.

Cool Springs Park, Rowlesburg, WV
Lunch at the Purple Fiddle (Thomas, WV) turned out to be some bohemian thing that people like me don't really consider lunch, but was enjoyed with a really good root beer against a backdrop of a neo-hippie couple playing folk music.  Variety is the spice of life. 

Squirrel Hillbillies live at the Purple Fiddle
We then found a brand-new four-lane superhighway connecting Nowhere, WV with Nowhere, VA and being used by ABSOLUTELY NOBODY.  I ran that sumbitch through the gears as fast as it would go (which turns out to be a fair amount less than 120 no matter how long you wait) and then pulled over, stood smack in the middle of the highway and took a picture (with my phone, which I understand somewhat better than this camera) of a billion dollars worth of unused concrete.

US-48, Middle of Nowhere
The coup de grace for the day was the "cute little toll bridge" coming back into MD.  The guy from yesterday had told us it used to be a little shack where the lady stuck out a cup on a pole and you put a quarter in it, but now it was upgraded to a sliding window and a cash register.  When I came upon it, I could not imagine how that could possibly end with both of us dry on the other side.  But of course, I rode across, and of course, Donna was going to follow me.  I'll let the picture of her crossing it be worth 1000 words that I can't even think of.  I am grateful that she did not take my life in my sleep that night.

Over Chinese at our familiar buffet that night, we mutually confessed that despite the sentimental appeal of our chosen repast, it actually kinda sucked and it was probably time to write that out of the script, too.  We took our lessons learned, woke up Monday morning after everybody else went to work, and in a scene that has repeated itself a whole lot since that first time, headed for home together.

You, sir, are an asshole.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Book of Genesis

OK, OK, it's been a *LONG* time since we've updated LBB - a few days short of a year, in fact, despite the misleading date stamp (I figured out how to mess with it, and backed it up to the actual date of the trip.)

We plan our long weekends while waiting out the winter, and with this being the year of Harley-Davidson's 110th Anniversary, we decided it was time for another trip to Cumberland, MD. Faithful readers of this blog will recognize this place as one of significance to us.  (Faithful readers of this blog will also be *very* patient people.)  We've returned to the site of these photos, and our overnight base a few miles down the road, once before.  And back then in 2009 , it was still a "return" of sorts for us, as this is the site of the first pictures in existence that include both of us, and the site of the first overnight stop for our band of gypsies on our way "home" to Milwaukee for the 105th Anniversary the previous summer.

When we returned back then, we were surveilled by a territorial peahen who appeared out of nowhere while we basked (froze, actually) in the moment.  In an instant, our memories flashed back to the original pictures of the group, which featured the same fowl pecking around the same bikes.  This time, we had been eagerly anticipating our reunion for weeks.  Alas, we were disappointed to find our friend gone and the Town Hill Bed and Breakfast for sale. 

We were not, however, surprised to be joined by other riders within a few minutes: another set of lovebirds on dual-purpose off-road bikes.  They obliged us by using our camera to commemorate the moment, and shared some suggestions for great riding in the area.  Best wishes for a great weekend were exchanged, and off we went on our adventures.  In short order, our gear was stashed at our familiar Super 8 in LaVale and we were watching the Kentucky Derby over some surprisingly good Cajun food in a historic downtown Cumberland hotel. 

Back at the 8, I sat down with a beer and a map, and combined our new friend's ideas with my own to devise a cold Saturday of riding.  It was during this time when we mutually confessed that despite the sentimental appeal of our modest accommodations, it was well past its prime 5 years ago and probably time to write that nasty carpet out of the script for the next episode.  We have standards, after all.  But the promise of a great day awaited us with the rising sun.