Monday, October 11, 2010


Up in the Howard Johnson's morning and out, bidding a last adieu to what will probably be my final motel-stay on this expedition. Looking at my tattered atlas map I reckoned I could afford to head west into the Appalachians... at least for a little while, before swinging north and east towards my buddy's place in Delaware.
A bright, crisp morning, slightly cooler every day now with the changes in season and latitude... and I have been VERY fortunate with the weather across the nation, only catching rain in two or three places.. and nothing over-whelming. That's quite amazing for 12,000 miles and two months out.

So I pointed 'er out along state highway 311 towards Paint Bank... and very quickly I was in rural conditions. But surprisingly, nothing in the way of Rural Poverty that I'd seen farther south. With the exception of a few rusty mobile homes and an occasional decrepit barn, most of the housing and farms appeared quite tidy and well-kept. Not to say affluent; I was seeing a lot of Jimmy Joe Bob characters in high-waist trousers and pre-formed hunting caps perched on their domes.
Up into the mountains and the road became more and more windey... really great for motorcycle cornering except for the decaying condition of my tires and little sprays of gravel at the apexes that twice had me recovering automatically from sudden loss of traction while heeled-over. I had to slow down a bit.

Into the tiny mountain town of Paint Bank and I stopped at a general store for coffee and to see what is what. Cool little place with hunters and locals coming in to chatter in a very deep Virginia accent. While pouring my coffee I was confronted by a staggeringly beautiful woman aboiut 30 years old... tall, thin, blue eyes, and straight hair so blonde it was near to white. She was chatting to one of the store clerks and although I tried hard to get my coffee fixed up and over to the register where she was, she left before I could sidle up to her. Perhaps the most beautiful woman I've seen on this trip..(although some of the San Fran girls in Golden Gate Park were breath-taking).
Back on the road... lots of ground to cover today.
Up and over ... made a right and headed north on beautiful Rt 18 to the little town of Covington, near the George Washington National Forest, one of the best places I have ever ridden a motorcycle. Near perfect roads, clean, small, well-designed, and running through the gorgeous autumn Appalachians. Makes "The Dragon" at Deal's Gap look pastry by comparison.
Running through small towns... VERY AMERICAN feeling to me for some reason.. this is George Washington Country... not that eastern Virginia stuff, but the area in the 1750's where Washingon lead bands of militia out along the forts to fend off Shawnee Indian attacks. He spent a lot of time here... a true woodsman.. people forget.

Finally around Warm Springs Virginia I had to carve off of beautiful Rt 220... head towards the (yuck) Interstate and East. The afternoon was drawing on.. and I had to reach Delaware.

I cut across at Front Royal onto I-66 for Washington DC.. and soon encountered traffic as I neared the 495 Beltway. Up towards Baltimore now.. and I got lucky staying on 95 right through the city and the Tunnel... coming out the otherside near Chevy Chase, heading north, now in the darkness, and for the first time felt an Autumn chill.
Pulled off at Elkton Maryland and headed over to my old Alma Mater, U Delaware. Man, this town has changed in the years since I was here... as with the rest of America, much more Corporate/monolithic building and structures.. and a lot of the gritty "townie" nature of the place have gone. There's a MARRIOTT right in front of the old Pencader Towers(for my U of D pals out there).
Made my way out of town to the edge of Maryland and to old pal Pete Leroy's farm/house. He's got a great pad on a farm of sorts where his brother and father each have theie own lovely homes. There's a horse pasture and a beautiful state park, (donated by the DuPonts) just across the road. Very idyllic and comfortable place. Upon arrival Pete and I jawed endlessly about my trip, (THANK YOU Pete... I sincerely appreciate the "de-briefing" after such a monumental experience). Pete is one of my old Bohemian Comrades from the old Rodney Dormitories; we shared some important growth moments when in school.. and have remained fast friends. A good egg... we can talk of Cosmic Matters easily, still.
Pete's son Max was over for the weekend, and the next day Pete threw a beautiful, high-tech mountain bike at me and said, "LET'S GO" and the three of us romped off through the state park across the road... 2600 acres of Delaware/Maryland natural exquisite countryside.. and it gave me huge flashbacks to the old days when I first arrived in Delaware and was impressed by the rolling woodlands areound White Clay Creek State Park.

Later in the day I rode my motorcycle around the college town and did a lot of sweet reminiscing; it's amazing how all the street details were still tucked in my brain... where certain sewer covers were and how the corners were angled. I did a lot of motorcycling there back in the late Seventies.

Later at night I was invited next door to Pete's dad's home (his father is a retired Neurosurgeon... extremely experienced and respected.. a sitting leader of the Mid Atlantic Board of Nerosurgeons or something)... just an incredible man, born in France, with a wide range of experiences and knowledge. His lovely wife Roseanne cooked us a fantastic pot-roast dinner .. the best home-cooking I'd had in two months. Very nice folks.. a high-end experience for me.. and their welcome to me was awesome.

Back on the Road.... briefly... trying to prepare myself for the abrupt end of this grand trip...

... but one more stop...

No comments:

Post a Comment