Monday, October 20, 2008

Trip to Washington, DC

This blog represents my daily travel journal entries from a motorcycle trip that I took from Chicago to Washington DC. Total Miles: 1,722

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
377 Miles

Well, I wasn’t sure if I was going to leave for the trip today but I am happy to say I did. I woke up yesterday with a horrible stomach flu. I didn’t feel great when I woke up at 5:30 AM but started to feel better gradually as the day went on. I finally got to Sandra’s around 10:30 AM and we were off about 15 minutes or so later for a rather uneventful day. We took I-94E to I-80W through Indiana to Ohio. By the time we got to the KOA campground in Streetsboro, Ohio (just outside of Cleveland), it was dark. We lit a fire (it took a while but we finally got it). You can see Sandra here enjoying the fire we worked so hard to start. We used our headlights to set up camp (bad idea, Sandra’s battery went dead). By the time we get started, answered a few emails it was almost 11. No dinner just a few snacks, we’ll survive.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008
305 Miles

I woke up at 7 AM feeling pretty good and refreshed. I slept fairly well, considering I was sleeping in a tent – on the ground – in October. As Sandra and I were packing up, it started to drizzle so we started moving faster. Sandra successfully jumped her bike (luckily I had jumper cables). I was starting to feel light headed (probably from not eating much over the last two days) so we went straight to Denny’s for breakfast. (I'm going over our route in the picture here). The waitress was nice and let us spread our wet gear all over the place. I think we left Denny’s at 10:30 or 11:00 AM. As we exited the toll way, the troll in the toll booth gave me a nasty look for my wet money and toll ticket. Luckily I couldn’t hear what she was yapping about. Biddy.

From I-80 we traveled north on Route 7 and made our way over to U.S.–6 East in Pennsylvania. It was a slow ride, so when we stopped in Warren, PA (3 hours later) we decided to ditch our plan to ride across PA on Rte. 6. Oh – Did I mention it never stopped raining and our water proof gloves, socks and boots failed us miserably? That never happened before. Was it the colder weather? Was the rain so incessant that it found a way to seep in? We couldn’t figure it out. Our plan to ditch Rte. 6 was a good one. Instead we took Rte. 666 (it wasn’t as evil as it sounds) to 948 south/east through the Allegheny National Forest – best ride of the day- to 219 South to 153 South/East back to I-80. Side note – the Harley map says that Route 6 in PA is an epic ride – more like an epic pain in the ass (at least the part we rode). We were relieved to hit I-80 at last to makeup sometime but – buzz kill – 6 miles of road construction. We ended our ride at the Comfort Inn (quite nice and a good rate) in Mill Hale, PA. No camping tonight. After riding in the rain all day, we were ready for hot showers, clean laundry and warm beds. Biker chick was ready too.

Thursday, October 9, 2008
230 Miles

I woke up this morning to find a text from Nate Kern. Found out that he had crashed in South Africa and had 6 broken ribs and a collapsed lung. He flew home today. I was expecting to see him on Saturday at Morton’s BMW in Fredericksburg, VA. I guess he won’t be there but more importantly I was worried about him. Poor guy had to fly back from South Africa by himself in that state. The doctors there were amazed that he recovered enough that he could fly back so soon. Keeping him in my prayers for a quick recovery.

We left our hotel around 9:00 and made our way to US–15 South. It was a beautiful day, quite a contrast from the day before. The ride along US–15 followed the Susquehanna River for quite a while. We rode through Harrisburg – snapped a quick picture of the capitol building and rode on to Gettysburg. I had been to Gettysburg when I was in 7th grade and was excited to see it again. We were given great advice by a nice woman at the Gettysburg Tour Center on US–30/Lincoln Highway. We had a quick lunch and went to the Gettysburg Cemetery. We were too lazy to walk over to the other part of the cemetery so we hopped a stone wall and went to the site where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address (a picture of Sandra jumping the wall here). We then walked across the street to one of the Gettysburg battlegrounds. We didn’t want to leave this beautiful place, but we wanted to get to the DC area before rush hour. Sandra and I parted ways in Fredericks, Maryland. She continued on 15 to see her sister in Leesburg, VA, I took 270 South to 495 South to George Washington Pkwy – nice ride (even as traffic began to thicken) to my friends' home in Arlington, VA. My friends, Bageshri and Dilip, have two children, Shalin and Saeli, who are super cute and entertaining. Between talking about the recent presidential debates and chasing the kids, we caught up and gladly retired early.

Friday, October 10, 2008
0 miles
I got up early-ish (6:30), so I could leave with Bageshri at 7:30 and get a ride to the Metro. When I emerged from the subway in DC, it was a quiet, beautiful morning. I checked in with the guard at the Supreme Court to see if it was in session. Nope. Not until Monday. I wandered somewhat aimlessly yet somewhat calculated – past the capitol building, came across some kind of hippy-like happening. It was too early to go into the Botanic Garden and by this time I was getting hungry, but couldn’t find any type of breakfast or coffee places except for a ramshackle stand, so I settled for a Dreamsicle for breakfast there.
Wandering further, I strolled through the sculpture garden of the Hirshhorn Museum and a lovely garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. I enjoyed some tea at the Castle and headed over to the American History Museum – to be shut out again – it’s closed for renovations. Of course, if I had done any pre-planning, I would have known that. I made my way to the Washington monument to have a good, close look at it. As I was departing, I came across another “happening” that looked like a Native-American drum ceremony for women. Next I attempted to visit Ford’s Theater. Strike 3, it too was closed for renovations. But I did venture into the house where Lincoln died across the street. And then success - finally a museum open - The National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum (both located in the same building). I found the staff there to be knowledgeable and helpful. There were a few notable aspects. First, I enjoyed a comparative exhibit of Georgia O’Keefe paintings and Ansel Adams photographs. At first I didn’t see how they compared at all but was interested to find that their art often took them to the same scenes and places. There were also great comparisons of close-up nature photos. I also found the Hall of Presidents to be entertaining and interesting. Finally the courtyard in the building is peaceful and full of light. I took to wandering again and found myself in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. I sat on a bench around the pool, read my book and looked up to see a rainbow in the fountain. That seemed like a great way to end my day in Washington, DC.

After getting slightly disoriented in the Metro underground, I found Bagesheri and we went to the Iwo Jima Memorial and Netherlands Carillon near Arlington Cemetery. After dinner Bageshri, Dilip, Shalin, Saeli and I went to see the new 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. It is a thoughtful remembrance of those that perished both in the Pentagon and those on the airplane. As we watched planes overhead, it made me realize how close Reagan National airport is to the Pentagon. The children, inspired by the overhead planes, asked to view the planes landing and taking off from Reagan National in the nearby park. It seemed that planes were only a few stories above us as they took off. The children squealed with delight and I enjoyed it as well – keeping my squealing to a minimum. We were all tired from a full day and headed home.

Saturday, October 11, 2008
104 Miles

The plan today was to meet Sandra at Morton’s BMW in Fredericksburg, VA at 11:00. Morton's BMW was having their annual Oktoberfest. (And she would have been on time if her sister’s cat hadn’t peed on her bed). I had a pleasant ride from Arlington to Fredericksburg. There were a few particularly bright spots on I-95 and US 1-Jefferson Davis Hwy. When I arrived at Morton’s BMW I immediately met some nice, interesting people including Gordon from (they make custom doormats). Morton’s had great food and great deals. Not that I needed them, but I bought two really nice BMW tees for $10 each plus a Nate Kern 2008 ASRA Thunderbike Championship shirt. I met the owners of the dealership – Jeff and Hannah plus their daughter Christine. I can see why they are so successful. They are the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They run a dealership that has fantastic selection of bikes, parts and apparel, plus really great customer service.

Later in the day I was happy to see Nate arrive with his two dogs (pictured left) and a friend. (Thanks to Jim Doyle for the heads up the night before that Nate would actually make the event.) He is still hurting from his crash, but doing amazingly well considering he was seriously injured just over a week ago. His appearance at the event was a complete surprise to the folks at BMW – and they were ecstatic to see him.

After arriving back at Bageshri’s that evening we went to the Arlington Draft House to see the movie, Mamma Mia. It is a great place to see that movie, as it serves food and drink at your table. The movie itself was much better than I anticipated and really fun to watch.

Sunday, October 12, 2008
706 Miles

Bageshri was nice enough to get up early and make Indian tea and scones before I left at 7:30 this morning. Sandra and I met up at an exit off of I -70 in Maryland. The Harley map didn't note that the exit we chose to meet at was only a one way exit, so found each other at the next one. I was so happy to find Sandra's bike there (and her of course) that I took a picture of it. We decided to super-slab it and see if we could get the ride done in one day. Taking I-70 and I -76 (Pennsylvania turnpike) was absolutely beautiful with colors at peak in some areas. The farms scattered along the way added to its charm. As always, we met some nice people along the way. A woman rider working as a cashier at a service plaza, a couple with Joe Satriani shirts on (he’s a rider too), Forest who owns a motorcycle part distribution company, and a deaf man that stopped to thank us for letting him follow us for miles on I-80. Our trip took us from Virginia through DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and back to sweet home Chicago, IL. We got home around 8:00 that night tired and happy to have made the trip and happy to be home.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Wow! What an eventful trip! Sounds like a great one (minus the sogginess). It's fun reading all the details about it!
A Dreamsicle for breakfast is my kind of breakfast.!