My yearly solo motorcycle trip was pretty well-planned, which is unusual for me. Typically, I just point Sam Jr. in a particular direction and go; finding a place to stop and if I like the town, stay there and enjoy it. After being plagued by rain and a shortened trip last year, I figured it was time to actually plan a little. With some interstate travel in the mix, my 900+ mile trek was to be mainly rural and my destinations were pre-determined.
After a fun night visiting my parents and friends in Northeast PA, it was time to make my way to New England, as planned.
I rode the beautiful curves and scenery of Route 6 across PA and into New York; a road less traveled. But I made a wrong turn and didn’t know it until I saw the sign, “George Washington Bridge Ahead”. Oh no, I’m on two wheels about to cross THE bridge into New York City. I asked the toll collector if 95 North was ahead. While many collectors can be short on words, this one said, “yes, and be careful” – not a good sign. I was on a road more traveled…much more traveled.
Indeed, crossing the GW Bridge is spectacular when you’re on a bike; you fully appreciate the awesomeness of the structure and the expanse of the Hudson River. However, riding through the Bronx and onto 95 North was more like walking through the Bronx Zoo without gates or fences. At any point, any vehicle could have taken me out for good. I swear, if I could get my hands on a New York license plate, I would put it on my car just so I would be permitted to drive like a maniac.
As soon as I survived that mess, it was onward up the coast.
After nine hours of mostly roads more traveled, beaten and tired and dirty, I arrived in the seaport town of Mystic, CT. This cute town is small, yet populated with tight-knit and friendly townspeople. I found a motel and a quick cab into town and hit a few pubs, listened to live music and chatted with some locals.
The morning after, I had brunch at a neat place in Mystic. The servers eagerly offered advice on some sights for my journey further north. As instructed, I followed the coast of CT, into Rhode Island finding the awesome little beach town, Misquimicut. Lined with ice cream parlors, surf shops, restaurants and bars, (and lots of bikers) this was a worthy stop. Wearing jeans and boots, I didn’t get any beach time, but had the opportunity to walk the town and smell the ocean air.
Off to Newport, RI. Finally…an easy and straight-forward route coupled with beautiful weather and bridges. Oh, the bridges. To get into Newport, you pass over two medium-length, breathtaking bridges where you can gander over the guard rails and see the water and the boaters that are enjoying it. On a bike, your experience is so much more enhanced when traveling. You smell, see and hear everything. But really, it’s the scenery that is most prominent and that is why these bridges and what they straddle are so impressive.
Newport is an upper-income New Englander town; home to some, playground for many. It has multiple high-end restaurants and million dollar yachts and the people that can afford both. The downside to Newport is that it is taxi-challenged. I met a couple at my motel also waiting for a taxi and we agreed to share the first cab that arrived. Against my will, they handed me the complete $11 fare. Just as they exited, another couple came running, asking to share the cab with me to my final destination. Obviously, I agreed. With the meter still running, the driver took us to town and the final fare was $15. This second couple handed the driver $10 and jumped out. I handed him another $10, he made a $5 tip and I netted a buck. Damn, I’m good – or lucky. This is why I do these trips. Experiencing things with others for short periods of time; people that I will never see again.
I had dinner at Benjamin’s then strolled the town. I found a couple cool places and saw some good live music. At 1am, the bars closed and people began rushing for taxis. Between walking and a cab ride, it took me more than an hour to get back to my room. Newport: work on your transportation options!
First thing, I cruised out of Newport destined for NEPA. Alas, the route I had originally crafted to get to New England in the first place – a nice mix of roads more and less traveled. I made it in time for a mom-home-cooked-meal and had a pleasant time conversing with my parents about my trip and life in general. They’re great to get general advice on life stuff and are just damn good counselors. That night, I found a couple friends at a couple old haunts and called it an early night.
In the morning, my dad took me to breakfast at Tony’s in Kingston and if you’ve never been there, let me tell ya. If you’re far right, you’ll love it. If you’re far left and easily offended, you’ll hate it. But if you enjoy good food, good humor and can put politics aside for an hour, this is a place you have to see.
Time for Lancaster. As usual, my destination was Quips for a couple Guinness and a plate of wings. I’m home.
Do you take roads more traveled or less traveled? They both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Mix it up and take both on your journeys through life. Take roads that are more and less traveled; your experiences will be more fulfilling and you’ll have many more stories to tell!
Trip tallies: 929 miles across 4 states, using 17.1 gallons of fuel @ 54 miles a gallon.