Donuts and RVs

In the morning I got a better tour of the 200 year old building I slept in, and some of the surrounding area. A lot of it was being “developed,” which meant a lot of land was being parceled out and new stuff put up.  RI is a small state, and apparently people don’t like to drive more than 5 or 10 minutes anywhere – 15 minutes is considered a long drive. This has resulted in a share divsion between urban and rural around Providence, and inflated land prices.

Another thing about the North East is the Dunkin Donuts. Now, we have those in the midwest as well, but nothing like the density they have in the NE. On the way to Twisted Throttle we passed 4, and a brief discussion once we arrived showed some others passed as many as 10. Most people were sporting coffee from there, after the late night, and I bought some donuts to say thanks for having me. In Milwaukee I wouldn’t have used Dunkin Donuts for that, but when in Rome (and Rhode Island)….

I’d been adjusting my valves every morning since I’d replaced the adjusters, and checked them again before leaving Twisted Throttle and heading west. I hadnt gone west for a while, and only had a bit over a hundred miles to go before reaching my goal for the day. A few days eariler, my girlfriend had left Milwaukee and started east, traveling in our new basecamp vehicle, a 1984 Winnebago Chieftain – 


We’d named him Cliff, and the idea was to use him has a base while we explored areas on the motorcycles, specifically with Sue’s two girls (8 and 10,  at the time). Sue had used him a few times during the summer, and we’d all managed one weekend trip (without the motorcycles), but this was the first time Cliff had crossed state borders. She had been wandering around for a few days, and planned to meet me in Albany. We didn’t work out any further plans than that – so as the morning and afternoon passed there were a variety of messages as we tried to work out where in Albany we were going to meet. In the end we picked a Walmart lot, and I arrived not long after she did.

Now we faced the small issue of needing a trailer. We hadn’t bought on before I’d left, since back then it wasn’t clear if Sue would be coming east or not. We called around Albany only to learn non one rented trailers, especially for one way. A couple attempts to find one on the local Craigslist also failed, and with the help of the Home Depot guys we found ourselves at Trailer Supply, where we  bought a trailer that was actually on sale, for less than we’d been expecting to pay to rent. It was “only” 5×8, which might cause issues later when it’s time to carry more than one motorcycle, but for now it was just Curiosity and there was plenty of room for that.

While bringing the trailer back from Trailer Suppy, one of the belts on Cliff broke. It had been squeaking some, so it wasn’t a totaly surprise. We managed to get back to the Walmart where Curiosity was parked to assess. It was getting dark, so we exposed the engine (which can be done from inside – a nice feature for when it’s raining) and confirmed the loss of the belt.

Walmart has this thing where some of them – most of them really – allow RVs to stay for free. We didn’t want to make a habit of it, BLM land has a similar policy and is generally nicer to stay in. But, since we were there, it was dark, and I didn’t want to spend hours working on the engine, we called it a night. In the morning, we found we had the correct spare already on board, and I started to adjust things to try and get it on.


While I’ve worked on engines, even car engines, before, it’s been a while. It was taking me a while, though I was pretty sure I was going to get it (I really was, it was just a matter of getting things adjusted). Sue was (understandably) getting worried about me making it to work on Monday. I was willing to miss a day if I had to, and we couldn’t find anyone open (it was Saturday) who was willing to look at Cliff.

A tow truck pulled into the lot, and I walked over to ask for a tip on getting the belt on. That guy, who was there to visit his girlfriend, grabbed my tools and had everything done in about 10 minutes. Sue called the number on the tow truck to give a compliment, and we were on the road.

Since we didn’t know when were leaving, we hadn’t thought about where we were going. While heading east, we decided it would be faster to cut through Canada and see Niagara Falls. 

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Road Island (and PEZ)

I was headed for Twisted Throttle, where I was going to be talking about my trip and packing. It wasn’t that far anymore, when I woke up in the morning, but I was confident I would find something along the way to distract me. This happened not long after I was in Connecticut with I saw signs for the Pez Musuem.

Now, I am not saying Pez is good for you, and I certainly don’t have the time, space, or money to start collecting (even more so at the level of the people highlighted in the museum), but I do like the ocassional Pez and the idea of a museum of the stuff couldn’t be passed up. So, I exited and tried to follow the signs – which weren’t that clear – to Pez mecca.

As it turned out, this was the major manufacturing plant for Pez in the United States and North America. The museum was only a small part of the overall building, and there wasn’t really a tour (as there is at other candy plants, like Jelly Belly). There were some pretty large windows you could look through at workers in lab coats and hair nets doing things with pez packages by the hundreds. But the cool thing about the museum wasn’t the production line, but the hundreds of vintage Pez on display. While I like Pez, I don’t pretend to be an expert (or even particularly knowledgable – that is why I stop at places like this). The first Pez were lemon only, and the dispensers didn’t have cool heads to them. People still bought them, but it wasn’t until the heads appeared things really took off.

The museum had a “gift shop,” which was essentially one wall of the room. It was $5 to enter, but for entering you got some free Pez, and there was a little card to fill out (you had to find the picture and identify the Pez dispenser) for a free dispenser. There was also a credit in the store, so really you could get your $5 back in stuff. I bought some extra dispensers for gifts, and Pez (to eat). Then it was back on the road, headed east.

Rhode Island didn’t look much different when I entered it, fall was just starting and the colors were changing. The coastal road had old stone bridges and tiny rest areas with fuel and convenience stores. There were a lot of cars that seemed to just be waiting there without moving, more cars than there were people, and I wondered if people used them as carpool meet-ups. 

I arrived at Twisted Throttle in the afternoon, not sure what I’d see. Like Revzilla, it was a store of motorcycle gear, but Twisted Throttle seemed to have more practical stuff, and way more than a selection of jackets and pants (They did have some jackets and pants too). I got a tour of the building and some sneak peaks at future product, then we all went out to lunch at (of all things) a BBQ place. It wasn’t bad, but a few days earlier I’d been in the south and RI BBQ just wasn’t going to compete. After we ate, I tried to let them work while I wondered if anyone was going to show up for the talk I was giving that night. It was Thursday, which seemed like an odd night to have an event, but as night came on people started to dribble in until there was about 20 people. Since I wasn’t sure what they’d been expecting, I was a bit worried about it, but apparently that was a decent turnout for one of their events and they were happy.

Since I wasn’t sure what to talk about, I gave a combination ride report/packing talk. As always, people were impressed with Curiosity and surprised by the very small pile of things I packed along. You really don’t need very much gear to travel, something people know but don’t fully internalize.

Part of my deal with Twisted Throttle was somewhere to stay, and while I’d expected a budget hotel I was instead offered sleeping space at one of the employee’s houses – a farm house from the 1700s that was simply fantastic. The barn was full of motorcycles and the view amazing. I slept really well.
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The City of Brotherly Love

I’ve been a bit busy at the start of this year, something which has been both good and bad. But spring is slowly creeping back over the midwest, and with it dreams of being on the road.

I left Delaware and headed north and east, not far. I have friends who work at Revzilla’s Philadelphia location, and since I’d never been to their retail store I was eager to check it out. Not that there was anything I really needed, but it’s fun to look. It’s more fun to hang out with friends.

First though, it was lunch time and I decided to try one of the things Philly is know for – cheese steaks.

Now, I know there is a lot of  opinions on cheese steaks in Philly (a city with a lot of opinions in general), so I went tourist and tried Pat’s. It was Pat’s over Ginos based solely on the availablity of parking, which seemed as fair as any other means of choosing. Riding through the streets of Philly was fun, narrow one way roads with terrible surfaces and close pack houses that reminded me of the 20s and 30s. Not that was I around then, just what I’ve heard.

After lunch I was off to Revzilla. GearChic (Joann) was working out front, and helped me find MadSocial (Rania), who gave me a breif tour before everyone posed with Curiosity.

Rania and Joann had time for lunch, so we went to a place called Urbn (the tables clearly read Burn, but what do I know?), a favorite for them near the Navy port. I’d just had the cheesesteak, so I contented myself with a tea and cookie.

It was good to catch up with them, Rania in particular since she’d been the one to introduce me to my girlfriend Sue. After lunch it was back to Revzilla where I browsed the racks, looking at all the cool stuff that was available. If you can get to the store I recommend it, but even if you can’t they do a lot of online business. And of course, the YouTube reviews, though they weren’t filming when I was there.

After that I got back on the road. I wanted to get through New York before stopping for the night, and getting through that megaopolis was wearing on my mind. A friend I’d met back the Overland East texted a few times, wondering if I was headed to Barber for the vintage weekend, which was coming up. Alister was from Australia and on his way south, riding a KLR. We traded a few messages, my saying I was headed the other way and telling him Barber was worth a visit. I checked in just sort oof New York, not wanting to stop until I was as clear as I could be along the Alantic Cost.

It actually wasn’t that bad, though I did stay well clear of the city proper, other than seeing it in the distance. Other than that, it wasn’t anything different than any other urban riding, with the added thrill of not being sure of the route. A combination of street signs and bluetooth GPS directions got me through, where I learned there is just no where to camp along that stretch of coast from NYC to Providence. After some effort, I found a hotel that wasn’t too far out of my budget, and sent a text to Alister to say I’d made it. I didn’t get an answer.

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Overland Expo East 2014, Part three

When I’d set up my ride plan, before leaving, I’d planned to head towards friends in Maryland after the expo, then continue to visit along the east coast while I rode towards Twisted Throttle in Rhode Island. I was going to be giving a talk there, and had given myself a few days to ride up. That was before my engine issues, though, and now things would have to change.

Instead I pointed Curiosity towards Delaware, where I’d had some parts shipped so I could fix the engine. This was not far, but with the lack of power (Curiosity could really only manage 45mph) it was going to take two days to get there. So, leaving late on Monday probably didn’t help. It was another cool morning and I wanted to say good bye to the Overland Expo staff who were already busy taking everything down and cleaning up the venue. I know how much work it take to put on an event the size of the Expo, and appreciate all the effort the staff and volunteers put in.

I tried the interstate for a while, but didn’t feel save at the speeds Curiosity wanted to move, so exited onto the smaller highways. I like that sort of travel better, anyway, but it’s not always the best for making miles – especially in the highly developed East Coast.

The Virginia Welcome Center was decorated in “Virginia is for Lovers” theme, which made me miss my girl friend back in Wisconsin. But there were coupon books for hotels and I grabbed one. I rode until after dark (something I am not a fan of doing), and found a hotel with a discount coupon for the night. After the chilly weekend of camping at the expo, the hot shower felt very nice. I still think hammocks are more comfortable than beds, though I wasn’t going to complain.

I was up early in the morning, leaving just after daylight. I still had a long way to go, and wanted to arrive at Chris’s (from The Pace Motorcycle Podcast) that night. He had graciously offered me a couch, somewhere to fix Curiosity, and picked up the parts from the local motorcycle shop who’s ordered them in. Curiosity’s weakened condition again led me astray, and a distance which should have been an easy day’s ride ended up with my arriving after dark, tired and a bit stressed. I was, to be honest, probably not the best company. But Curiosity’s parts were there and, after sitting and talking for a while and a good night’s sleep, in the morning I installed the new adjustment screw for the intake valve. And the bike wouldn’t start. After some more tinkering I regapped the spark plug and was on my way.

Chris was already at work when I hit the road, but I still can’t thank him enough for aiding a rider in need, even though I didn’t really need his full-on moto-garage. He also gave me some good tips on getting to where I wanted to go next – RevZilla in downtown Philly.

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