48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today – 401 – Total Miles – 10,836 – Average –270.9 (travel days)
10:45am- 8:45pm – 10hrs.
ROANOKE, VA to HAVERTOWN, PA (western Philadelphia suburb)
(-staying at Home! VA,WV,MD,DE,PA (48/48!!)
– HOME! –
Breakfast was at one of those ubiquitous Waffle Houses again. And this one was only feet from the motel room door. I ate that waffle slowly, knowing that this was to be the final breakfast of a wonderful trip. Each forkful I sliced and ate deliberately and much of the day I proceeded in the same manner. The cute, freckly young woman waitress with the huge southern accent smiled at us on our way out when we were done. “Y’all have a gud day!”
Karen was going to try a little pillow on her seat this day. But when she sat on it she was just too high. (She had tried using her orange padded-like cold vest the other day as a cushion, but it didn’t work out for her. And I was just as glad since it threw the dynamic of the bike off a bit.) Sometimes throughout the trip, either because she had lost some weight or because she was leaning back more, I couldn’t feel her in back of me. And I had to actually look in the mirror to make sure she was still there!
During the trip we’ve seen mostly motorcyclists in black, of course. And before today there was exactly just one other guy in one of the hi-viz yellow suits. But today we saw a business guy who was presumably on his way to work as he had his briefcase strapped to the back of his gold Goldwing. And he not only had the yellow full suit but also a bright yellow helmet like mine.
It was a smooth riding day toward and through landscape that was known to both of us – especially at the end. Throughout the day it began to look more and more like home was coming at us. We had a few sprinkles of rain, but nothing significant.
We stopped more frequently than usual on this last day of the ride. Instead of every 100 to 110 miles (or about an hour-and-a-half), we stopped about every 75 or so miles. This, partly because of sore butts and partly to savor the day.
When we hit the traffic around Baltimore Karen said, “Well, back to the congested northeast again!” I noted the difference in the air quality as we moved into the northeast corridor. The smog and/or humidity I guessed.
One sign off the major highway around Baltimore stated boldly that motorcycles should beware the bridge ahead because of open vertical grates and I wasn’t relishing that in the near-dark. But, thank goodness a turnoff came before that bridge.
We stopped on I-95 at the Maryland House and had salads at a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant there. We had stopped at around 7ish and lingered over that dinner. But had I known it was going to get dark as soon as it did, we wouldn’t have stayed so long. Esther, a lady with really unfortunate teeth (one sharp pointy one in the front middle of the bottom jaw, and fused decayed ones on top), was very friendly and helpful. Extra friendly, in fact. She followed us out the door and gave Karen a little Bob’s Big Boy as a memento of the last part of our journey. Then a little boy came up to her with big eyes, and asked, “What are YOU doing here?” Karen said we were motorcyclists not firemen, but the young lad’s dad explained, “Oh, he thought you should be up on the space shuttle!” (Which was making big news at the time, as it was supposed to land in a day or two.)
Shortly, we had our final gas-up of the trip and on our way on the last leg. By 8:15ish it began getting dark and we were on the last major highway in dimness After that we were on what’s called the Blue Route – a road that dumps us off within five minutes of home.
Regrettably, there was danger there, too. In fact, one of the three or four incidents – which could have gone either way in making this trip really uncomfortable or deadly – occurred within the final fifteen minutes of the ride today.
One of those incidents you’ll recall was back on day 22, the Avenue of the Giants day. That was when we toppled over on the bike. If one of our limbs was just a few inches one way instead of the other, we surely would have suffered a broken something. But the bike crash bars were constructed soundly, and our suits helped, and we tucked in just right. Nothing but embarrassment there.
Another incident has gone unreported. That was also on day 22. At my former student, June’s home, we were unpacking stuff. Our gear was brought into the house. Well, I decided to take out my contact lenses and was leaning over the big back bag doing so. As I took out one of the lenses it slipped from my grasp and tumbled to who knows where. Although I had an old back-up pair and a pair of glasses, it would have been a very uncomfortable trip without my regular lenses. After about ten minutes I found the elusive lens in and amongst some folds of clothing.
There were a couple times during the trip when the adventure might have come to a sudden and painful ending when I stumbled and almost tripped over curbs. You know, those close calls that could go either way but one rights him or herself just in time!
Well, on the way back on this last day in the evening glooming we hit construction in the final five miles of the ride. And it was the kind of construction that has one of the two lanes already newly blacktopped and the other lane not completed yet. So there is a lip between the two lanes going the same way. Now this is no big deal to a car’s four wheels but to a motorcycle it can mean life or death if that lip is hit in just the wrong way – especially around a curve. I was conscious of the road situation, and was very very careful to stay away from that road danger, but once going around a curve and in the midst of a bunch of traffic, the mc veered over to that lip, and there was that few moments hesitation of the bike toppling before I righted it with balance maneuvers. I don’t think Karen even noticed, but I sure did, and was breathing heavily for a while after.
By mid-evening we were pulling into the carport from where we had left 40 days ago, a wealth of new experiences under our belt and wonderful images to replay in our minds for many years to come.
Over the next week or two I will be sending you a couple Afterwords and also some other info about the trip along your way. It was sure good having everyone with us on the journey. Plans are being made for the next one — and hoping you’ll join us on that one, too.