Backroads & Alleyways

Join me as I wander around Central PA aboard my Suzuki V-Strom 650 motorcycle. Sort of a travel(b)log complete with pictures. Bound to get lost now and then - literally and topically.

Friday, July 25, 2008

...Winter Gave Spring a Miss and Went Straight into Summer...

If you're not familiar with Monty Python's "Holy Grail," then the title of this post will make no sense whatsoever, and it's not really worth explaining so...

Wow, I can't believe it's been November since I last posted. No good excuses... didn't fall off the Wee and land on my head putting me into a coma for the last 6 months or anything. Just been busy. Busy with life --- my wife's 2nd rotator cuff surgery, youngest son's graduation from college and start of working career, lot's of work, etc., etc., --- and busy with riding. I put 11,000 miles on the V-Strom since I purchased it last year. Been taking a few pictures during those travels, so I'll go ahead and put a few of them up here:

My wife and our friend Paul on his new Ninja 650 on a chilly day somewhere down towards Pitman, PA

My wife likes to take artsy pictures while riding... two up is fun!

A cool stone, arched bridge I found on a backroad in Perry County

Another of the same bridge...

The Wee after we arrived at Rickett's Glen

If you live anywhere in or near the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, you really need to visit Rickett's Glen.
It is one of the most beautiful places I know of. It's beauty is made even more special by it's relative obscurity and inaccessability... the only way to see the dozen or so falls that line the trail is to hike in to see them... and the hike is not for the faint of heart! The trail is well maintained and the steep sections have either stairs or rocks placed in a stair-like fashion, but it's a LOT of stairs!

If you go, I would advise picking a cool day... not a lot of breeze gets down into the gorge, and the humidity is pretty high with all the water and vegetation.

When we went yesterday it was around 70 and threatening rain on and off, but it was perfect!

I didn't include any pictures of the high waterfalls here... it's beyond my skill to get a picture of them that really does them justice... you really just need to go see them in person.

The park is about 1/2 hour north of Bloomsburg on Rt. 487. The trail (down one gorge, up the other and across the highland trail at the top back to the place you started is a little less than 4 miles... just be prepared to climb a lot of steps!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dressing Like an Astronaut

It's been a couple weeks since my last post and we've had our first snow in the interim. I don't intend to ride in snow... I've done it in the past and I just can't enjoy it. At least not on the bike. Otherwise, I rather like the stuff.

Well, it's the day after Thanksgiving and I rode the bike to Perry County today. It was about 30 when I left home, 33 when I got to New Bloomfield, 37 when I began for home and back down to 30 by the time I got home.

By basically dressing like an astronaut I am able to stay fairly comfortable at these temps. The only thing that got pretty cold was my hands. I've got a set of electric grip heaters on the way, so I think I'm good down to 30 degrees... maybe a little less. We'll see.

The full moon, hanging low over the horizon in the northeast while the sun was setting in the west watched over my homeward journey. I'm just thankful for another day on two wheels and a safe trip home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rolling to Renovo

Only problem is... we never made it. Monday dawned bright and clear... the first day of our vacation. The next few days were promising rain, so it was time to seize the day.

This would be the longest trip Deb and I have taken together on the V-Strom. The plan was to go to the Cranberry Bog just south of Renovo. The day was clear and cool when we left home. The fall foliage was nearing its peak.

Somewhere north of Jersey Shore I made a wrong turn and by the time we figured it out we had gone quite a ways in the wrong direction.

Since the dogs were home alone, we decided to save the Bog for another day. The roads and fall foliage had been so wonderful that not getting to our intended destination wasn't really a bummer. For that matter it leaves us with an excuse to do this ride again someday.

Dropping down into Lock Haven (by mistake) we parked the Strom and walked the Main St. looking for lunch. Coming upon Leo's Deli/Bakery I liked the look of it. The first bite of my Italian pannini sandwich confirmed my choice... it was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had.

On the way home, we turned off before Allenwood and visited the "Ordnance." What was originally the town of Alvira, PA was taken over by the government during WWII and developed to turn out bombs and TNT. Today all that remains are the concrete bunkers, built to store the explosives, overgrown with vegetation. You can see that the reflective piping on my Fieldsheer jacket really works! Also remaining from before the Ordnance is the old Alvira cemetery where you can find the graves of Civil War and World War I veterans.

Be careful on the road in and out of the Ordnance... it looks like they dropped some ordnance on the road!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Like Puff the Magic Dragon...

... frolicking in the autumn mist, that is. The last few days have been foggy in the mornings and then quite summery in the afternoon (sounds like I'm describing a person, not the weather... I know I'm quite foggy most mornings!).

Normally I'm in a great rush to get on the road and get to the client early and get started. Such was the case a few weeks ago on a foggy morning and in my rush I passed up some great pictures. The more I thought about it the more bummed I was that I didn't stop. So this morning when I came over the first ridge and could see the river fog lying down in the valleys, I just had to stop. Actually had to stop a couple of times.

OK... maybe it was three or four times....

The trip home this evening was FAST. I don't normally exceed the speed limit by that much, but tonight traffic was flying... both on Rt 34 and Rts. 11/15. I just hung back aways from some vehicles that were cruising along, although still sometimes being passed by people in a REAL HURRY! The motorcycle feels different at closer to 70 than it does at 60... at higher rpm's the engine just smooths out and almost feels electric.

I mentioned before that when I get home the dogs are happy to see me... THIS is what that looks like...

This is Toodie, our Australian Shepherd and she has brought me her (mangled) soccer ball which she would like me to throw, whereupon she will bring it back and want me to throw it again, and again, and again...

Still, it's good to be home.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

In the Dark

One of my favorite Bruce Cockburn songs, "Pacing the Cage," has a line that says "sometimes the darkness is your friend..."  I don't think he was talking about motorcycling though. It gets kinda creepy on a bike in the dark. Perception is altered, such that cornering is a bit more difficult, visibility is obviously less and, worst of all, deer and other woodland critters are more likely to spring onto the roadway. Although it had cooled down some by the time I got on the road to home at 8:20PM, it was more for protection than cold that I put on my Fieldsheer overpants.

Didn't mean to be out so late... but ended up doing a 5 hour slog with an outside vendor and Sonicwall tech support trying to setup a VPN passthrough on the County's router. Ugh! I understand routers and what they do. I can usually achieve success in setting up what I want, but there are some things about routers that are just perverse and hateful. I guess that's why there are some guys who specialize in routers and basically nothing else.

Ah well... I'm home now, and the dogs were so very happy to see me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Summer in a Bottle

Today was one of those wonderful end of summer days that you just can't waste... there are only going to be a few more like it this year, so you better take advantage of it.

Earlier this year, on a ride in search of an ice cream stand, we ended up at Benigna's Creek Winery just outside Klingerstown, PA. Unfortunately when we got there it was closed. So that sounded like a great destination for today's ride.

The Mahantango Valley in which Rebuck, Klingerstown, Pitman, Leck Kill, etc. are nestled has long seemed to me to be one of the more idyllic areas of Pennsylvania. Years ago when I first ventured into the Mahantango Valley, it was one of those "winter's nearly over" sort of days. Magically, once I climbed over the mountain and began to drop into the protected valley I found that Spring had already arrived there...

The trip to the Winery was great. The low-to-mid 70's temps were perfect for our mesh jackets, the sun was bright and the air clear. The winery itself was nice. A small crowd was already there, tasting and buying wine when we arrived. We got right to it! Some of the wines were excellent, particularly the Patriot Red and the Benigna's Blush which has a wonderful grapefruity flavor typical of wines made with Stueben grapes. They also had a number of really tasty fruit wines. Wine is so special... like summer caught in a bottle.

I should at this point mention that my wife Deb, is a first rate photographer and I let her take over the camera on the way home. Lets just say that a beautiful day in rural Pennsylvania is a target rich environment for her! This beautiful country church is just outside Urban, PA. I'm just not sure why it is called "Urban."

As you can see, Deb is into "artsy" pictures. I'm not even going to try to provide commentary on all of them, so here they are for your enjoyment...

On the way home we went through one of Pennsylvania's many covered bridges. This one is just below Himmel's Church just outside of Rebuck. Some of the roads near this bridge were covered with buggy tracks. There are quite a few Amish in the area.

Although it's forcasted that the temperatures will climb into the mid eighties this week, the nights are decidedly cooler. In a couple weeks the leaves will begin their annual autumn pageant, and then fall before the oncoming winter... Fortunately, we've got some summer, tightly stoppered in brightly labeled bottles of wine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Commute

Two days a week (sometimes 3) my job takes me to New Bloomfield, PA... the county seat of Perry County. Actually the job doesn't do it... my car or motorcycle do the actual task of taking me there.

Perry County is an interesting place. When I tell people I manage the computers and network for the Perry County government, they usually express surprise that they have computers in Perry County, which is known for being somewhat backwards. I believe it may still be the only county in Pennsylvania without any stoplights.

I have been doing their computer work for about 9 years now, during which time the network has grown from 34 PCs and 1 server to over 170 (and 20 servers)

I will forgo telling any Perry County jokes here, although most of them were told to me by people in Perry County, which illustrates how gracious and good-humored most of them are down there.

Its a 94 mile round trip each time I go to Perry. It's a varied bit of travel: stop and go through Sunbury and Shamokin Dam, a stop in Selinsgrove for an excellent cup of coffee at the Kind Cafe, a (usually) high speed blast down 11/15, and then my favorite part: turning away from the river onto Rt. 34 and the run through the woods to Newport and then another stretch of rural two lane from Newport to New Bloomfield.

I love seeing the land in different seasons and weathers. This morning the woods looked like this:

There are some cool spots along 11&15 too. McKee's Half Falls is kinda spiffy even though it's more of a rapids than "half falls." Here's the V-strom at the Half Falls rest area.

This little rest area even has a port-a-potty! Here's the "half-falls" themselves. They are more impressive in the spring when the river is up, but nice any time.