Here is a (reasonably) short video compilation from the trip. Not all of you will get the subtle references within - they are really meant for a select audience. All can enjoy though....
Motorcycle Trip to Gettysburg – 8/19/11 – 8/24/11
Day 1 – Wales, ME to Fishkill, NY
Max and I left the house at about 9:30 this morning. This trip marks the start of a new tradition – including the boys on our trips. Alex started school today, so he couldn't be the first to join us. Instead, it was up to Max. He was a little nervous to start, but after scoring some great (and inexpensive) motorcycle riding gear with Stephanie at Marden's yesterday (Jacket for $25 and pants for $20), he looked like a seasoned pro.
We made one stop at the bank on the way out of town, but didn't stop again until Kennebunkport. We stopped at the rest area and Max looked a little tired, but was still game to go. The next time we stopped was in Lawrence, MA for gas and lunch at Wendy's. After a good lunch, Max really seemed to perk up. He was a trooper all afternoon and we put in a solid 3 hrs of riding until we reached our hotel in Fishkill, NY without stopping.
Tim had it a little more difficult coming in from Potsdam. He stopped to visit with his folks in Oswego, and then headed to meet us in Fishkill. On the second leg of his trip, he got caught in a nasty thundershower that included the worst hail that he has ever ridden through. That is saying something, because we have ridden through some tough storms in the past. When he met us in Fishkill, he was pretty soaked, but otherwise, no worse for wear.
The thundershower that he rode through caught up to us while we were in the hotel. We thought about ordering out for supper, but as quickly as it arrived, it passed over us. So, we walked to a nearby Ruby Tuesday and had a nice supper together.
Tomorrow, we head to Gettysburg...
Day 2 – Fishkill, NY to Gettysburg, PA
The day started overcast and cool and we were a bit worried that the skies were going to open up on us and we would be into our raingear. Fortunately, that didn't happen and we enjoyed cool temperatures and sunnier skies as the morning went on. We stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel, and with our bellies full, we set out to ride the last hour and a half or so to Gettysburg. That's when the skies really cleared, the sun came out, and we started to bake! By the time we got to Gettysburg, the temperature was up to 91 degrees. Way to hot for my tastes, so we checked into the hotel, unpacked, and cooled off a little before heading to the Gettysburg Visitor's Center to figure out our plan of attack for the next couple of days.
I discovered on the last leg into Gettysburg that I can get more than 270 miles out of a tankful on the FJR. We probably should have filled up after lunch but thought we would find something further down the road. By the time I decided I really needed gas, there was nothing around until I got close to Gettysburg. We made it without incident and when I checked my mileage, I found that I was averaging better than 47 mpg for that tankful. Not too shabby for two-up fully loaded riding.
We went to the Gettysburg Visitor's Center and signed up for the “Value Pack” which includes the movie, cyclorama and a bus tour. We did the first two tonight and will be going on the bus tour tomorrow. We will also be taking a guided walking tour of Little Round Top.
Had a nice supper at an Italian restaurant and now we are ready for bed.... More tomorrow!
Day 3 – Gettysburg!
There is a lot to see at Gettysburg – far more than we would have time for, so we had to prioritize our visit. For me (and Max), I was really interested in seeing Little Round Top, home of the famous defensive stand led by Maine's own Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. For Tim, he knew a little about an ancestor of his that fought in Gettysburg and was eager to learn more. We spent some time yesterday with the Park Rangers and tour guides to figure out what we were going to do and when, and with that plan in hand, we headed out.
The weather report called for a chance of showers, so we brought our rain gear. However, it was very warm and humid, so we wore shorts beneath our riding gear. Turned out to be a wise call on both counts. We got sprinkled on a little early in the day, but were then able to stow the rain gear throughout the majority of our visit.
We started back at the visitor's center where Tim got a chance to do some research on his great, great, …. grandfather, whose name we learned was William Flack and who fought for the 147th New York Infantry Regiment. We also learned where on the battlefield he fought and where the monument to that regiment was located. This would be a site we would have to visit later in the day!
We took advantage of a Ranger led walking tour of Little Round Top. The Ranger was excellent in his knowledge and explanation of the events that unfolded on that part of the battlefield. I came away with a better understanding and appreciation for what happened there. For Max, it was his first exposure to a battlefield of any kind. I hope that the impression left with him was that of the importance of that point in our country's history and a desire (if not now, than perhaps later) to continue to learn and understand more about our history.
After the tour of Little Round Top we went back to the visitor's center for a light lunch, followed by a bus tour of the entire battlefield. I know - “bus tour” sounds SO touristy, but it was a good choice for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it was the best way to get an overall view of the entire site in the time we had available. Second, it was led by another very effective and informative tour guide. Third, the air conditioned bus was just the ticket on that hot and sticky afternoon.
Following the bus tour, we set out to find that monument to the 147th New York. We found it and took a bunch of photos there. After, we set out to make use of my new GoPro HD helmet cam. We re-traced most of the route taken by the tour bus, but this time with the helmet cam on. It was fun way to record our visit there. We stopped at several places and viewing towers on the way for still photo shots.
Before we knew it, the afternoon was gone and it was nearly 6 PM. It was a full day and we were all getting a bit hungry, but there was one more stop that Tim & I wanted to make. Gettysburg College has a chapter of Sigma Chi, our fraternity, so we thought we would stop by and take a look. We found it and as luck would have it, there were a couple of Brothers in the house even though school was not yet back in session. They gave us the nickel tour of the house and we chatted for a short while.
We could have probably stayed longer, but we wanted to get going before some very ominous rain clouds got to us. Alas, our timing was just a bit off, and the deluge came as we walked out to the motorcycles. We grabbed our rain gear and dashed back to the cover of the porch at the Sigma Chi house. After donning the gear, we made the short, but very wet drive back to the hotel. I learned that my aging rain gear has apparently reached the end of its useful life. Note to self.... time to buy new rain gear.
Day 4 – Back to Fishkill
Our stay at Gettysburg was too short, but schedules dictated that we had to head home. We made one last ride through town and stopped in to a motorcycle shop where I picked up some new gloves. After that, it was back on the road to NY.
The weather this day was the best so far. Sunny, mild and no chance for rain. We stopped for lunch at a diner in Schuylkill, PA (in the same town that we stopped in on the way down). We enjoyed a nice lunch with homemade pie for desert, and then it was back to the bikes.
Not much to describe during this portion of the trip. We just put the miles behind us. I will say that PA has really improved their interstates since the last time I drove / rode through. There are also sections of I-84 that really are beautiful. I don't get to say that about many interstates.
We arrived back in Fishkill around 4:00 PM. We took some time to unpack and unwind before heading out for supper at the I-84 Diner. This was the biggest “Diner” that I have ever seen, and with its Greek owners – the food was fantastic! The portions were huge, and though we couldn't finish them, we felt compelled to grab something from their tremendous desert cake (to go). We enjoyed those treats later in the evening after supper had settled a bit. If I ever find myself in Fishkill again, I'll be stopping in for more!
Day 5 – The ride home
Parting is sweet sorrow. Tim & I don't get together as much as we would like, but it does help to make each of these trips that much more special. We packed up our things and said our 'good-byes' at the motorcycles. He headed west on I-84 before heading north on I-87 home. Max and I continued east on I-84 and retraced our steps from Day 1. Traffic was a little heavy in some areas, but not too bad. I elected to stop at another diner for lunch in MA rather than a fast food chain. Looking back at it, I should probably have done the latter. That diner was a bit pricey for a couple of sandwiches fries and soft drinks (over $20). Oh well, we were still on our trip, and had really good luck until then.
We arrived home mid-afternoon – just in time to dig into a plumbing leak at the house. Drat – back to 'reality'.
Next year – looks like we may head to France, or a little piece of it! Stay tuned for details!
Until then, here is a photo slide show of the photos we took on this trip. Videos to follow soon!
A view getting back onto I-84 after lunch on the way to Gettysburg: