Day 3
September 6th, 2005
Pipestem State Park
Near Princeton, West Virginia

The morning was foggy, cool (for Alabama Flatlander) and damp.  I was out of my tent and striking camp by 6:30am.  I slept well the night before, and was looking forward to the ride north in the West Virginia Hills.  
Starting a cold motor on the Honda I warm it till the FI brings the idle down, but on the BMW I just start and ride off in a few seconds.  It seems odd to do that, but those who have been around the boxer twins far longer say its the way to do it.

The Indiana Gold Wing couple was fast asleep when I slipped by them on my way out of the park to SR 20.
At the park entrance I made a left, and continued my ride from the day before.  Pre trip planning told me today's ride will go in for over 500 miles, over half in the hills.  

My route today is basically the same as that in 2002.  That year I went north to State College, but this year I'll break west for Philly, when I enter Pennsylvania. 

Sticky fog hangs in the valleys and along the hillsides, as I rode SR 20 near Bluestone Lake.  Visibility was down and I used caution moving along the highway.  The area is thick in deer and my eyes scanned the shoulders of both sides for any advance warning of a beast about to jump me, but it was hard to see anything.
​A foggy morning on SR 20
The curves start quickly, but the RT responds just as quick.  The bike is quick to lean over, and its light steering is very responsive to any body movements.  The RT is in its element on a road like this.   It is so much lighter and nimble feeling than the Honda STs I'd been on the last 135k miles.

At Hinton I went left SR 20 for SR 3, an even more intense road that sliced deep into the hills.  School buses choked the city streets, and it took longer than usual to break out.  

The road surface was good, but reading the pavement was difficult in the mist and fog.  The pavement was black asphalt, making it hard to see wet leaves. 

Curves came at me in a rapid buildup, each more tricky than the last.  The state does a good job at keeping the shoulder built up, the only problem with that are the trucks who nip it on right handers.  This flings gravel and rocks in almost all of those type of curves.  The left handers were ok.  

I stopped in Alderson to check the atlas, a town of white churches, wood frame houses, and auto part stores.  Like most West Virginia hill towns, a creek flowed through the middle of it.  I caught myself making a wrong turn, and stopped at the curb to see what was going on, and to find out how come the route was not marked.  I went back across the creek to the intersection in question, to see the route WAS clearly marked, but because I was looking at the town itself, I missed it.
​I broke out of the fog, and enjoyed the glory of U.S. 219
After getting back on route, I finished up SR 3 and turned north on U.S. 219, a great route that extends the length of the state.  I planned to leave the roadway before then, and head over to Seneca Rocks.

The highway is pretty much routine to Lewisburg, where I took my first break of the day at Shell con store on the north side of town.  I bought a Mountain Dew and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I ate the sandwich on the curb, while I talked to Debbie on the phone.  When I finished I took a short walk to a nearby bank to use the ATM.  I live off my debit card and AE card on the road, but its nice to have a few bucks if something unusual happens.

U.S. 219, one of my favorite roads in the east, and this morning I was reminded as to why.  
​  "U.S. 219, one of my favorite roads in the east"
After crossing I-64 the route grows into a 2 wheel homage to road building.  It curves relentlessly north to the state line almost 200 miles away, around thick timberland, and up and down inclines the road tests your mettle.
By now the morning sun had burned off the mountain fog, and the day was perfect.  Warm and sunny, no clouds anywhere.

The Pearl Buck Museum and birthplace called for a few pictures.  I never read any of her books, but the grounds where she lived was nice and worthy of a snapshot.
​The Pearl Buck Museum and birthplace
A slow moving 18 wheeler took the starch out of me near Snoshoe.  I was trapped behind him for almost 10 miles, before being forced to take him on a long downhill with a double yellow.  

My riding varied from kind of sporty to slow as I rode north.  The mountain towns were quiet and most of the time easy to get through.  Everyone was at a job by 9am leaving the roads to those that knew what to do with them for something other than a way to work.

The RT heeled over on the twisty road over and over.  Back and forth I kept carving the BMW, it was seldom upright the entire ride into Elkins.  I was on the outskirts of town stuck in a contruction zone by 12:15am.  "Now'd be a good time for lunch."  A billboard advertising the Steer Steakhouse caught my attention, and I followed the signs to the establishment.
​Just doing his job, but that still doesn't mean I like it
I skipped the lunch buffet at the Steer and ordered grilled chicken and a baked potato off the menu.  I had little hope of being able to run at the end of the day, because I knew it would be too late by the time I arrived in Philly, but I was going to eat as if I might.

After lunch I called Debbie and Peter Menard.  Peter gave the latest weather report, a good one.  "Man, no rain for the rest of the week, ya gotta good hand to play this trip."

Before leaving the table, I stuffed a 10 dollar bill in my right sleeve pocket for the upcoming Turnpike.

From Elkins I took SR 55 to Seneca Rocks, a divided highway the first 10 miles or so out of town.  I was riding along when a BMW 1200 RS and Ducati something came around me.  I was cruising along about 65 mph when they flew around.  I dropped a gear to keep up, and off we went.  I was doing ok with the sport bikes and the riders might have been surprised I was able to match many of their leans on the RT.  I had no problem with the handling, but the motors on the sport bikes were too much.  Things were on the verge of getting out of hand when I let them go.  "Nah I ain't doing this, got nothing to prove.  I'm pretty sure they're better than me, and I don't need a wreck to find that out."  The ego of those guys was such they were NEVER going let a touring bike ride near them, and they were willing push however fast needed to prove it, even it meant riding into the grill of an RV, if one of them runs wide.

I've seen riders that just have to prove how fast they are, or feel like they need folks to oh and ah when they come by.  The only thing that impresses me, is how dumb some guys can be when riding on the street, risking their lives and well being on such a foolish code.  The 2 bikes quickly disappeared in the hills at 90 mph on the tricky road.  I wanted to tell them, "hey y'all are faster than me, you ain't gotta risk your life to prove it."  Hoping the gesture would slow them down.   I'm sure they'd respond, "but were riding within our skill."  "Noway, you can't ride that speed on these roads, and be in control.  If something happens you have not one thing you can do to avoid a wreck."  When you are riding so fast, you can't compensate for the unexpected, than in MY opinion you are OUT of control.

I continued my ride on 55 half expecting to see one of the bikes in the trees or plastered on some car, but they lived to ride another day.  

SR 55 divides the Monongahela National Forest right down the middle.  The ride was good as the RT and I carved along the slopes and hills, and through the mountain villages of Job, Harman and Onego.  The highway joined SR 28 at Seneca Rocks.  The rock formation plainly visible overlooking the cross roads.
​Seneca Rocks
The run through the hills was over, and now it was time to just ride it out to Cumberland to pick up I-68.  I went to the interstate and followed 68 east to I-70.  

The route takes you near the Cumberland Trail.  Several nice views of the mountains can be witnessed from the highway.  

A short ride later I pulled my ticket out of the slot to get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  The first of the many tolls I was going to pay in this part of the country.  I normally skip this kind of riding, but it was late afternoon, and in reality there are NO back roads in this part of the country to explore, I was heading for the Northeast Corridor.  I tried to avoid it, but I can't get to the coast unless I take it on.  
​These painted barns were once common all over the south.
I found this relic somewhere on US 219.

The 65 mph speed limit on the Turnpike is enforced and state police were everywhere cleaning up what was left of the Labor Day migration.  I set the cruise on the RT at 70 to stay out of trouble.  Signs said it was 100 miles or so to Philly.  I've stayed in the area a few times, and have a room waiting for me at the Motel 6 at Prussia.   I know the area from prior tours, and feel comfortable there.

I had to come off cruise when I got boxed in by 2 gravel trucks 20 miles later.

Scenery on the Turnpike is not all that bad, quiet farmland, pastures, and a few backyards of clustered suburbia.  Why anyone builds a house with a Turnpike for a view I don't know, perhaps the price is right?
A couple of times I went past large cattle fields and it smelled like Kansas.

I gassed up at the last service exit before Philly, and was hosed for 3.51 a gallon gas.  I was only 20 or so mile from my final destination, and was looking forward to a nice supper and a bed.  

The toll booths came into view, and I picked one of the cash lanes, checking my footing before putting any pressure down.  I handed my ticket over and sent reeling by the price of riding 100 miles of Turnpike.  " 9.45 please."  "Dayum!" The most expensive 100 miles of my career. "Y'all are awesome, are YOU sure?  Read the ticket again, I just got on east of Harrisburg."  "Don't have too, 9.85 please."  I took out the 10 dollar bill I stuffed in my sleeve earlier, and returned with 15 cents.
Because I ride so many back roads, I spend my time
enjoying views like this West Virginia Valley.​ 

My exit was only a few blocks from the booths, and I went in for the night.  I've stayed here before and wasn't fooled by the tricky driveway, it comes up quickly behind a barricade.  Missing it means you're screwed and have to take a long ride on busy streets to get turned around.  There is NO access from the other side, so you have to go down and BACK past the Motel to get in.  Don't ask me how I know that.

I was in room 146, and was instructed to park near the pool entrance.  After finding my room I moved the RT down a few spaces so I could see it from my window.

The ride today went for 528 miles.

After I showered I took a short walk to a nearby Chilli's for a chicken pasta supper.  I called my son and wife and reported my whereabouts.  I also called my Uncle Boots who lives in West Chester, but no answer.  I guess he's going to get a break this tour.

Back at the room I watched tv and made notes for the ride to the coast.  I decided to loop around on 287 and pick up I-95 in Connecticut.  It will add more miles, but it still should be a short ride the next day.  
I went to sleep not looking forward to the tough urban riding ahead.