Sunday, 27 June 2010

NYC to Canadian Border, via Boston

On Friday and Saturday the task was to get a long way north of new York so that the ride down the New England coast could then begin in earnest. The journey north was a total of 627 miles and only a small proportion of this was done on the faster Interstate roads. These Interstates are generally excellent if you want to get somewhere quickly, but they are pretty boring, not very safe for motorcyclists and show you little about the areas that you are passing through. I intend to avoid them like the plague and use them only when absolutely necessary.

Getting out of New York was simple and I passed the Yankees baseball stadium as I headed north. All over the world you see the logo with an N and a Y laid over each other on baseball caps and it wasn’t until I pass the stadium that I realised this logo belonged to the New York Yankees. I had assumed that it simply signified New York, but you live and learn!

Leaving NYC I experienced something I didn’t like. I discovered that motorbikes don’t like bridges with gratings in the roadway. I am not sure but I think it was the Willis Avenue Bridge I crossed and I felt quite uncomfortable as I rode over the metal grate surface. I am going to watch out for these in future and take it a little slower....

Going through Connecticut, my route took in the Merritt Parkway – a good road with is wonderfully green and has sympathetically designed bridges that are remarkable for their beauty. They are just regular bridges that carry roads that cross over the Parkway and you see thousands of such bridges everywhere in the world, but these are different. Whoever designed them took great care in making them look simple and stunning. Most use natural looking materials and they blend in very well with the woodland surroundings they are in. No doubt there are many roads that go out of New York, but the Merritt Parkway is a good one to pick.

My friend Paul from the UK is joining me for part of the tour and he arrived in Boston two days ago. Paul previously spent a considerable amount of time working in Boston and so was keen to ride with me in New England to see some of the people and places he knows well. Hence I was headed today for Boston, to meet up with Paul.

The ride from NYC to Boston was 254 miles but as I mainly took my time and kept off the interstates, it took all day. A couple of times I deviated from my planned route and took minor roads, just to see what was there. I think I will do this each day where something looks interesting. Simply seeing the USA from main roads is not going to let me understand much about the real America. So, while my route is already carefully mapped out, I want some spontaneity of just tuning left or right to see what is there. I did this a few times on route to Boston and found myself riding through residential areas both affluent and poor – the contrast was quite remarkable and I enjoyed seeing both. I will write more about this in later postings, but the owners of one house I saw must have been from England as the entrance and driveway was covered in English flags – not doubt to show support for the England football team in the World Cup....





















Near to a town called Deep River in Connecticut I saw and stopped at Plattwood Park and took a couple of photos of a strikingly beautiful park....








































Whilst the goal for today’s riding was to get quite a long way quickly, I had seen on a map the Chester – Hadlyme ferry that crosses the Connecticut River. The first ferry crossing of the river here was made in 1769 and it seemed fitting that I should use it. I am glad that I did. It is very small and takes probably no more than about 15 cars at a time. The crossing takes just a few minutes using two 150hp engines. Here are a few pictures of the ferry and my bike (I really must give it a name!) on it.

























































I arrived in Boston to be greeted by David and Mellissa who are friends of Pauls and whose house I would be staying in tonight. They live in the suburbs of Boston in a nice house on the edge of a wonderful lake. Then we immediately left for dinner at more friends of Pauls – Carl and Barbara. We arrived to find them both not getting ready for dinner, but changing the tire of one of Carl's motorbikes! Cool. Greasy handshakes followed and a quick tour of their garage – full of bikes! Carl does most of the riding and Barbara has plans to get a Ural with a sidecar. I will put Barbara in contact with some of my fellow bloggers in case she needs any advice about the nuances of these strangely wonderful machines.













































Dinner was fantastic – great company and great food. We had lobster and steak, with Pimms to drink. I have never seen lobster cooked at home before, so both the watching and eating were terrific. Many thanks to Mellissa, David, Carl, Barbara and Paul for such a splendid evening.

























































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Paul and I left Boston early with a long way to go today, about 360 miles. Here we are about to depart....





















Almost straight away I saw a road sign that made me wonder and smile “CAUTION. REDUCED SALT AREA”. Silly me, I thought reducing salt levels was a good thing, but Paul later told me it was to prevent salt water run-off into streams and lakes.

We stopped for coffee and something to eat in Betsys Kitchen in North Hampton, which turned out to be quite eventful, as there was a gas leak in the kitchen and we had to evacuate the building. We fled the scene, but in case it did explode, I took a last photo of the building....




















We stopped at Seacoast Harley-Davidson on route 1. There was a ride out just finishing and we guessed 500 bikes were parked in the parking lot. Amazing! This must be the only H-D dealership that has a boat hanging from the ceiling....



























Paul has the same Garmin GPS / Sat Nav system as I do, although for some reason the two were giving considerably different routes to travel on, despite identical set-ups. Try as we might.....

As we were riding along, Paul had the radio on listening to the soccer. My deepest commiserations go to the USA team that were knocked out by Ghana – you did well in the World Cup and each time you play, your soccer team gets better. As I type this we are in a bar in St Stephens in Canada watching England vs Germany.

We stayed last night in a B&B called Greystone in Calais, which is right on the border with Canada. Very nice place which I am pleased to recommend.....

8 comments:

iansolley said...

its all coming together - (apart from our footie team).

Eve said...

Well it's officially begun hasn't it Gary! I'm really enjoying every minute of your adventure. Thank you for giving us blow by blow or should I say turn by turn events as you go. I've got my google map out each time I read your posts so I can search the places you see. This is really fun. Safe travels to you and Paul!

Axel said...

Great start, I feel great knowing to be able to follow these text and pictures from you for month to come, thank you. From what I see you build the luggage quite high on the Road King "with no name", did you use a 4 feet high sissy bar? Hope it remains stable, no wonder you wobble over bridges with gratings. Safe ride.

Canajun said...

Welcome to North America! And glad to see you at least made it a little ways into Canada. :)

I'm really looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip. Ride safe and have fun!

biker baby said...

Those metal grate bridges are even more fun when wet.

Maybe you can settle something for me. Last time I rode in NY State, I could swear they had a helmet law. I was told they don’t…is that true?

SonjaM said...

What a great start. Welcome to the so called New World. Can't wait to read more. Unfortunately all my travel plans are opposite to your route, otherwise I would have joined you for a leg of your trip.

Rickey Brown said...

enjoying keeping up with you. tell Barbara to check out www.sovietsteeds.com

Gary France said...

Ian – It all came apart for the football team – that was hard to take.

Eve – I am glad you are enjoying this. It is good that you are able to look at where we have been. It is difficult to find the time to write about evertything we see, so I am trying to cover the highlights each day.

Axel – No 4 foot high sissy bar – it just straps around the backrest and it seems stable, but I think I have overloaded it. I do take a lot of care to make sure it is fixed on well though! I really must think of a name....

Canajun – Thanks for your welcome! Wejust sneaked into Canada for a little while....

BB – From memory, everybody I saw riding a bike had a helmet on. I think helmets are required for all.

Sonja – I will write as much as possible for you to read. Congrats on the football by the way – your team played well.

Rickey – Thanks, I will do that.