Thursday, 15 July 2010

3000 miles, 70 Tractors, and 40 Snowmobiles....

Just 4 miles into today’s ride, I hit the 3000 mile mark for the tour so far. I cannot believe I have already done a fifth of the total miles. Wow, that has gone by really quickly!

In keeping with my scheme to stop at exactly every 1000 miles and take a photo of the road, here is my 3000 mile photo which was taken just west of Jeffersonville, in Vermont.





















Todays ride was really centred on Lake Champlain, in the north west part of Vermont. The landscape soon changed from seeing millions of trees to seeing great landscapes and the lake itself. It was mainly grey skies today, so the lake wasn’t at its best, but still very impressive anyway. As soon as my route took me close to the lake, I visited Sand Bar State Park. This consists of a length of lake edge, a strip of grass and a large car park. Not that I wanted to, but nobody was allowed to swim in the water due to the high levels of bacteria. So, I paid $3 for the privilege of parking in an empty car park for the 10 minutes I was there, which is not a problem as State Parks do cost money to run and maintain, so I don’t mind paying my share. I did wonder however who decided a lake edge, a strip of grass and a car park was worthy of “State Park” status. As I rode away, I had the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi in my mind... "They took all the trees, put 'em in a tree museum and charged the people a dollar and a half just to see 'em". Maybe I felt the same about the lake edge?

If you look carefully in the first of these two pictures of Sand Bar State Park, you might just see my bike parked in the vast empty car park....







































The ride north though the lake (there are a series of islands joined by causeways) was interesting as the lake appears on the left, then the right, then back on the left and so on. I was surprised that I didn’t see bigger houses on the islands – I thought they would be a magnet for the wealthy, but it didn’t appear to be the attraction I thought it might be. Maybe the bigger houses were away from the main road. Here are The leading Ladies next to the lake....




















Just before leaving Vermont, at the northern end of the lake is a strange old building. Not strange because of anything to do with the building itself, but with its location. It is called U.S. Fort Montgomery and here is a poor picture of it across the water.... it was a hazy day....




















This is what a sign about the fort said.... “Before you are the ruins of U.S Fort Montgomery. This massive fortification, built over a 30-year period starting in 1844, was constructed on the site of a much smaller fort, which was started in 1816. The first stronghold on this site came to be known as “Fort Blunder” because it was built on land discovered to be north of the United States – Canada border. It was abandoned before completion.” Oops, can you imagine finding this out after 30 years of construction? We have all done things that when we realised we goofed-up then felt really bad, but how did the person feel when got this wrong!!! That must have been one heck of an “Oh-shit” moment!

This is the bridge that carries one back from Vermont into New York State at Rouses Point....




















As soon as you cross the bridge you are faced with a simple decision....























Had Mrs F been with me, we would have turned right as I would have taken her to Montreal to catch a plane. Being on my own, I turned left.

As I went from Vermont back into NY State and the difference was noticeable straight away – that part of NY is much more affluent than its neighbouring part of Vermont. The house are bigger and the whole feel of the place is more up-beat.

After travelling north for some way, it was now turn to head south along the western shore of Lake Champlain. There are many farms here – something I haven’t seen a lot of on my tour so far. I passed one structure that I didn’t have a clue what it was, so I turned around and went and asked. I was greeted by a guy about 6 foot tall with a long grey beard, who told me his nickname was ZZ Top! He said he rode a Harley and he explained that his long beard was fun on the bike, as it often parted in the wind and got pushed back into his wife’s face when she was on the back of his bike. She had been known to tie his beard in a knot behind his head to keep it out of her eyes. I wish I had taken a picture of him.

ZZ Top told me the structure was a plant for storing and mixing different types of grain and corn, to be chopped and blended to feed to the one million chickens that lay on the land behind the plant. One million chickens!!! It was an egg farm I had stopped at and I now wish I had asked to be shown around, but my silly British reserve got in the way. Note to self – ask, or you shall not find! Here is a picture of the plant....



























Next I saw one of those sights you don’t quite believe as you take in what you are looking at.... is that really a line of tractors stretched out across the field.....




















I of course had to go back and find out what this was all about, so I rode my bike into the farm and found a guy cleaning out a barn. His name was Tony Trombly, the latest in a line of Trombly’s to run the farm since 1916, appropriately called “John Deere Hill Dairy Farm”. They were his tractors and they were all made by John Deere. Wait for it.... he had 70 of them! In addition, he has 40 John Deere snowmobiles (“John Deere made 40 different models, so it took a long time to collect them all”). Here is Tony standing next to a 1938 model that he had recently taken to a tractor show....




















It was a strange but enjoyable sight seeing all the tractors, so I took a walk along the line of all 70 and took some photos....

A 1957 model. A very good year....




















This one was very old – note the wheels....




















The long line looking back up to the farm buildings....



























I loved this 1935 model....




















Seen better days....




















A very early model in good condition....




















The biggest tractor at the end of the line. Note the double wheels, and bizarrely, a snowmobile on the roof....




















It was all very strange, but great fun. I didn’t ask where the 40 snowmobiles were!

I stopped at the H-D dealer in Plattsburgh to get some goodies for giving the Leading Ladies a wash, and I saw this chopper with a shovelhead engine. Nice....




















I checked in at a really nice (and at $45, a very cheap) motel very near to Ausable Chasm, to find a few bass boats already there. There is a large (150 boat) fishing competition on the lake tomorrow, so I took a look at the boats and spoke to the fishermen, some of who do bass fishing full time and make enough money at it to be professional fishermen. Nice work if you can get it....




















A 250 HP outboard motor....



























I decided to check into a motel very early today, so that I could give The Leading Ladies a wash. They were much happier afterwards.

I had dinner at Dana’s Rusty Anchor which is right on the lake. Here is the view from the restaurant....




















The server, a young Harley-owning guy at college wanted to know all about the tour, my bike......etc. He almost sat down with me to hear more!

Finally, just for Bobscoot, because I know he likes his food, I had a delicious Lobster and Crab Baked Pie and Strawberry Sponge cake.... Here is the cake....




















A great day!

8 comments:

Geoff James said...

Gary, I can't begin to tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog! Long may the wide range of interesting experiences continue. The fort was an absolute hoot!

bobskoot said...

Gary:

mmmmm, strawberry sponge cake. wished i had a piece right now. I can nearly taste the whipped cream.

A few years ago we went to Newfoundland to have some lobsters, but we left empty handed. Not a lobster to be found but we did manage to have a steak and lobster recently.

I envy you and the relaxed way you can meander around the country stopping at every sight and having time to ask questions. Unlike us who have limited vacation time . It would be a good feeling to have the time to explore and make the simple decision to turn either left or right. Lucky thing you didn't have 3 choices, I think the stress would have been too much

ride safe
bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Eve said...

This was a great day Gary! Ahhh good ol NY state! Lots and lots of farms you'll see. Some older than dirt! I love the John Deere farm! I can't believe the tractors and the snowmobiles...I don't think I knew JD made them!! Wow I didn't realize how close you are to getting to my neck of the woods! You should be seeing a lot of bikes when you get near the Tupper Lake area...if it's on the weekend...my friend Debby rides out there every summer and she told me how her arm got tired from waving so long!! She has a beautiful farm in a log cabin on Bonney Road in Watertown, so if you want to stop and talk to some fun people...with Harleys...there you go! hahaha.
Ride safe!

Charlie Barney said...

Gary - A most interesting and well-organized blog. You can be sure I will follow your progress. I was initially drawn to it by your reference to Fort Montgomery at Rouses Point, NY. I called this village home for the first 25 years of my life. You will soon be heading to the region of New York where I currently reside -Buffalo. Obviously, you have done your research, but in a nutshell, Buffalo is a shadow of its former self. As the western terminus of the Erie Canal it became a pathway that opened up our mid-western states to the wonders of the new 20th century. It also became a major railway hub and home of the steel-making industry. Sadly, its fortunes have been reversed and now is a part of the U.S. often refered to as the "rust belt". It remains a place of great historical significance, though. I brought your blog to the attention of a friend and biker who lives in California. Prior to and now in his retirement, he spent/spends a lot of time on the road in the far west and may possibly send along some suggestions to you of places best seen by motorcycle. He is quite knowledgable. Welcome to the U.S.A. Have a safe trip and a great summer and fall. You will find us interested, friendly, and eager to help you along. I trust you will acquire some life-long memories and friends.
Regards.

682202 said...

Gary Love the John Deere Tractors. My grandfather always had a couple of John Deere's around his farm, Mostly "B" models, similar to the one in the 4th photo. It's to bad you didn't get to take a spin on one, Most of those pictured are 2 cylinders and they make the most wondrous sound especially when letting out the Hand clutch.

Enjoying your travels.
GAW

David said...

Gary, Strangely enough, the beach at Sand Bar State Park is actually pretty pleasant in trailer park sort of way. Enjoy the ride. I'm enjoying the blog.

Bob Duffy said...

Gary I was just in Rouses Point, saw the same tractors, I am now back in California where I live. I am close to Santa Cruz and a HD rider,
hope to meet up with you when get a little closer. Bob Duffy GTMC,Hollister Ca.

Gary France said...

Geoff – I am really pleased that you are enjoying the blog – it makes it all worthwhile when somebody says something like that! I bet the guy that did the surveying to locate the fort never lived it down!

Bob – I know I am very lucky to be able to do this ride the way I am. Sometimes I just deviate from my planned route because I see something I would like to know more about – maybe a view, a building or even a sign pointing me towards an intriguing location. I am also getting lots of practice about turning around and going back to look at something I passed. 3 choices would have been too much stress. That reminded me of the end of the movie “Castaway” when the FedEx employee played by Tom Hanks had to decide which road to take.

Eve – The tractors were good to see and I didn’t know JD made snowmobiles either. I came through the Tupper Lake area today and there were quite a few bikes around – mainly Harleys, but some sports bikes as well. I went through Watertown earlier today, but I had forgotten about you saying your friend lived there.

Charlie – Thanks for the compliments! You will be pleased to know that I like Rouses Point and the area around it. I have been to Buffalo before but that was about 20 years ago. I hadn’t heard of the rust belt before, but I can picture it and what it means. I have seen some areas already that could be in this category, but these are mainly small whereas Buffalo is a much bigger place. I enjoy and welcome hearing about places that I might go see. I have altered my route a couple of times to take into account places that have been suggested to me.

Gordon – I don’t know how many of the tractors were actually capable of running, but it would have been good for this city boy to drive one. I can’t ever actually recall driving a tractor!

David – that made me laugh! Glad you are enjoying the blog.

Bob – You were a long way from home as well then! What a co-incidence that you saw them just recently as well – it is truly a small world sometimes. Great about meeting up!