Tuesday December 12, 2006 off to Maryland

Where I drove


 A little too coldÖthat was todayís phrase of the day. For those that donít ride, I donít know how to compare it. For those who do ride, it looked like it was going to be warm and sunny. Not quite warm enough. I ventured off on one of my rural country trips anyway. I wanted to make it to Elk Neck State Park in Maryland. It sits right on the Chesapeake Bay, there is a beach, a lighthouse and as I found out along the way some great scenery.

I should have realized it was going to be one of those days from the start. Some condensation must have built up in the fuel tank as I was having all kinds of problems getting the Sportster moving. I actually pulled over to use reserve fuel that helped tremendously. I stopped to get gas and that was a nightmare in itself. I am not getting into that. The bike ran considerably better with gas in the tank, imagine that.

I went down PA-724 past the Coventry Mall and out to PA-345. I figured since this could be the last big ride of the season I was going to get the most scenery out of it and I have my handlebar bag attached which means I have my camera. French Creek State Park had been recommended to me by one of the guys at work. It was a great call on his part. (Thanks Jimmy T) Nice hills, wooded, and very few weasels in cars. So I could take my time and enjoy the ride. I stopped and took a couple of pictures of the bike in the park. Sun was still coming up so it was also a chance to defrost myself. The 40MPH wind (Guessing my average speed) with the air temperature being something between 35 and 40 you can do the wind chill math. Defrosting myself will be a big part of todayís ride, but I am determined to make it into Maryland today.

I made my usual way through Elverson and Morgantown along PA-23. For those of you who are fans of the Sonic Restaurant chain, the foundation appears to be complete and they are framing some walls. Still looks like it will be a while though.

Getting south on PA-10 was rather uneventful. (As we like it!) I was stuck behind a couple of big slow trucks which is the only downfall to taking this route, but it reduces the number of cars. I did get stuck briefly behind a huge grade-all machine. PA-10 is probably one of the dirtiest roads to ride between the farm equipment and the horse manure on the road. So you need to be extra careful and watch for the slick spots. Horse shit can be as slippery as ice.

Oxford is a quaint little town which is nothing like I had expected. It reminded me of the town from Back to the Future. With its older buildings a small town square type of park it seemed nice. Best of all, most traffic misses out on Oxford because of the US-1 bypass passing to the north of the borough limits. Iím sure this town must look unique at night in the holiday season.

I stopped at the Herrís Factory which is in Nottingham, PA on PA-272 between PA-10 and US-1. Not much to see at 8:30 in the morning. Smelled awesome though, they were making popcorn and I am not sure what kind of chips, but it may have been sour cream and onions. I know itís the factory but it was weird to sit in the parking lot and smell the different flavors. I only stayed there a couple minutes thinking they would come out and chase me away thinking I was from another chip company.

Make my way back to PA-272 south to get into Maryland. I thought it would be warmer by now, I have to go to the little boyís room but I was determined to make it into another state.  I stopped at the welcome to Maryland sign to get some pictures of the bike.

I knew I was getting close to my goal of the state park, but I was also getting colder. So I stopped at a gas station on MD-272 just south of MD-273 in Calvert,Maryland. Grabbed a hot chocolate and chatted with the two employees at the gas station even after seeing the no public restroom sign on the door Ė gotta love these new gas station owners. After finding out I had another 20 miles to get to the park, I decided to abandon this one for the day. It was time to head back north.

I am not a big fan of out and back. I like to vary my return trip to some degree to do more of a loop. Today this was going to be difficult. Remember today is one of those days. I remembered a shortcut (so I thought) but that road was closed so I went back to my original route and made my way back to Morgantown.

Once in Morgantown I figured I would refuel, I didnít want to deal with the same issues I had before. The bike is due to go in for its 1000 mile check and I wanted to wait until I put the bike in for winter storage. I still havenít gotten to pee yet. So I figure I would stop at the Burger King, and grab a soda and fries after I shake the leaf. This would possibly be my biggest mistake. Not the potty stop, but I had a soda. All that did was chill my insides and I didnít realize it until I committed to go north on I-176. Here I am going north on an interstate roadway doing anywhere from 55 to 65 MPH and I am shivering out of my mind. There is nowhere to pull over, I know my wife is almost at a job interview and I am supposed to be available to testify in court by 11:30am. I persevered and made it to PA-724 and through Birdsboro and back to 422 and home.

I got back to the house about 11:20am. Thankfully I didnít need to testify today as the hearing was continued. Its almost 7pm and I donít believe I have fully defrosted yet. No more long trips when it is cold. I canít wait for summer. Yes I said that!