Sunapee

Had a burial in the family yesterday. Went to the dentist this morning. That’s right, time for motorcycle therapy.

A nice thing about even a low-end BMW is it’s ability to provide reliable transportation. The F650 is just sitting there waiting for me to get on it and go. To Sunapee, NH.Route to Sunapee

Headed south on 11 past Mount Major, one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world. Through scenic Alton Bay where the cruise ship Mount Washington stops in the summer on her way around Lake Winnipesaukee.

dinner-restaurants-alton-bay-nhThat’s not the Mount Washington, by the way. I’m guessing a billionaire in a vintage Chris Craft on an early-season run down from Wolfeboro.

While heading south on route 28 to 202, I noticed a BobCat dealer. When I was a kid there was one backhoe in town. That was it. Plus an old cable driven shovel at Georgetown Sand and Gravel. Now we have become a nation of diggers. With hydraulic excavators we can even dig in the winter. We dig so much that you have to notify DigSafe whenever you want to dig, even on your own property. They send out the relevant utilities to mark where their stuff is located underground, so you won’t hit it. My neighbor had a digger. I moved and my new neighbor also has a digger. I have rented a digger myself. And then hired a bigger digger. And that digger guy brought in an even bigger digger. I’m not making this up. This is New Hampshire and the rock you need to move is often the size of a Volkswagen.

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I gassed up with 93 octane at the Sunoco in Contoocook after circling through the Mobil station which, for some reason, had only regular and diesel. Rode through Warren and made a wrong turn in a place called Guild, NH. I think the only thing in Guild is this mini post office and a place to get your hair cut. That’s it. The handicap access is a major (majorly bad, but to code) architectural element.

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The landscape west of Concord is extremely pleasant to ride through. I enjoyed it all the way to Lake Sunapee.

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I’m sitting on the side of the boat ramp at Sunapee Harbor where you can launch and retrieve your trailered lake craft. Only a few people around on a weekday this time of year, just before the season gets underway. This is a pleasant spot to be.

Sunapee means “Wild Goose Waters” and some local people have descended from the native Penacooks who “hunted geese in the autumn and fished for speckled trout using nets, weirs and spears.”

About 150 years ago the railroad reached the lake and brought a lot of new visitors. Pre-automobile era. Steamboats were used to ferry the tourists to resorts and vacation homes. There are still three lighthouses on the lake.

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Met up with family in New London for dinner and a lacrosse game. It’s a bit of serendipity that I’m related to the people who dominate girl’s lacrosse in this part of the world. 18-1 this time.

Headed for home around 8 PM. Still plenty of light but the black flies are out this time of year, especially in the evening.

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I recommend a full face helmet. The windshield and fairing deflect the bugs off the rest of my body. The helmet takes care of the air coming over the top of the windshield.

It’s clear I am much better off on a motorcycle than out working in my yard.

 

Hikin’ n Bikin’

When do you and your wife take a vacation in separate vehicles? I’m talking about the same destination, not separate vacations. She drove her Infiniti G37X and I rode the BMW F650.

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We wanted to do some hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but stay in motels at night, so we needed road access to the trail that would yield hiking distances we could manage in a day. One of the few places to do just that is in Vermont, beginning where the trail emerges from the Green Mountain National Forest in East Wallingford.

We headed over there on a nice sunny day last week. Rutland/Wallingford is due west of Lake Winnipesaukee and we traveled US Route 11 and US Route 4 all the way. Route 4 coincides with Interstate 89 for about 20 miles and the F650 tooled along nicely at 65-75 mph with little effort. Some crosswind near the Connecticut River reduced the speed there to a more comfortable 65.

We Hotwired ourselves into the Holiday Inn in south Rutland for about $70 and spent the next day in the car scouting our options. It was raining and even snowed a little that night. The bike sat with the cover on it.

The following days were beautiful. Deciding to hike north to south, we dropped the bike off at the trailhead on Route 103 near Clarendon and then drove north to the crossing on Keiffer Road, where we got out our day packs and hiking poles and headed south on foot.

Late morning, we met a recent college graduate through hiker, trail-named HandMade, who had left his Virginia home at the end of February heading north on the AT. He had made his own pack and hiking poles. He wore 17-inch high mud-friendly Muck Boots. He was doing about 20 miles a day average, staying in shelters. We liked him a lot.

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The Appalachian Trail and the Vermont Long Trail coincide from the Massachusetts border until you get north of Killington, where the AT heads east towards Hanover, NH, and the Long Trail continues north to the Canadian border.

It was a great day hike for us, even though we had to drop down through a steep rocky ravine near the end, accompanied by seven hawks hunting overhead. Observe the owner of the fast G37X happy now just to find the next meager foothold.

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I took the F650 up to the Keiffer Road crossing and retrieved the car and then we picked up the bike on the way back to the motel. Slick enough.

Did the next section the following day, starting at the same 103 Clarendon crossing, and ending up at the trailhead in East Wallingford. This suspension footbridge over Clarendon Gorge was built by the family and friends of Bob Brugmann who “was lost here while hiking the trail he loved”.

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Hiking north-south, we met several interesting people making their way north, including a guy from New Jersey whose wife was shadowing him in her car, picking him up at the end of each day at the next trailhead. He had only a vague notion of what she was doing all day while he was hiking, maybe shopping.

A young couple were traveling from Augusta, Maine to Mississippi via Georgia.

Two women were just finishing an overnight getaway on the trail.

We moved north and east of Killington and day-hiked on the AT north of Woodstock, Vermont. Woodstock stands out from the other small Vermont towns because it has a lot of character derived from the days when the Rockefeller family was active there. The Rockefeller Billins Farm is a national historic site now. Beautiful upscale rural area.

On our sixth day, we explored the Quechee Gorge a bit and then headed home. Our perfect weather was about to turn cold and rainy.

Stopped at Five Guys in West Lebanon, NH for a proper hiker’s lunch of hamburgers and fries and then cruised back down 89. The F650 was very satisfying and solid on Interstate 89, the big single purring happily along at 4500-5000 rpm. Torque peaks at 5000 rpm and the engine is very smooth there at 75 mph in 5th gear.

Back home:

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Yes, that’s right, it’s a house. A minimalist stack of three rooms overlooking treetops and a stream. That smaller underground pipe on the left is where the Getting On blog connects to the internet.

The woods were wonderful but it was also great to walk in the door and be home.