September 2019 Head Of The Dragon Road Trip
As you can see on the map, the plan was fairly straight forward and simple. We’d meet at the Easton Diner in Easton, MD and have a nice breakfast then be underway. We’d have a nice scenic ride once we cleared the bridge and Annapolis and Washington D.C. and head down RT 66 to RT 15 which will become RT 29 and we’d ride on down this side of the Shenandoah National Park. Then we’d pick up RT 64 and ride that through the gap between Skyline Drive and The Blue Ridge Parkway with a possible stop in Waynesboro, VA until we picked up RT 81/Rt 64 outside of Staunton, Va.
Then we’d ride fast on 81 for about an hour or so until good old RT 64 split off and we’d take that for a few hours until we found RD 121 and then we’d just stay on it the rest of the way and enjoy the twisty turning secondary road.
Like I said, after D.C. increasingly nice and scenic as we went until we arrived at The Head Of The Dragon.
There always seems to be a “but” in such a story, doesn’t there? And of course this time there is. The weather in Delaware when I left for Easton was the same as it had been for a week or so. Clear blue sky and moderate temperatures. At 7 am when I did leave for Easton it was in the low 60’s. The bike clicked to life as it always does…key on and just a quick, momentary stab at the starter button and it’s running. You barely even hear what sounds like 1 revolution of the starter. The bike has never really cranked over – ever. The starter button is like a light switch. You touch it and the bike is on. But I digress. Let us just save this starter nonsense for later.
So, I arrive in Easton and the skies have clouded over with a thick grey blanket and the humidity is on the rise. Nonetheless we enjoy a nice breakfast and go over the loosely laid itinerary. We don’t get too heavy into the details in order to avoid the timetable syndrome. We’d just go and stop when we needed gas or food or bathrooms and hopefully all at the same place to have as few stops as possible and as quickly as possible. By the time we left Easton about 9:30 it looked and felt like rain was on the way.
The ride over the bridge was uneventful and even the D.C loop (I 495) barely had any traffic so we made good time. We were a couple hours into the trip and just into VA when we made our first stop. Gas, water, bathroom and go right? Yeah…BUT…!
There was a nicely paved parking lot and we selected a spot out of the way and dismounted…BUT…I stepped on something the size of a rock as I dismounted and my boot slipped and skidded a moment and almost caused me to fall down. I looked down and it was a Buzz Lightyear toy. As I picked it up I said to myself “Into Infinity And Beyond!” as I tossed him in the storage where I keep my kickstand prop for soft ground. Little did I know he was trying to warn me.
It was 12:05 when we pulled in, the parking lot and gas pumps were very busy and a large local construction crew was getting their lunch and I soon discovered a high school excursion with a couple bus loads of kids had stopped by too. The outside was like Grand Central Station with all the people and bunches of cars and trucks coming and going in the mix.
The inside was actually worse. The kids had divided up into their usual gaggles and stationed themselves strategically at each isle and pathway. Furthermore, each gaggle was liquid in form thus making it impossible to plot a course and navigate over, around, under or through without many, many excuse me’s and gentle taps on the shoulders of certain kids so completely engrossed in whatever they were talking about they had lost nearly all connection with the idea of where they were and why.
For their part, the construction workers basically formed a perimeter around the outside walls, having already placed orders for food and stood where the drink coolers are and just gawked openly at the young peoples in their T Shirts and shorts. They were there for food, but their eyes were hungrier. It was creepy.
The cashiers did their level best to work in unexpected disappearances from the registers whenever the lines began to move faster than a slow shuffle. The only people I could actually see working steadily to meet demand were those poor souls trapped in the deli area. They were making and hustling sandwiches and fried chicken and other alleged edibles just as fast as they could and it was not fast enough.
I had made it through the gaggles, past the gauntlet of construction workers and into the hallway where the bathrooms were. Amazingly, the bathroom was empty, BUT….after I washed my hands the hand dryer blower thingy refused to work no matter how many times or speeds or which motions I passed my hands near the sensor. It looked like I was doing a very poorly choreographed new version of The Macarena. I know because one of the construction guys walked in and said “Hey Macarena!” after stopping and observing my efforts.
So I got my bottle of water and stood in the line until it was my turn to pay and I could get out of there. I downed about half the bottle, put it in the cup holder, suited up and we hit the road and soon everything was fine and back on track.
We were enjoying the ride for a couple hours more …BUT…I noticed my GPS was not directing me toward Waynesboro but to stay on 29 and not get on RT 64! I figured there was a traffic problem and we were being rerouted. This new path took us a couple hours out of the way to Lynchburg, VA where we picked up 460 and began heading west in earnest. So that’s ok. It was nice scenery and and we had made good time so I just figured we’d stop for the night sooner and finish the ride tomorrow morning. Then it began raining on us. Then it was raining harder. Then it was such a downpour the traffic slowed down and many had activated their flashers. So we were soaking wet and soon decided to look for a room and spend the night. Besides it was coming on 5 pm by then. We should have been in Welch by then BUT this detour really changed things up.
BUT….we soon discovered there was the Three Day Music festival in Lewisburg and everything was booked for like a hundred miles radius! So we decided to just ride on into the night and continue on the path before us and stop at every exit with a lodging sign until we found a roon. And we did so and got repeatedly turned down until we made it to Princeton, about 70 some miles and several stops later.
There we found a place with room, BUT…it was a single room and we had to share. at least it had separate beds. We were dog tired and hungry. It was a little after 9 pm by now and there was a Hardee’s across the way. We put our stuff in the room and walked over to the Hardee’s in Princeton where we had – by far – the absolute worst hamburgers ever. I ate mine but my friend could not eat his.
We walked back and went to the room and collapsed.
Tune in tomorrow for part two of this adventure!