Monday, June 10, 2013

Thank goodness for the GPS

Today was the kind of day when we usually would stay home. The weather forecast was for rain - heavy rain and potentially severe thunderstorms for our entire 420 mile route from Covington, VA in the Alleghany Highlands to Towanda, PA. Since we're on the road home from the Hatfield/McCoy country on the West Virginia/Kentucky border, we had no choice but to put on our raingear and hope for the best.

10 hours on the BMW in good weather is a long day. In heavy rain, it's a slog. It was raining so hard during the entire trip that the only pictures I took were when we stopped for gas or lunch and I was under cover.

We started the day on 220 north, twisting up and down the steep hillsides of the Alleghany Highlands in Virginia, and then skirted along sweeping turns on the ridges in eastern West Virginia. We found ourselves on scenic route 40 in western Maryland, off our planned course but a welcome find as it twisted and curved through the rugged and hilly landscape. Route 40 was originally a turnpike from Baltimore to Cumberland, MD, first built in the mid-1800's and paved around 1910. We periodically could see truck traffic on the interstate nearby, and I was really glad we had hills and twisties instead of tractor-trailers to contend with.

At that point, Mike trusted the GPS to get us to our destination and we turned off onto smaller side roads through farmland, winding our way steadily north and east. When we climbed to the top of a mountain the clouds and mist reached down to surround us, shrinking our visibility to barely 1/4 mile. Then as we wound our way down the mountain the clouds lifted and we could periodically gaze out over the valleys. We surprised several deer, including one mother and one of the smallest fawns we've ever seen. We stopped to let them cross the road, and watched the fawn bounce through the wheat field into the tree line.

Raingear and waterproof gloves kept me dry for the first 3 hours, and by the time we finished the ride my gloves were completely soaked, the inside of my helmet was wet, my shirt (under a motorcycle jacket and raingear) had wicked up water from the cuffs and the collar, and my jeans (under motorcycle pants and raingear) were completely wet.  The only waterproof gear that actually lived up to its name was the Twisted Throttle duffle; everything inside was completely dry although the outside was covered in mud and road grit.

Our hotel room looks like a laundry room with gear hanging from the lamps, tops of the doors, chair and on top of the air conditioning unit. The best we can hope for is dry rain gear and semi-damp motorcycle gear tomorrow - and the weather report is for more rain.

While we would never plan to ride on a rain-drenched day like today, it could have been worse. We rode through beautiful scenery on amazing roads,  talked with friendly people who couldn't believe we were on a motorcycle in today's weather at gas stations and a country diner, and criss-crossed four states:  Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. All without thunderstorms, lightning, or heavy traffic.

Traveling by motorcycle isn't always comfortable, but it always gives us memories and stories to share. Even if I the only photos I have are of grey skies and a soaked landscape.


  1. Been there. I hate riding on days like that, but sometimes there is no alternative.

    That feeling of water creeping into the boots and down the jacket is just no fun. Or when you can wring the water out of your gloves at the end of the day. Ick blah.

    I always remember to tip housekeeping really well when we have to dry wet gear in a hotel room with the heater cranked. They have to enter that muggy steamy room to clean after we leave.

    Hope everything dried out by this morning.

  2. The gloves were still soaking wet, but everything else was dry by the time we started out today. It's a good thing we each had two pairs of gloves with us.