Lane's USA 2009 Motorcycle Tour
Update 06

Tuesday 5/12/2009
Day 20

This day was planned as 202 miles from Morehead City to Virginia Beach (just east of Norfolk), but the first 60 miles included two ferry rides and the wait for each, so the last 140 miles didn't start until 1:30 pm -- which may seem easy, but with two-lane roads, and towns, average speed is reduced. That said, the first half of the day was very relaxing!

From Bob & Barb's house in Morehead City to the Ocracoke Ferry terminal at Cedar Island was 45 easy, traffic-free miles. I stopped along the way to buy some fruit and Gatorade for the day at this store, one of hundreds in the South. I kid you not.

With time to spare I stopped at the first open vista of Core Sound, a very shallow body of water north and east of Beaufort, NC. (That's "BOE fort", not "BYEW fert". The latter is in SC. Mispronounce it in either place and you'll be corrected.)

Along the way I continued to be intrigued by these tight little one-lane access roads (driveways) to private property carved out of the forest.

 I arrived at 9:30 am for a 10:15 ferry so I had time to snap a couple pics. Here's the beach on the north shore of Cedar Island, which is at the south end of Pamlico Sound. Those stakes out there (right side of photo) are in about two feet of water. I file away little facts like these in case I come back to cruise these waters again some day.

And finally the ferry, seen here discharging its load from Ocracoke City, which is on the south end of Ocracoke Island, a barrier island separating Pamilico Sound from the Atlantic.

Now it's time to load. I get to go first . . .

 . . . because I get to park right at the butt end of the pilothouse (where no car would fit) so everyone else can fence me in and try to hit me in the process!

In the end it looked like this.

Everyone parked carefully, my bike survived, and we're off!

2.5 hours later we got to Ocracoke, a lovely, quaint little resort town of which pictures seemed unnecessary, I drove north 14 miles to the other end of the island and the Hatteras ferry terminal (short 30 minute ride), drove through the town of Hatteras (a bit bigger and less quaint), and headed up the rest of the Outer Banks. Being now in something of a hurry, I took fewer pictures than I might have otherwise, skipping even Cape Hatteras and its famous lighthouse. Go to Google Earth, there 's a zillion pictures of it there.

Driving these barrier islands is not as scenic as you might think, and here's why. From east to west, there's the ocean, the beach, a line of dunes, the road, a mile or two of salt marsh, and the Sound. Of these, all you can see from the road are the dunes and the marsh. Besides, this is a main thoroughfare and cars -- and trucks! -- go about 70 mph, so you sure as heck don't stop unless there's a turnout! Everything else is sand, so shoulder avoidance was important.

There are a few turnouts, so I took one near a break in the sand drift fence.

The bike is actually on broken pavement -- covered with drifted sand. Gotta be careful here. I climbed up the dune . . .

 . . . and found a beach that looks just about like every other beach from northern Florida to northern Delaware (where I'm writing this).


OK, I know in the lower right corner it looks a little like there's a couple in a rapt embrace -- which would not be unusual in these parts -- but it's not. It's a driftwood stump with a board laying up against it.

Looking back the other way, you can see what I mean about the road not being very scenic. Just a whole lotta nuthin'.

Wednesday 5/13/2009
Day 21

This was my last riding day before Commencement Weekend for my daughter at St. John's College in Annapolis, MD and I was very keen to cover the 222 miles quickly, so I stopped only to photograph the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. This monument to the dominance of American mechanical engineering traverses the entire mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, which is 17 miles across, though not terribly deep. It is causeway (bridge) all the way except for two openings that have been left so ships of any height can pass, and in those areas the road narrows to two lanes (one each way) and goes under water. Here's the first such gap.

Here's the second, in the distance.

I'll refer you to Google for other photos, taken by people in cars who had a free hand for the camera, unlike myself.

This brings me to "The Weekend" -- I think possibly the most satisfying, gratifying weekend of my life. In a nutshell: Thursday Lynn flew in from LA. Friday in celebration of Wind Song's 30th birthday we sailed her with her wonderful new owners, Cameron and Michelle MacTavish of Oxford, MD and had a fantastic picnic, provided by them, on the lawn next to Wind Song's berth, with a bunch of Oxford folks who've known the boat since she was built (in Oxford, right next to her current berth). Sunday we viewed the Commencement of our elder daughter Roxanne from St. John's College in Annapolis, helped her and her fiancée Jason transport their few possessions to a rental house in the heart of old colonial-era downtown waterfront Annapolis, and helped shop for, cook, and consume a minestrone soup dinner as the first "housewarming meal" in the house. Then Monday, as Lynn flew home, my childhood friend Chuck Kent, who lives in Alexandria, VA, came to Annapolis and took me sailing on an ultralight J/105 racing sailboat (34 feet long), just the two of us. When we were adolescents our parents owned a sailboat together. All of these activities were, in one way or another, both completions and beginnings, and these moments  mark and acknowledge commitments that have lived in our hearts for years, even decades. It is rare to have so many, so rapidly, in a single weekend.

When queried by our younger daughter Tania, who is in Madrid, Spain this year, Lynn summed it up pretty well:

"I arrived Friday, and we enjoyed the evening with Larry [with whom we were staying], including the live translation of your Gaucho paper [a literary research paper she wrote, in Spanish]. Friday morning, a little the worse for wine the night before, we went to the market to buy brunch makings - croissants, bagels, butter, cream cheese, marmalade, coffee cake, ingredients for Lila's cheesy mexican egg casserole, spinach salad with dried blueberries, cranberries, feta and celery, strawberries, OJ, club soda and champagne. Got a pink gerbera daisy plant for the table, and plates and napkins with multi-colored gerbera daisies on them.

"Took the groceries home and then met Roxanne and Jason on campus and ferried some stuff over to their new home (very cute period house. Rather worn from student tenants, but with great potential for a real home).

"Then off to Oxford to meet Cameron and Michelle MacTavish and Wind Song. Wind Song couldn't be in better hands. Cameron and Michelle (an architect and artist respectively) are young, talented, energetic and loving - and they love
Wind Song! We had a lovely sail and when we returned to the dock, Michelle (who had stayed behind) had set up a beautiful picnic in a grassy lot adjoining the marina right next to Wind Song. She had decorated picnic tables with tablecloths, cloth napkins, fresh flowers and fabulous food with exquisite presentation. We had shrimp, salmon with capers and dill, spinach salad, fruit salad, homemade cookies and brownies, beer, wine and perrier. It was a real class act! After the festivities, we drove over to see their home in Oxford (they also have a home in Philadelphia). Absolutely conscious, artistic, and comfortable - just like them. It was a major and joyful completion for all of us.

"Then on Saturday morning I got up early and quickly tidied the Garges home before the guests arrived. I forgot to take a picture! They have some beautiful cut glass serving dishes, so the table looked pretty classy! Lane went to pick up Jason and Roxanne while I did the preparations. We had a smaller turnout than expected - Cecilia [college friend of Roxanne's -- the brunch was for Roxanne's friends and their parents] had to move out of her dorm, and Miranda was relying on her for a ride (or vice versa). So we had Anna and her sister and parents, and Chuck and Mary Kent. We had lovely weather, and a very nice event. Then I cleaned up and took a short nap while Lane took Roxanne and Jason back to campus. Then Lane took a short nap while I finished the dishes. Then back to campus for a reception after which we took R and J to Joss for sushi. Then a trip to BWI to pick up Allison (Roxanne's friend from the Exy [Exy Johnson, a wood square-rigged sail training vessel in LA] who is joining the trip to Spain [Roxanne's about to head off to Spain to walk the El Camino de Santiago pilgrim's trail to El Cathedral de Santiago]). Big snafu with luggage. Dad and I waited for two hours in the rain until they finally gave up and filed a lost luggage report. Then back to campus for a Waltz Party! Those Johnnies are a motley crew, but boy you've got to give them points for thumos! I don't think I've ever seen such an enthusiastic, wholehearted and sweaty dance floor! Didn't stay long - it was now midnight and it takes 40 minutes to get to Larry's place!

"Sunday - slept in 'til 7 and then to campus for Commencement - held indoors because of rain (which actually was a boon - more intimate, easier to see and hear, and no sunburn!). A thoroughly St. John's kind of affair, complete with a Commencement Address based in Homer's Odyssey [a note: the St Johns curriculum is the Great Books. As the Commencement Speaker pointed out, all these authors are DEAD -- and that, oh by the way, Odysseus had to visit some dead folks -- the Shades -- before he had learned enough to come home]. A champagne reception followed in the gym - a wonderful old building with a hanging indoor track circling the perimeter one story up. We dropped Jason at their new home, and then took Roxanne and Allison to the supermarket to buy ingredients for minestrone and some pantry basics. Back to the house where I chopped veggies and made soup, and sipped red wine while the kitchen got unpacked around me. Lovely cooking and eating together - you could actually feel the house warming. When we got back to the house, Larry was back (he had left Friday morning for some family events in New Jersey), so we chatted for a bit and then I made him a spinach and cheese omelette for dinner.

"Today [Monday] we got up, I packed, we had a bite to eat, and then I followed Lane in to Annapolis. Lane spent the day sailing with Chuck Kent. I did a little shopping in downtown - bought R and J a Brian Andreas print as a house warming gift (you'll have to ask her for the quote - it was very sweet - about love and cooking and appreciation). Then I used the car to carry some newly found cast-offs (Jason is working dorm cleanup) including a large TV! Finally I did some errands with Roxanne - bought some cleaning supplies, place mats and napkins, etc. And then off to the airport."

Here are a few photos

Friday 5/15/2009
Day 23

This is going to be family-intensive here, so be warned.

Jason, Roxanne, and Lynn.  Lotta smiling going on.

New Wind Song owners Cameron and Michelle. Lotta smiling here too.

Cameron, Jason, Lynn, me, and Roxanne preparing to get Wind Song underway.

One happy new skipper, one happy former skipper. You know, I think smiling was the order of the day . . . and of the weekend!
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Heading out Town Creek in Oxford. Roxanne and Cameron getting lines ready for sail hoisting.
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Roxanne and Cameron attaching the main halyard.

Cameron and Jason hoisting the main

Back ashore later, party time! Cameron, help me out with names here! From left:
Roxanne, Jason, (?), Johnson Fortenbaugh, Cameron, Michelle, Larry & Dorette Murray.
Johnson was one of the teenagers Don Loweree hired to help build Wind Song.
He's now a yacht broker in Chestertown, MD (Eastern Shore) and handled the Wind Song purchase for the MacTavishes.
Larry and Dorette were sitting in lawn chairs in their backyard on Town Creek in 2005 when we (the Darntons) took our "victory lap" down the creek and back after our return from the Bahamas. At the time Larry commented to Dorette, "Hey look. Wind Song's back." Like it hadn't been a decade.

Enter Lynn and the Thielers, Ed and (?) at the far table with Roxanne and Jason.

On the lawn, Wind Song in the background. This entire "marina" consists of this lawn plus six or eight boats. Very laid back.


Picnic overview

Wind Song


Johnson & Wendy Fortenbaugh, Larry & Dorette Murray.

Party group shot, all but me.


The MacTavishes and Darntons on Wind Song.


Hey, what's this boat doing in here?
I'll tell you. A boat of this type will be my next cruising boat for the Bahamas.
Island Packet 31. There happened to be one sitting about four boats away from Wind Song.
Coincidence? I think not . . .


Saturday 5/16/2009
Day 24

OK, I couldn't resist. Silly name for a road.

At the pre-Commencement SJC reception for grads and parents. More smiles!

Walking toward Roxanne's and Jason's new digs, Saturday evening traffic on State Circle, Annapolis.

Ditto Main St. No time to be driving in Annapolis!

The SJC "Waltz Party" -- and every other kind of dance!

Roxanne and Jason cut a rug . . . I mean plank.

Oh boy, an actual waltz!

Dripping sweat after several energetic dances.
 (I'm sorry. Women don't sweat. They "glow".)

Sunday 5/17/2009
Day 25

OK, this is to prove Roxanne really, really graduated. From St John's College.
Which has been her dream for six years.

The stage.

On stage, receiving her "hood" (i.e. getting "hooded").
Hey, I know it's fuzzy. You try shooting hand-held at 1/8th of a second from the utter back row of the auditorium!

Receiving The Sheepskin while another grad gets hooded.

Walking off with The Sheepskin.

Three very, very, VERY happy people.

Make that four. Although given what Jason
faces (2 1/2 years without Roxanne, completing his own education while she's in the Peace Corps), he could be excused if he were of two minds.

The House.

Happy woman in New Kitchen.

Make that two.

The Wine Begins To Flow.
Don't blame me if the picture is fuzzy, this one was Not My Fault.

The Minestrone. All vegetarian. This, plus bread, was dinner for six, and it was good.

Monday 5/18/2009
Day 26

Chuck Kent, happy helmsman. Sailors rarely smile when sailing. I was lucky to get this glimmer.
Compared to his dad (who was a very serious sailor), this is positively beaming.


J/105 in an 18 knot puff with not enough movable ballast.

OK, this is more "normal".

Wednesday 5/20/2009
Day 28

I got a little off route on my way from Annapolis to the Atlantic coast, and ended up taking some back roads through farm and forest to a place called Fenwick Island. There was a several-mile stretch of deep forest with a sunlit canopy that really caught my fancy. It was bracketed by farms that had clear-cut the forest, but for these few miles it was primeval.

Here in Fenwick Island, Summer Hill, among other builders, will gladly take your money and give you a McMansion right on the beach, in harm's way.

There is beach access like this just about every block on Fenwick Island, and when you go over the dune you see . . .

 . . . El Segundo Beach! Or at least that's what it looked like to me at first blush, complete with offshore tanker.

OK, it's the east coast after all. Hey, with a bike path and Strand footpath, this could look just like Manhattan Beach.

Going north along the beach, there were several installations like this: Shoreline defense towers in pairs.

The plaque tells the story
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The lower right corner has the salient details: Triangulation followed by obliteration.
Actually, no shot was ever fired from any of these installations. But they could have.

I got to the hotel and the clerk, seeing my bike, gave me a motorcycle magazine that was kicking around. Turned out it was a catalog of motorcycle events and ads for same. This one is for Sturgis (Aug 3-9, 2009). It was the "centerfold". Just you and 499,999 of your closest friends.

There are two kinds of motorcyclist:  Those for whom this picture alone is all the reason they'll ever need to go there every year, and those for whom it's all the reason they'll ever need to stay as far away as humanly possible. Given that a) I don't particularly care for Harleys, b) I don't particularly care for Harley riders, and c) I don't generally gravitate to human company in numbers greater than about two or three at a time, guess which type I am.

OK, finally got to Rehoboth Beach, where I'm staying tonight. Here's the east coast equivalent of where Manhattan Beach Blvd hits the beach.

Once there, there's a . . . boardwalk! You know, I
actually didn't know what a boardwalk was until I saw this!

Instead of ice plant (a la Manhattan Beach), these guys have real live dune grasses -- carefully fenced into plots so people won't trample them to death.

This looks more like Hermosa Beach to my eye. The difference is, it snows here . . .

Even so, in case you wanted to buy property, this lovely little tree-shaded street a few blocks from the beach could be your new home for a whole lot fewer shekels than MB Tree Section.

Whew! Long update. But the good news is, I'm now up to date. Tomorrow, the Cape May Ferry and a hotel in Eatontown, NJ (137 miles). Friday, 63 miles to a Ramada Inn right at JFK Airport -- from where, on Saturday, I'll fly to Phoenix for a wedding. The Ramada has a park-n-fly deal that will give me a room for the night, a ride to and from the airport, and up to seven days' secure underground parking for my bike. I need that!

For those of you who are counting, today marks the end of four weeks of motorcycle touring, three times as much as I've ever done before, and that was with a co-rider. Alone, I think the most I'd done before was about five days.

More in about a week.