Sunday, March 12, 2017
Fall Harvest Tour 2014
FRIDAY-24 OCTOBER 2014
This ride was the last hurrah of the year, so it needed to be satisfying. It needed to get us through the winter months till spring.
We had 3 days for riding, camping, and camaraderie.
The goals were to
-Ride down to Southeast Ohio
-Set up camp @ Lake Hope State Park
-Visit the Haunted Moonville Tunnel (Hopefully before dark)
-Visit the key POI's of Hocking Hills, Specifically Old Man's Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Conkle's Hollow, Rock House and Cantwell Cliffs. It will be a busy Saturday.
-Ride a lot of twisty roads and hit the extreme Southeast Quadrant of Ohio.
-Become spiritually recharged.
-Show Turbo Jim a good time.
-Make it home with all body's and bikes.
The meeting place for Friday morning was in the Warehouse District of Downtown Toledo, situated along the Maumee River @ 8:00 am @ Downtown Latte' Coffeehouse for coffee and conversation.
Jim and I actually met at the Pilot fuel station on I-75 - and rode together the remaining distance.
Gas Guzzler (Scott) was already there when we arrived.
This was my first time at this coffee shop and I was impressed. The place was immaculate and served fine coffee in white china. A good way to kick off the ride.
Turbo Jim and Scott hit it off right away as they were both ex-motorcycle drag racers. I sat back and listened to them talk about old days at the track and other racers they knew. I'm not a big talker most of the time, so it worked out well. I'm more of an observer, besides I figure God gave me two eyes and two ears and only one mouth for a reason, I should look and listen more than talk !!!
Ok, we are being blessed with yet another wonderful weekend late into October. Lets gear up and ride !!!
Scott loves to travel via back-roads and byways at a moderate pace, taking it all in.
He likes to navigate loosely with a combination of half GPS on the fly (just for reference) and half dead reckoning. He is adept at it.
So we put him out front to lead us down to Lake Hope State Park, the long scenic way. We always come across many interesting back roads with character this way, versus heading directly for the destination. We are throwing efficiency out the window today - instead we will wander some.
The sun came out and quickly warmed the morning air. The heat of the sun was more than welcome after the commute to Toledo with the temps in the 30's.
Within a half hour of being out in the country I spotted a large Bald Eagle perched up in a tree. That made my morning and was a positive sign to a good start. Spotting Bald Eagles is getting to be a common occurrence for me.
Riding amongst the multitude of farm fields makes for convenient bathroom breaks, as originally designed.
I really enjoy riding between the various fields.
Just about every combination was observed; standing corn, cut corn, partially cut fields, and the same for soybeans and wheat. Sometimes a bright green field, which I believe is winter wheat or cereal.
Some fields were freshly plowed and turned over with large clumps of pitch black fertile earth.
Real peaceful !!!
Hawks and vultures flying overhead, or perched in trees.
They swoop down on old road kill,
working quickly to get their fill.
As we tear by feasting on asphalt,
for that is our thrill !!!
There is never much traffic out on these country roads. Another notable thing is you rarely see signs of people, even as you pass farms and houses. Not many kids playing or homeowners out in the yards. Is everybody holed up inside staring at the idiot lantern all day - or online?
Regardless, it makes for a tranquil environment to ride in. Rolling through farmland in solitude with no cages to worry about and passing through old towns with ancient buildings that scream small town America.
Rural Ohio seems slow to change, it feels like somewhat of a time warp.
The people seem to live simpler, and appear content.
The quality of the roads are fantastic, especially after living with many of our teeth shattering Michigan roads.
The deer are heavy and to be feared in Ohio though, the continual red stains smeared across the roads, that you pass all day, are grim reminders !!!
Admittedly, I may be a bit biased in my positive attitude towards Ohio riding. Having been born and raised in the country environment may give me a deeper understanding of it and maybe a longing for it, or if nothing else a spiritual connection.
Not to mention, having ridden countless miles criss-crossing Ohio over the last decade and a half; the whole State feels like home to me.
We had flanked Columbus and were on the east side of it, just outside the suburb of Reynoldsburg.
It wasn't planned, but it just happened to be lunch time and we like to get pizza at Massey's in Reynoldsburg every so often.
The bikes were low on fuel so we pulled into a gas station to top off.
A good ole boy was checking out the bikes as he pumped gas. I verified directions back into Reynoldsburg with him before we departed.
He said, "Yeah, just go back to the first light and hang a left, it will take you right to it. It's 10 minutes up the road, 8 minutes by motorcycle." He paused for half a second and then looking at the ST said "5 minutes on that !"
I was laughing in my helmet all the way to the pizza shop.
Massey's has some superb pizza. It is a little pricey as far as pizza goes, but higher quality, I think. They are not available up in Michigan so we really enjoy it. I'm pretty sure the Massey's chain is exclusive to Central Ohio.
The crust is thin and very crispy, and they load it up with the vegetables you choose.
Turbo Jim on the left and Scott (Gas Guzzler on the right.)
We considered stopping into Wheelsport, the KTM dealer just up the road from Massey's, but figured we better keep working our way through the back-roads, as the days are very short this deep into October.
It baffles me when comments are made as to Ohio being flat and boring. Those people must have only experienced I-75 from Toledo to Cincinnati, or maybe the Turnpike running east to west across the northern part of the state.
Only after exploring the interior of the state, is the beauty and diversity of the roads realized. It really gets good south of Columbus.
Anywhere southeast of Columbus quickly becomes sport touring paradise !!!
I would think this area could rival the twisty roads anywhere in the country in surface condition quality and character. They flow nice also, allowing you to carry some speed, which is intoxicating.
Trying to snap pictures while riding these roads one handed is a challenge though, so mine don't do them justice.
We rolled into the State Park and found a nice spot to set up camp. The roads and forest through here were pristine.
Home for a couple of days.
We went and explored the Haunted Moonville Tunnel. I've detailed that in another separate post, so will skip that.
Running out of time as night fell, we didn't get to explore on top of the hill above the tunnel for the small Moonville cemetery. Maybe at a future date we will return and find it. Always leave a reason to return.
Before returning to camp, firewood was purchased at the park lodge up on the next ridge over. The local market just down the road had chicken salad sandwiches and chips - that's dinner.
We relaxed and ate around the campfire. This late in the year, there were only a few other campers in our vicinity, so it was as if we had the ridge to ourselves. Especially since our site set back more than the others.
Gas Guzzler pulled a few small bottles of Merlot out of his panniers. He thinks of everything. Under the right conditions and in good company - sometimes I will partake. Both were present, so I sipped one after dinner. That did the trick, relaxing me into submission, as I dozed off in the Seedhouse to the flickering fire visible through the rain fly.
-Saturday 25 Oct 14
Morning came quickly as we prepared for a big day of hiking and sightseeing in the Hocking Hills.
We fired up the Jetboils - preparing coffee and tea. Our simple breakfast consisted of Lara bars, oatmeal, apples, and cashews.
Gas Guzzler recounted his nightmare to us. Something to the effect of his brothers bone hanging out of the back of his leg.
I looked at him and said, "The old mans ghost did get in your head last night !!!"
The road leading to and from our campsite.
Just as we were entering Hocking state forest, a cool looking cave formation just off the roadside caught my eye, so we pulled over to check it out.
Appalachian Ohio - Many don't realize that Southeast Ohio is characterized by the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Unlike Eastern Appalachia, this region does not have long fin-like ridges like those of the Blue Ridge or Kittatinny Mountains, but a network of rocky hollows and hills going in all directions.
The signage is good in this area. Old man's cave is right around the corner. We will hit that one first and attempt to beat the crowd, since it is the most popular. Let's roll.
Ash Cave, Cedar Falls. Old Man's cave and other specific points-of-interests will be detailed in subsequent posts; this post will outline the ride structure, roads, and camping.
Upon entering South Bloomingville and preparing to make a right hand turn on Route 56 en route to Conkle's Hollow, I caught a glimpse of something to my left.
A row of motorcycles parked off the side of the road in a gravel shoulder area. Running down there to investigate revealed JIMBO's Burgers and Beer joint. Marvelous, we are starving anyway. What luck !!
There isn't much else around here anyway, and resorting to gas station food was not an option after this mornings light breakfast and a decent hike ahead of us at the next stop awaits.
What a great find,by chance too.This was a unique place to come across anywhere,let alone down some country road in Ohio.You would have never expected it.That's what makes it so cool !!
The restaurant was spartan and spotless, with beauty in simplicity, right down to the corrugated metal walls and paper towels in a bucket on the table. Such simplicity would also make keeping the place immaculate a simple task - ingenius.
Quality food never hurts either !!! Now that is a big burger - over half a pound.
This is from their website.the beginning...
We started humbly as a little Bar in the Hocking Hills, but with a grand plan: To create the finest burger this world has ever tasted. With nothing but a tiny kitchen and Joy & Jimbo's dream, 26 years later and we are a booming restaurant that caters to all.
Our secret? The best ingredients is a big part. An unrelenting love for the burger is the other part. We hand patty over 1/2 pound Fresh Premium Ground Round cooked in it's own juices. Creating a mouth watering, tasty burger just to your liking.
We have indoor and outdoor dinning. A large screen TV showing a blast from the past of Motorcycle Hill Climbing at its best. Enjoy Live entertainment outside on the patio from 3 to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday afternoons . Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day weekend (weather permitting).
After lunch on the way to Conkle's Hollow we passed this old barn with a somewhat freshly painted, or should I say restored, advertisement. Nothing says Ohio quite like a Mail Pouch barn; now that is old school.
Heading South on Route 93, working our way back towards camp, we happened upon a sign for Ravenwood Castle. Following the arrow, we climbed the long gravely dirt road, overlooking a farm and horse pasture, into the woodline above to have a look around.
Not what we expected; something old and foreboding. Instead it was some sort of bed and breakfast with a newer castle theme.
They hit a home run with the humongous chess game though.
The white Ohio Bicentennial barn was really sharp, just down the road from the castle and also on Route 93.
Backtracking North on 93 to 56 east, we then turned south again on Route 328.
What a marvelous road 328 is; awesome fast rolling sweepers with flawless blacktop.
I just heard on the radio today that Ohio has much nicer roads than Michigan because they spend a billion more dollars a year than Michigan - and that all of Ohio's gasoline tax money goes into the road system.
Coming out of a fast right hander and onto a straightaway, standing in the center of the road was a big buck. Showering down on the binders and quickly scrubbing speed allowed us just enough time to escape catastrophe !!!!
Mental note to self - slooow down !!
A quarter mile further, another deer, this time not so close. Then a sport bike blew by me at warp speed, rattling my nerves, as he took me by total surprise.
Almost back to camp, we stopped in the dated, little market for some provisions.
A local resident informed us that a motorcyclist had died last night on that amazing Route 328 that we just finished riding; he hit a deer.
The crazy part is that he was up and walking around while talking after the crash. He described hitting the deer and running off the road and down into the ravine to some folks that stopped to help him. The ambulance took him to the hospital and later he died. His body must have been in shock, coupled with adrenaline, keeping him alive for awhile until the internal injuries were overwhelming.
Can't beat the chicken salad subs for $2.50 each. Some chips and a six pack to complement them and we are off pursuing firewood.
At Wheelabout Road, we take the branch in the road to the right this time, towards Bubba's house for firewood. The left branch delivers you to the Moonville Tunnel.
As we are dismounting in front of Bubba's to inspect the $10.00 stacks of wood, Bubba and his pal show up; they were on their way to Lake Hope for some night fishing.
Both Bubba and his pal were very friendly and engaged us in conversation as we heaped up Gas Guzzler's GSA with a mountain of wood - and Rokstrap it down.
They mentioned to us also about the motorcyclist deer strike last night. In these parts, everyone hears everything and knows everyone.
I get a laugh when they respond to us buying food and beer back at the old market. They said "they are way overpriced there, I don't foo wit em'."
They would loose their minds if they had to spend their money up north in the Detroit area. They don't know what sticker shock is.
With the fire crackling and illuminating our campsite, we enjoyed our dinner and suds, while recollecting the days events - and discussing tomorrows.
Tomorrow we break camp and ride !!
All packed up and ready to roll, I took off a few minutes ahead of Scott and Jim so I could run down to Lake Hope and see what kind of photo opportunities this brisk fall morning afforded me.
We would meet at Hope Furnace, which I also wanted to snap a picture of before leaving, right at the base of the hill after descending from the ridgeline.
Route 278 is another wonderful road and delivers you into and out of Lake Hope State Park and along Lake Hope itself.
Just as I suspected; an enchanting veil of mist still lingering along the surface due to the colder ambient air as compared to the warmer water temperatures. Score !
This is my favorite, with the lily pads and vegetation sticking up out of the dark placid water in the forefront.
Then over to the old Hope Furnace to hook up with the others.
Today is Sunday and we have to arrive home this evening - as Monday it is back to work.
We are going to use up the balance of the day and take the long way home. We have to head Northwest, but first, some more Southeasterly riding is in order.
We wandered along country back roads and occasionally a gravel road, all at a more or less leisurely pace enjoying the tranquil landscape. On a nice curvy road, wicking it up for a moment - would sometimes be in order.
We did maintain a Southeast trajectory towards Marietta though. There are always old and interesting things to look at on these back-roads of rural America: dilapidated barns and buildings, farms and animals, pastures and fields.
You continually pass small cemeteries coupled with a quaint, white, one room church. I can't help but wonder, in how many of these little buildings does god really exist, or to go further, would he be more apt to exist in these seemingly humble structures vs. the glamorous mega churches that are filling the country.
We came upon the "Triple Nickel" from Route 550 and indulged in the joy ride all the way down to the Ohio River and Route 7. You are so active on 555 that it is hard to get much for pictures with a point and shoot. The proper tool for this stretch of asphalt is a GoPro. I managed to get a few pics though. Sharp curves at the top of hills are always fun, especially one handed and in the wrong gear taking a picture.
Sweet, fast sweeper with some camber through the corn fields. Be careful or you could end up in the cornfield !!!
More top of the hill turns with camber...Fuuuun !!! It feels weird charging into the turn and you have no idea what is around the corner.
Then a lazy ride along Route 7 and the Ohio River into old, Historic Marietta.
Craving a coffee, we punched our desire into the Global Positioning System, which led us over the Ohio River and into West Virginia to a building no longer serving coffee - but instead housing some sort of state gambling room. It was a dive too. Back over the bridge.
Back on the Ohio side, we rode along a brick paver road next to the river and stumbled upon the Levee House.
The Levee House stands at 127 Ohio Street as the only remaining original riverfront structure in Marietta. The river, once the source of trade and transportation, formerly was lined with dry goods stores, hotels, restaurants, and taverns. The Levee House has been all of the above.
The structure was erected circa 1826 for Dudley Woodbridge, the first merchant of the Northwest Territory, a dealer in dry goods. After his business prospered, he moved to larger headquarters. The building then became a hotel to accommodate the river travelers and in 1911 a one-story addition was added which became a saloon. The hotel, named The Golden Eagle became very popular with travelers. At one time, it was also known as La Belle Hotel.
Architecturally, the original building is a fine example of the federal style of architecture. The Flemish bond brick pattern along with the proportions of the room heights, window spacing, and molded brick cornices are indications that the builder was Colonel Joseph Barker.
Our timing could not have been better. Just as we arrived, the AEP (American Electric Power) Legacy tow boat (Built in 2010) was passing through, pushing a couple of long barges piled up with coal.
Look at that squiggly line on the map designated Route 26 !!!
Route 26 is another must do motorcycle road and the reason for heading into Marietta, as the city is the gateway to entering the exciting route.
It runs through another hilly section of Wayne National Forest, often paralleling the Little Muskingum river. Its total length is 67 miles long.
On 26 we came upon another Mail Pouch barn. This time there was a sign nearby with some history of these barns.
-It all started for Harley Warrick back in 1946 when he was discharged from the Army at the end of World War two.
-Mail Pouch painters came to paint the barn on his family's farm and they had an opening on one of their four 2-man teams. The pay was $28/week plus a 1.5-cent per square foot production incentive. Harley's take home pay could be as much as $32/week !
-Two to three barns a day, six days a week !
That was the pace Harley kept up for the first 20 years. But in 1965 Congress passed Lady Bird Johnson's Highway Beautification Act-prohibiting commercial signs within 660 feet of the interstate highway system and other primary highways,the Act almost stopped the Mail Pouch barn tradition.
Congress underwent a change of heart in 1974 and amended the law to exclude landmark signs "on farm structures or natural surfaces," or of historic or artistic significance. The Senate Committee on Public Works noted that "there are some types of outdoor advertising of a unique character that justify preservation"-meaning Mail Pouch, and Harley Warrick's work. One of Harley's barns remain here on private land.
Incidentally, this morning I was test driving a car down Michigan Avenue in Detroit, the ghetto before entering downtown, and saw an old Mail Pouch painting on the side of an old block building.
It really surprised me as I would never had thought I would see that sign in that location.
State Route 26 is also known as the Covered Bridge Scenic Byway. It being such, in short order we happened upon Hune Bridge.
39 Degrees 30' 36" North -81 Degrees 15' 02" West
Local bridge builder Rollin Meredith erected it in 1879,using long truss style of truss bridge design; the single-span bridge was named for the locally prominent Hune family.
Among its design features are a metal roof, abutments of cut stone, and vertical siding. As a long truss, the Hune Bridge is a valuable example of nineteenth-century architecture: few examples of this complicated style survive to the present day. It was rehabilitated in 1998.
After traversing the bridge, three primitive campsites lie just below and situated along the Little Muskingum River.
This campground is also a canoe access point and trailhead for a five mile hiking trail to Haught Run, or via a connector trail to the North Country Trail.
There are some really nice gravel and forest roads in this area also.
Actually, this is one of five primitive campgrounds dispersed along this scenic byway.
1) Hune Bridge - 3 sites
2) Lane Farm - 4 sites
3) Haught Run - 4 sites
4)Ring Mill - 3 sites
5)Lamping Homestead - 6 sites,8 picnic sites, Picnic shelter
Drinking water is not available at any of these sites but they do have pit toilets, tables, and fire rings. They are nothing fancy but they are free.
A very brief stop at Rinard Covered Bridge.
39 Degrees 32' 13" North-81 Degrees 13' 22" West
Rinard Bridge also spans the Little Muskingum River. It was built in 1876 and destroyed by a flash flood on September 18,2004.It was rebuilt in 2006 with most of its original timbers.
It is a covered Smith through truss design built by the Smith Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio.
Instead of following S.R.26 up to 800 and Woodsfield as usual, this time we hung a left on 260 which turned out to be another jewel of a road, twisting through and climbing hills, then meandering along slight ridgelines overlooking farms, then descending into a valley before repeating the whole process over again.
Then skirting the edge of Wayne National Forest, we followed 145 to 800 to 250 and Uhrichsville.
Around here we stopped for fuel and a bite to eat at McDonalds before our final stretch home.
When Gas Guzzler's food order rang up at $6.66, we looked at each other and said "That old man's ghost from Moonville Tunnel is still messing with you !"
We had a good laugh.
We began clipping off miles along U.S. Route 250 which runs Northwesterly. Traveling through Amish Country we passed a few Old Order Amish in their horse drawn buggy's hustling to beat darkness home.
After the sun set, a deep twilight took hold of the horizon and my soul.
An orangish glow lingered, seemingly forever, just over the dark tree-lines across the fields.
The orange faded upwards into a thin layer of clear, then a layer of light blue and eventually darkness. Every serious rider has a favorite time of the 24 hour cycle. This is mine !!!
As the night sky eventually turned dark, it was flawless and crisp with not a cloud or blemish in it, like you only experience in the late fall. Only a quarter moon was suspended within it.
Occasionally we would pass a massive combine harvesting a field with high powered flood lights cutting through the fog like dust it created. Then our lights would penetrate the dust as it wafted across the road.
All of these things made for the perfect fall harvest tour setting.
Near Norwalk, Route 20 was picked up, heading towards Woodville. We were not far from home now, about 100 miles. A quick stop in Bellevue at Burger King for a quick snack and brief conversation. Back on the road.
Just before entering Woodville, I waved on Turbo Jim and Gas Guzzler, as I veered off into the darkness of County Road 93, now rolling solo, so dark that I had to flip on the high beams.
It's hard for me to pass through here without making a loop out past my mom's old horse ranch. Her ash's are scattered there along with all of my last memories and time spent with her. I feel her spirit pull me in, or just miss her so much that I think I do. She left here at 39 years old, I was 21.
Ironically and inadvertently, her beloved horses ash's are scattered there also. Sundance was her Arabian Stallion she raised from the time he could leave his mother. He was probably around 12 years old when she died. A few years later there was a freak barn fire and everything burned down. He was in the barn.
After passing through and paying homage - in my own way - I finish the loop and roll through Woodville watching my speed; there might only be a cop or two in town but they will nail you. The tiny town even has a café named the Speed Trap Diner.
Your sense of smell can be vivid and heightened on these crisp fall nights.
As I pass JJ's Country bar I can smell the ages old cigarette smoke that has saturated the walls; the door was cracked open for some much needed ventilation and the acrid scent permeated the brisk night air.
I have sat in that bar myself - indulging in a Pabst Blue Ribbon and a Marlboro - before shipping off to Fort Benning.
Further down the road amongst some houses and the unmistakable smell of dryer sheets venting outside stimulates the senses.
Dryer sheets on a long ride always brings about a homesick and lonely feeling over me.
The smell represents such a homeliness, and the fragrance is like nothing else in this world.
AHHH...Life on the road.
An hour later the homesickness subsides - as I turn into my driveway spiritually recharged. Mission accomplished !