Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lake Taghkanic State Park, New York to Phillipsburg, New Jersey

1:00 AM - Comfort Inn, Phillipsburg, New Jersey

THIS MORNING: At Lake Taghkanic State Park

Started the day at 6:30. Light rain last night, as a cold front moved in. By daylight the campground looks rather poorly maintained, the landscape quite tattered and worn. At 7:30, a ranger's truck passed within view of our campsite but they didn’t stop. "They must have noticed us." Jeff is a bit rusty and re-learning how to pack.

Leaving the campground, the road passes right by the ranger office, so we felt obliged to stop in and ask how much we owed for the overnight stay.

The ranger said the area is closed for camping. “Did you camp here last night? Well, you best be on your way.” Nice. We thanked him for his kindness.

With 80,400 miles on my bike now, the rear strut appears to have lost all its fluid and it's like riding a bronco now. (Perhaps a slight exaggeration.) But the bike is nearly un-ridable and, since I fail to accept the reality, dangerous.

Crossed the Hudson River near Rhinebeck, New York. What an impressive sight! So broad. The ancient Hudson Valley mystique is immediately more believable.

Entering Woodstock, my "eagle eye for sweets" spotted the Bread Alone bakery and we pulled over for breakfast. I felt right at home. Excellent baked goods, a cheery staff and clientèle, and walls decorated with photographs of Bob Dylan and The Band.

We found this great bakery, Bread Alone in Woodstock, New York

On the wall of Bread Alone bakery in Woodstock, New York hang Elliott Landy's photos of Bob Dylan and The Band from their "Big Pink" days

Curious about the location of "Big Pink", the local house where Dylan and the Band recorded in the 60s, a customer volunteered the information that the house is in fact in nearby Saugerties. He provided some general directions to the vicinity.

We browsed through the touristy town of Woodstock for a while, buying some postcards at the General Store. As my rear shock required immediate attention, we went to the Public Library so I could research BMW repair shops on-line. It looked like my options were Long Island, Phillipsburg, New Jersey and Bob's BMW in Jessup, Maryland (home to those great pork sandwiches!)

Jeff was not enthused about going near either the New York or Washington metropolitan areas, so Phillipsburg was the natural choice. Using Jeff's cell phone, I called Touch of Class BMW, and spoke to "Cindy". To my delight, she said they had a used strut with only a couple hundred miles on it. A new strut costs $750. She would sell this one for $500. I asked her to hold it for me - we'd be there late in the afternoon.

In my excitement, I managed to "step on a few toes". A woman at a neighboring computer terminal went up to the librarian's desk to report my use of a cell phone in the library. I had quite forgotten where I was!

Jeff and I left Woodstock in search of "Big Pink". We got close, but needed some assistance. We stopped at a garage-turned-woodshop and asked the woodworker. He directed us further up the hill, to Parnassus Lane.

"Big Pink" in West Saugerties, New York, where Bob Dylan and The Band recorded some of the most influential rock music of the 60s, including "The Basement Tapes".

The house was quite obvious when we reached it. Still pink. Trying to be discreet, we quietly rolled past. A hundred yards beyond,I turned around to park and take a photo. Jeff followed suit, but in making the turn a bit too wide, ended up duck-walking in a field where his tire rolled into a downed branch, causing him to perform a slow-motion "get-off". Oh, and in the process, he managed to honk the horn and rev the engine, broadcasting our arrival to all the local inhabitants. Being the sport, he got up laughing. A minor scratch on the windshield, the only injury. I dutifully recorded the momentous occasion on camera, and we beat a retreat down the hill.

Jeff points to the scene of his first R1200GS "get off". I was hoping to inconspicuously sneak up and take a photograph of "Big Pink", but our cover was blown, when he took his spill, revving the engine and hitting the horn in the process.

Next, we had to pay a visit to the Woodstock Music Festival site in Bethel, New York.

Riding with the bad strut grew more challenging throughout the day. In a Interstate 86 cloverleaf, I hit a bump and started bouncing wildly, the rear tire skidding along. "Oh, this is fun..."

In addition to this challenge, I was quite irritated at being guided by Jeff's GPS. It took us along a route that was, I was convinced, much more indirect. I had been through the area previously, and had a general sense of the directions to Bethel, yet the GPS continually pushed us further afield. Jeff admitted it might have been due to the parameters he chose for route selection.

In the end, I really have no idea whether I could have gotten us there more directly and quickly, and in the scheme of things, it hardly matters. It was just one of those little irritations that gnaw at you unless you address it head-on. I am very reluctant to resign myself to having satellites guide me down the highway.

In Bethel, not quite certain I had turned onto the correct country lane, we stopped in front of a farmhouse to ask directions. There we met Ruthie De Fazio. She assured us that the site was just up the road. But since my last visit, a prominent and wealthy businessman purchased the land and created the exclusive Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts on the property.

Ruthie De Fazio lives just down the road from the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival in Bethel, New York.

Ruthie and her husband moved here not long before the 1969 festival. She told us of the swarm of concertgoers passing through their property and that even the press corps had set up camp in their yard.

At subsequent anniversary celebrations, she has permitted the press to set up on her grounds. She refuses to sell her property to billionaire Alan Gerry who has purchased much of the land in the area and built the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on the site of the original festival.

She was happy to spend time chatting with us, and invited us to stay at her house any time we visit. A real sweetheart.

Up the hill, we came to sprawling parking lots, manicured lawns, gated drives, security guards and graceful pavilions. The public is (for now) still permitted free access to the Woodstock festival monument. We stopped for the "photo op", but the emanations of this place are no longer welcoming. We quickly moved on (as we should.)

Two cool dudes at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival site (with Alan Gerry's Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts in the background.)

The afternoon was slipping away, and I began to grow concerned we might not reach Phillipsburg before the BMW shop closed. I was not concerned about the service department. I figured I could replace the struts on my own, and that, in fact, it would be good training. But I did want to make it in time to buy the struts.

The next leg of our (GPS-guided) journey took us into the Delaware Water Gap. Before arriving, I was only vaguely aware of its existence. The parkway through this beautiful Delaware River Valley landscape provides a wonderfully soothing ride.

In contrast, the Pennsylvania roads we encountered after exiting the southern end of the Water Gap are poorly maintained. In fact, I would say "they suck."

Reached Touch of Class after 6:00. The strut was laid out for me in the Parts Department. Now thinking about preventative maintenance, I asked if they also had a used front strut, since we were at it. In fact, they did. Cindy's husband had replaced both struts on his personal R1200GS with Ohlins struts.

The parts man said however they couldn’t install the rear strut tonight. "That's okay. I can install both," I told him.

Then Cindy showed up. She talked with the mechanic, who happens to be her husband Steve. He said he’d install the strut. I could hardly decline such a generous offer.

"Cindy", co-owner of Touch of Class Motorcycles in Phillipsburg, NJ. My motorcycle's rear strut needed replacement. She sold me two slightly-used struts that came off her husband Steve's R1200GS.

While he worked, Jeff and I wandered the showroom and then went outside as the sun set. Soon, Steve appeared with my bike. He had taken the initiative to work late and replace both struts.

Mannequin astride Suzuki Burgman shows remarkable resemblance to Timtraveler

Cindy gave us a run-down of the local motel options. Not many choices in the neighborhood. But we decided this Comfort Inn would do.

A few blocks away, there's an Olive Garden Restaurant. Jeff's a big fan, so we went over and had some soup, salad and fresh bread. I think we were their last customers tonight, but we were not hurried by the staff.

I was pleased that we have "accomplished" so much today.

Now it's 1:00 a.m. This is a relatively trashy motel, but it gives me an opportunity to catch up on some notes. (Jeff is asleep, snoring loudly. I notice how his chest heaves and think that deep snoring must be very taxing on the body.) Read the latest entries in the "Fellowship of Friends" blog. The interest is snowballing. I see an old friend "Sandra" from Sebastopol has joined in the discussion. Each time I visit the site, the are new surprises, and old friends surfacing.


Drew on his book tour of Southern California with Jed and Greg Noll. They're signing their new book Greg Noll: The Art of the Surfboard for adoring fans.

No comments: