Monday, April 23, 2007

Lake Taghkanic State Park, New York

Loaded up and ready to ride, leaving Jeff's house in Waterbury, Vermont. We're riding to Key West, Florida.

10:30 p.m.

Camped on a large wooden platform in this rather shabby campground. Apparently, we're the only campers here. Our first day on the road has not been particularly auspicious. Jeff's experiencing a lot of frustration. It's a matter of adapting to the routines of the road, and to the minor discomforts and inconveniences.

Driving her new (to her) Mazda Kellie drops in to see us off

We planned a 9:00 a.m. departure. Actual was about 10:15. I noticed some oil apparently leaking from a couple of places on his bike: under his valve cover and around the oil filter. We decided to go back over to Frank’s Motorcycles (a twenty-minute drive in the wrong direction) to have it checked out.

Lester said he would immediately have a look at it. (I was impressed to see Lester, who is not a big fellow, hop up on the big bike and ride it side-saddle around the building to the shop area.) It appears they had just neglected to clean up the bike after servicing it the other day. Our route south took us back to Waterbury, so we decided to go to Kellie’s market for a slice of pizza. Jeff and I filled up on samples as she heated up slices for us. Another farewell to Kellie, and we were off. A hot day, by Vermont standards. Of course, we wonder if it's this hot in Vermont, what's it going to be like in Florida? We were anticipating highs in the upper 80s down there, but that might be wishful thinking.

We headed for the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. I thought we might camp near Mt. Greylock (from Breaking the Limit fame). I was disappointed to find the access road leading up to Greylock closed. In Pittsfield, we searched for a restaurant. I noticed an interesting pub located on the central square. It looked inviting, but Jeff didn’t want to park too far away, with his GPS exposed. (He didn’t have the key that would allow it to be removed and stowed during stops.)

We kept moving. The Berkshires appeared a little trampled and threadbare to us, not the rich secluded forests I might have imagined. Too many people, too few retreats.

In Lenox, we passed up the abundance of familiar restaurant franchises, and settled on the Arizona Pizza Company. As we prepared to go inside, I noticed fluid leaking from my rear shock absorber. The seal must have blown out. Both Jeff and I were feeling tense. I had hoped to camp at Greylock. That being closed, there appeared few other options. I would hate to admit defeat on day one and resort to a motel.

The map showed a campground just southeast of Lenox. We found it, tucked on the edge of a residential area. But it too was closed. The camping season has not yet started back here.

By now it was dark. I gave Jeff another park to plug into his GPS: Taghkanic State Park in New York. I hate using a GPS for this kind of thing, much preferring to use a map, where one can see "the big picture". He led us onward. Connected with the "Mass Pike" and rode it about 12 miles to the New York state line. No toll charges, a pleasant surprise.

Over dark roads, through sleepy mountain villages, we wandered following the GPS god. It delivered us to Taconic State Park. A look around revealed no accommodations for camping. I was confused and consulted the "real" map. There are two parks with similar names within about 20 miles of each other. We were at the wrong one.

Our patience was reaching an end. Traveling these country roads at night, distractedly following the GPS display, is a formula for disaster. We had not yet encountered deer, but they are certainly out here.

After a seemingly convoluted series of turns and winding backroads, we stumbled into this park. No signs of life, we wandered until we found a camping area, and quickly, almost wordlessly set up our tents. We weren't in the best of moods. "It will be better in the morning."

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