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Discussion Starter · #2,281 ·
gearing up for the next 5 day trip. bike serviced, exhaust issue fixed, but now waiting on the new rear tire in 170/60. the Motech gravel guard had a few scratches, but no scrapes, gouges, or dents so i'm thinking the T7 like ground clearance is adequate. mail from the vendor yesterday said the bar code was illegible and the tire was rerouted, now there's some great news.

base camping again, temps in my riding area running 65day/40night, so i split a new bunch of campfire wood to take along, going to need it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,282 ·
back on page 64 of this thread is the start of a ride report from 2012...
Deux amis, les ames perdues...l'histoire de nos vies: La tournee d'automne magnifique. Octobre 2012




(to be continued...)

now in October, 2021, comes an update to this old report, watch for it...it's crazy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,283 ·
base camping this season, i needed a new cooler, my old coolers just didn't cut it for multi day stays...besides keeping the food cold, that cocktail ice wouldn't last beyond 2 days. i needed some capacity in the cooler, but had no intention of paying big money for a Yeti or similar. looked around to check the pricing, read the reviews, and finally ordered a Lifetime 77. the reviews said it performed as well as the Yeti, but don't stand or sit on it. c'mon, i have a chair if i want to sit, and i don't think i have ever stood on a cooler in my life.



before loading up for the trip, i put 4 frozen water bottles in the cooler over night to kinda pre-cool before loading the cooler for the trip. i decided to use a layer of frozen water bottles in the bottom, then 3 zip lock bags of ice, then food/beverages. when i got back 5 days later i still had ice and frozen water bottles, about half of what i started with. i wanted to see how long it would take until all the ice was gone, but my XO inadvertently left the cooler open on day 7, experiment over. the lid latches on this cooler are the best, easy one hand operation.

Ebay was the winner on price with free shipping, and the order was filled by Walmart, i was surprised, there was no mention of Walmart in the listing. 4 day delivery for this oversize box. the Lifetime coolers are made in the USA, unlike Yeti and most of the rest, all constructed of chineseum goobers.

bottom line, great price point, performs very well, and is going back to West Virginia again before it snows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,284 ·
Deux amis, les ames perdues...l'histoire de nos vies: La tournee d'automne magnifique. Octobre 2012

Shannon Nix and I always called this expedition our "Paris" trip because it jokingly started in Paris...Paris, Virginia.


On that trip, late in the day on October 14, 2012, we rode into a Forest Service campground called Laurel Fork . I wrote the following about the events there that day...


Past Spruce Knob, the roads reverted to gravel, more typical in this area, and after being in and out of the George Washington over the last two days, now we were in the Monongahela. I had been in here numerous times, and Monsieur Nix had been on some of the roads earlier this season. We were headed to Laurel Fork, our familiar haunt, no time wasted, except near Oceola, when I had to stop for a photo of some high pasture, the weather closing in.

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A half mile down the road and running hard, we found jailbreak cattle, a first for me here. I hate loose cattle, an animal so pea brained they will run to danger instead of away. We got past, then on the gas again, arriving at Laurel Fork to find only one campsite occupied, a WV pickup and travel trailer. Monsieur Nix chose a spot, coincidently the same one Dave Hiller had selected two years earlier, and we had camp set up in no time.

Like yesterday, we had been riding hard, a headlong charge down the route, squeezing every drop of adventure out of the country encountered, the organic freedom of men on a march, a gleam in our eyes the day long. Camp was set up, I was about to tap the bourbon, and as I was starting to unbuckle my boots, we had a visitor, and that's when we found out our riding day wasn't over, we had a sudden change of mission.

The middle aged couple with the trailer parked across from us were out for a walk when we rolled in, but Tom, a West Virginia deep rock coal miner, came right over to visit when they got back. This brand of Mountaineer is hard not to like, squared away, tough as freakin' seasoned hickory although cordial and friendly with us, disdainful of those both idle in mind and slow to action, and I'm guessing more than capable in most ventures. Can't forget, a twinkle of humor in his eyes as he was trying to figure out what the heck a couple flatlanders were all about.

When he found out we had come down from western Pennsylvania on mostly gravel roads, mountain top to mountain top, he must have decided we weren't exactly city boy Virginians, cuff-linked Cavaliers, no fancy hair cuts, no girlie jewelry, and so that's when he started to talk. A soft spoken nature in seeming contrast to his day job 800 feet underground, they lived less that two hours away and came over to camp at Laurel Fork several times a year, having the place to themselves on most days.

His wife Brenda also stopped over, delivering some disturbing news regarding a meth lab bust out in the woods just up the road. Man, the Officer we met up there near Paw Paw wasn't kidding when he said to be careful around the oddball folks we've found prowling the gravel. Then she dropped the bombshell...

"Ya got about an hour of daylight, you boys should go explore the cave that's up the road."

Lordy, those words were no sooner out of her mouth when Monsieur Nix went off like one of them big bottle rockets, freakin' log chains couldn't have held him down. Best buckle my boots, new mission, damn, now were going spelunking.

I got out my big arborist saw, and when Tom asked what it was for, I mentioned we planned to find some firewood on the way back. I looked at the saw, looked at the low sun, the heck with it, put the saw away, and we were on the bikes, gone caving.

We were looking for the Sinks of Gandy, and frankly, as many times as I've been in the area, I never realized this feature was so close. Directions were a little vague, landmarks a little off, but we finally narrowed down the possibilities. In the recorded history of all significant endeavors involving exploration, someone was always left behind to hold the horses, so I stayed with the bikes, Monsieur Nix set off on foot to locate our cave. I didn't feel comfortable leaving the bikes unattended on this road, I'll do the cave the next time.

This location has a somewhat unique look for the general area, and it tends to remind me of other rides, other places, sometimes far away places.

[IMG]

I'll say this much, Monsieur Nix was gone a long time, so long, in fact, that I thought that the Great Pyrenees protecting the livestock on both sides of the road probably ate him, the whole damn works, now there would be big piles of HIVIZ dog poop all over the pasture.

[IMG]

Finally, Monsieur Spelunker reappeared, all worn out from caving, and he had bagged his trophy photo as proof of his exploit.

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The small creek running through the pasture had scoured the rock formation for however many million years it took to cut i'ts way through to the other side, go ahead and crawl through, but you'll get wet, then there's the bats, can't forget about that bat fungus either.

We both were ready to quit, back on the bikes and hard on the gas, gravel flying, cattle giving us that blank stare they do so well, tired, but man, I do love these roads.

[IMG]

The lower road into Laurel Fork crosses a near new small bridge at the entrance to the campground, and as soon as we crossed, I could see our tents and a big split log fire going in our fire ring, a certain Mountaineer had done us one heck of a favor. It pays to be nice, sometimes the rewards are almost immediate.

We went over to thank Tom and Brenda, West Virginia gracious, had a long talk, sometimes about things that actually mattered, and put it this way, there was going to be a huge election turnout in the West Virginia coal fields. No contest among the coal miners, a done deal.

[IMG]

Thanks again to our friends, we needed to cook up some dinner, drink up some whiskey, ok, I just lied a little, drink up some whiskey, then cook, if able.

Tom had left us plenty of extra firewood, it was 38 degrees, and we fed the fire way past the time we should have sacked out. I do remember crawling in the tent, that sleeping bag felt really good, but I'm kinda hazy beyond that moment, half asleep already, then gone, in layered dreams of places and people.


Now I was back at the same FS campground on October 10, 2021, once again arriving late in the afternoon. I was setting up camp, hanging a tarp, when a guy walked into my campsite.

Me: Hey, I know you, you're Jerry.


Him: No, not Jerry.

Me: Ok, how 'bout Larry.

Him: Nope.

Me: Ok, what is your name, I apologize for not remembering, I met you about 10 years ago.

Him: Tom

Me: You look doubtful, like you think I must have the wrong guy.

Him: Yeah, 'cause I sure don't recognize you.

I rattled off all the high-points from about 10 years ago, check, check, check, check, check, as I clicked on all the boxes with the correct answers. Now he was convinced.

Me: Why don't you bring you're wife over, she might remember us.

When his wife came over, she didn't remember either me or us, and only vaguely Tom building a campfire for a pair of bike riders. When I ran down the list of fill in the blank answers, now she was convinced too, I really did know them...Tom and Brenda from back in 2012.

Brenda looked at her watch "We're waiting for some friends of ours, they should be here any minute with their camper. Ya know what, he rides a motorcycle too."

Me: Where's he from?

Brenda: They're from Virginia, just like you.

Me: What's his name?

Brenda: Stacy

Me: Stacy from Crimora by any chance?

Brenda (in shock): Yes, how did you know, we've been friends for years, and we met right here at Laural Fork.

Me: Well, how many bike riding Stacys are there in Virginia, I was just at Stacy and Shelly's house on Memorial Day.

If Tom and Brenda were surprised that I knew them from back in 2012, they were really rocked to find out I knew Stacy and Shelly.

Tom: Small world.

Brenda: Small world.

Me: Small world.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,287 ·
Back to West Virginia this week, watching the weather, might snow, short trip if it does. the interesting advantage of riding at the end of the season is that you have a view across the countryside from the higher elevations, it doesn't happen with all the leaves on the trees.

for those riders in maple syrup country, i'm going to stop at Still Hollow Distillery for some of their maple syrup bourbon, look it up.

the location is not marked, and looking at the map, i think i rode past it on the last trip but didn't see it...off gravel road in BFE. no, ain't going to buy ya a bottle and put it in the mail, so don't ask.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,288 · (Edited)
THE KWIK-MART KHRONICLES 106

This road is the back way up to Hartsel, but it must not get used much for regular travel above Salida as the road gets narrower through wooded mountains before breaking out on a plateau, unexpected beauty is always the best surprise.



The road is now more like a ranch road, not much maintained, muddy in spots from the recent rain, and the sky was, well, it wasn't lookin' promising.



The gravel turns to pavement just south of Hartsel, and I ride in, relatively dry. Had a terrific ride this morning, no heavy rain, now one of those big passes to cross, and I'm positive it’s raining up there.
With the weather threatening, I didn't plan on spending any time in Hartsel either, but took a riding break, had a drink, and met the gal who owned the little store there. Out from Raleigh, North Carolina years ago, she remarked "There's no one here who's forced to be here, people are in Hartsel because they want to be". That's one take on it, but from my strictly tourist point of view, it looks like people came here directly from Woodstock in a VW van intent on building a dome home or living in a teepee. So many of these places looked groovy back then, and being relatively close to the border, there was always a reliable supply of peyote.


The store owner was a very nice lady, but just when I thought she was concerned with my welfare crossing the hail storm ahead, she sold me a candy bar that was so stale I could have driven nails with it, might have chipped a tooth trying to eat the damn thing. When I said “Do you think that’s hail or sleet?”, she turned to look and I discretely opened her garbage can, tossed the candy bar in there where it landed on top of several others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,289 · (Edited)
Wild and Wonderful West Virginia...

note to self, don't go out there at the end of October and expect those gravel roads will be in good shape, no matter what the weather people say, those folks could be wrong.


sloppy, wet, greasy, even the 3/4ton was sliding around some. it never did quit raining 100%, just slowed down to a mist occasionally, a bracing 40F. the blue skies forecast were still 100 miles east when i went home.
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leaves mostly off on top of the mountains, but almost 100% on 2000' lower.
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bike needs a wash.
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wet camp, i need a better tarp system, but haven't finalized what the changes will be after this bad weather debacle.
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dark, wet, cold, but i still managed to put together a big griddle of chicken fajitas, one of my favorites for camp cooking. ate the whole damn works, really good.
[IMG]


got a good campfire going with a little Boy Scout helper, enjoyed myself drinking some JD on the rocks around the fire...then it rained harder and i had to retreat. they call it adventure, the smart adventurers stayed home, i had the place to myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,290 ·
Not Quite Wild but still Wonderful Eastern Virginia...

sunny and cool, i should have added a layer under the riding jacket, but didn't bother. along the gravel roads some leaves have dropped, but only a few, in contrast to my recent West Virginia travels. might make a difference to be at 100' elevation in eastern Virginia instead of the West Virginia mini mountains at 3000-4500'. here it is November, and there hasn't been a frost, nothing even close. maybe about 40 miles of gravel, and i'm again reminded of how many roads have been paved in the last 10 years as new homes are built back in the woods. i've been watching a huge horse facility going up along one of my gravel roads, big enough for indoor arenas, plus stables. goodby gravel.

i did find two hunter pickups parked, but otherwise not a single moving vehicle on the roads. bike was foam cannoned to get rid of all that WV mud, wiped down, lookin' good and runnin' great.





 

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Discussion Starter · #2,291 ·
it's been snowing off and on in my West Virginia riding area since the day i left at the end of my last trip out there. no matter let's bring the campfire and campfire cooking back to home turf.

potatoes started on the grate, gourmet hamburgers to follow. sorry, no photos of those, it got too dark, damn DST.




red and white oak bucked to 12" rounds and then split small specifically for campfire use. i hadn't processed firewood this way previously, but i cut a cord as an experiment, and it works really well, 100% burn, no smoldering wood left as the campfire dies down.

brought the campfire home from West Virginia...

 

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Discussion Starter · #2,292 ·
Woods and Waters Tour

temps in the 70's, clear skies, fall colors, can't keep the bike parked. did i mention that it was blowing a steady 30mph, the leaves were coming down like a brown blizzard.


at this time of year, i like to look out over the salt marshes, or any other marsh, since as a long time waterfowler that's where i spent most of my time in the fall. those days are mostly gone, but the memories are still there. i was a little off route, but picked a location on one of our local rivers where i could get a look at the marsh land on the south side, it seems like it goes on forever. i hunted near this location two decades ago with a client who still owned family property dating back to the turn of the century...the last one, not this one. the holding consisted of about 2000 acres, 500 acres of timber, and 1500 acres of marsh.

that client died some years ago, but when i was there the property still had an old two room hunt camp and a rickety boat shed, quite a contrast to the the very large and historic plantation houses on adjacent properties, those dating to the 1700's. the story of that day of hunting deserves a separate chapter, i'd never seen anything near the volume of ducks and geese that marsh was holding south of 50 North, it was spectacular. let's say that i was now looking at another river i nearly died on while chasing ducks.




fall on the river, picture perfect. my client's marsh property extended to the tree line in the background. there's a very historic hunt club over there that owns the marshes next to it, and are still angry to this day that they didn't acquire my client's property in 1900. those wise on coastal marshes will see that the entire marsh has been overtaken by phragmites, an invasive species introduced from Asia in ship ballast back in the 1800's. i would say that phragmites was only about 10% when i hunted there, now it's 100%, and i would suspect the marsh is not that attractive for waterfowl any longer. the season was open, but i didn't see or hear any activity on the river.



lots of deer hunters on the gravel roads, some roads more than others. there are hunt club camps all around this area, and some clubs own or lease considerable acreage. you know there's traffic when the leaves have been blown off the road by passing pickups, choose your photo stops with long sight lines, it's risky otherwise.





for those hunters used to having their choice of hunting lands, both public and regulated access to private land, here's what hunting looks like in eastern Virginia. if you don't own land, have lease rights, or written permission to hunt, you're forced onto limited public acreage. most hunters wouldn't like the experience. a hunt club has the lease on this enormous clear cut, and if i remember right, they lease even more ground in the area. there is zero tolerance for trespassers, they will prosecute, don't get caught in there.



this clear cut is at least a full section, probably more. the dogwoods and seed trees were left intentionally. more often than not, there are tree stands installed on the seed trees, either to still hunt, or to get a good look at any deer the hounds chase into the cut.



i stopped at this bridge a while back, not much water, but since then the beavers had built a substantial dam a short distance downstream and had raised the water on both sides of the bridge. can't blame them, it's been very dry here, and their previous home territory might have dried up. weekday ride, i could park right on the bridge, not a single vehicle in either direction.



busy beavers, but they might find someone not amused by their activity.



i had miles to go, but hunters were running hounds in the woods along my roads, better just idle along and don't stop for a photo or two. no matter that i was quieter than their dual exhaust trucks, they didn't want me there, no waves. i've never understood hunting with hounds, the guys were sitting in their trucks every couple hundred yards along the roads. if the dogs chased a deer out to the road, it would be long gone before they even cleared the truck, no chance at a shot. oh well, ya didn't get a deer, but by the time you leave the hunt club camp, you'd either be a heck of a lot better poker player, or broke.

glorious hours in the saddle, and i meandered home on some old roads, leaves crossing sideways on the wind, content with the day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,294 ·
...According to my laser range-finder - he was 25 yards away.
if you need a laser range finder to determine that a large moose is only 22.86 meters away, y'all must be legally blind, and shouldn't be allowed to walk around in the woods with any kind of weapon. most blind people could just point in the general direction of that 500kg animal at that distance, then shoot. you're lucky you moved to Bring Cash, otherwise the Calgary headlines would have been "OLD BLIND MOOSE HUNTER GETS STOMPED BY VERY OLD MOOSE WITH SLIGHTLY BETTER EYESIGHT".

hunted ducks with my father starting at age 3 out of my grandfather's White Brothers canoe not far from the Canuckistan border. it was cold, we got a few ducks, and i got a few sips of whisky laced toddy, i don't think he ever told mother about it.

shot 2 ruffed grouse on a logging road on that trip with my father's 12ga resting on his shoulder after some very brief point and shoot instructions. no big deal in that era, but my father bragged on it for awhile. the lake was one of those small pothole lakes that dot the area, and i have more stories from subsequent trips.
 

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I only "lazered' Mr Bullmoose to know how close he was, out of curiosity - I had my rifle OFF my shoulder while taking the pics, in case he decided to come my way. The FIRST moose I shot was CLOSER than that one.
 

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SOMEWHERE in these posts I'm PRETTY sure that I mentioned that THAT moose pic was from Alberta, as was the first moose I shot.

(y)(y)

:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,298 ·
SOMEWHERE in these posts I'm PRETTY sure that I mentioned that THAT moose pic was from Alberta, as was the first moose I shot.

(y)(y)

:cool:
see, that's what i mean, you're confused just like Uncle Joe. the BC plaque was for staying out of the woods in BC, while it's companion plaque from that sister agency in Alberta was in recognation of the fact that their hunter safety statistics rose dramatically when you moved. they're meant to be displayed side-by-side in a prominent location, kinda like a matched set.
 
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