2016 Niagra Falls motorcycle trip

Day 1

Our annual fall motorcycle trip took a different twist this year. For the last couple years the girls have directed us to the beaches. This year our destinations will involve water but not sand. We'll be heading to Niagra Falls then eastward to New York City. The girls wanted to visit the 911 Memorial in New York on our Outer Banks trip a couple years ago but it simply a 'bridge too far' given our timeframe. This year their wish will be granted.

Donna changed jobs within the hospital she works at so our vacation days were defined by her work schedule this year. We'll be leaving on August 25 and returning on September 2. I had initially planned a route that included stopping at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland but it eventually got dropped so that the trip could be a little more leisurely. We'll also be visiting Donna's hometown of Cortland, NY.

I changed the rear tire in preparation for the trip. The front tire was getting worn, and I had a new tire sitting in the garage, but I decided to get a couple more thousand miles out of it. Plus, I just couldn't find the time to change it. I've been putting new siding on the house and it has been consuming more time than I thought it would. In fact, I took off a day from work just so I could have the front of the house completed before we left for the trip.

A small pre-trip aggravation was the rear tire I just installed. I would put 36# in it and a few days later it would be in the 30-31# range. It never went lower than that so it wasn't leaking per se...it would just leak down. I changed the valve seat but it didn't make a difference. I thought the TPMS cap might be leaking so I took them off for the trip. My rear tire is a car tire so running 30# isn't an issue. I just didn't like it leaking.

August 25

Vacation day is finally here! As usual, Donna had us 90% packed the night before. We collected the remaining 10% and I pulled the bike around and loaded it up. Donna gave Buford a treat and lots of hugs, took a selfie of us, and we rode off. Her daughter Shanon is staying at the house while we are gone to watch Buford. She takes good care of him and it gives her a vacation from her normal living arrangements. She spoils Buford so much I doubt he even misses us. My mom & dad stop in when she is working or at school.

Bedford, IN. 6:57, initial mileage 89,831 - We are meeting Monty & Stephanie at Revere's at 7 am. Strangely, Monty was early and already there when we pulled up to the gas pumps. Donna got ice and drinks while I fueled the bike.

There is a mailbox at the Revere's lot and I had a letter I needed to mail. While we were packing I sat the letter on the pop cooler. As I was fueling I suddenly remembered the letter. I looked on the cooler. No luck. I texted Mom & Dad later. He found the letter down by the road. Whew!

The trip begins! Heading east on US50. The weather has been sunny and stinking hot lately. It's supposed to be a few degrees cooler today but it will still be hot. It is a great feeling to be starting vacation by riding into the sunrise.

Having my sweetheart behind me and the black Goldwing following makes for a great combination.

If you've read my other trip reports you've heard me complain about Indiana's draconian chip & seal fetish. Well, it finally bit them in the ass. A few years ago they chip & sealed US50 and it didn't hold up to the traffic. Now they are having to remove the chip & seal and put down real asphalt. The bad part this morning is we had to ride a long ways on the nasty shaved pavement.

West of Brownstown we had to wait for road construction.

My cockpit for the trip. In one hundred miles my bike will reach 90,000 miles. The cruise control is on. 77*. 14V. Water temperature 180*. 384 miles to go and still eight hours of travel time. The yellow light on the right speaker cover is one of the gear position indicator lights I added over the winter. Below it is green for fourth gear and below that is blue for second gear. It works better than the previous setup I had.

I've been using the cruise control as much as possible. A couple months ago I was playing tug with Buford. He jerked hard and the ring finger on my right hand popped. It still hurts and is hard to bend. I'm not sure if it is injured or just a victim of old age.

When I plotted the course for the day I tried to keep the route as northeasterly as possible. This road is part of a shortcut between IN-3 and IN-44. It didn't look bad on the map and eventually follows some railroad tracks. In this picture the road is good quality, but down the road it got narrower and poorer quality. I was glad to hit better roads. My backseater doesn't like bumpy roads.

Coming up IN-121 south of Connersville we came upon some railroad equipment. It must belong to some railroad society but I didn't see any signs.

Connersville, IN. 9:50, mileage 89,954 - After nearly three hours on the road we stopped for gas in Connersville.

At the state line IN-44 does a zigzag and becomes OH-725.

It has been relaxing so far. Straight roads and farmland. There is no rain predicted but the clouds look thick and dark. I like clouds but it gives Donna a chill.

At Germantown we turned onto OH-4. This got us through Dayton with a minimum of stops. We'll stay on OH-4 until it merges with US36.

Mechanicsburg, OH. 12:11, mileage 90,062 - Fuel and stretch stop. We've been following train tracks but have found no trains. It was lunchtime so we looked for restaurants on the GPS. We found one that sounded good but when the GPS plotted a course it was in the wrong direction.

We ended up stopping in Mechanicsburg at the Castle Country Restaurant. In an effort to eat a light lunch I had a grilled chicken salad. It was good but I'm not sure how light it was.

This picture requires some explaining. I had walked into the grass to take the above picture of the bikes in front of the restaurant. If you look at my right foot you'll see a metal bar sticking out of the ground. Donna took this picture just as I started to trip on the metal bar. I didn't fall but I did a lot of dancing to try to stay upright. Donna got a good belly laugh out of it.

Mount Vernon, OH. 14:43, mileage 90,145 - The terrain has taken on some hills and woods between bursts of farmland. We passed through Marysville...the birthplace of our Goldwings.

Bolivar, OH. 16:28, mileage 90,208 - I forgot to deploy my camera at the last stop so I didn't take any pictures. Our route this leg took us through Holmes County and Millersburg. These are Amish communities. Donna was on the lookout for Amish shops that we might stop at. However, we didn't see any. In the area of Berlin we saw many Amish out and about and in the fields but still no shops. Well...we saw shops but they looked touristy and fake.

We took a break in the shade. We lost our clouds hours ago and it is hot. It's also that time of day when you start to get road weary. From here we could hop on the interstates to get to our destination of Mercer, PA, but that's not the way we roll.

Nice toter setup.

I plotted a course to avoid the large cities in northeastern Ohio. This took us through a lot of small towns. By now we had less than a hundred miles to go for the day. The shadows were starting to show. Here we are passing through Waynesburg.

Minerva, OH.

West of East Palestine we saw our first, and only, train of the trip. It was a container train and stretched for a long ways.

No matter how much you love being on the motorcycle riding for hundreds of miles can be monotonous. Nice scenery helps pass the time. I'm blessed to have Donna to talk to.

Part of the route I plotted included a short jaunt on I-376. Imagine my surprise and aggravation to find it is a toll road. I don't like toll roads. They charge me a disproportionate extra fee for my trailer. It's confusing when plotting routes because it seems like every mapping system uses different colors for toll roads. Google maps makes no distinction at all.

We've been listening to various radio stations this trip. Lately we've been hearing of storm warnings to the north of us. Hmmmmmmmm. We are headed north, and in the distance we can see a weather front.

At I-376 exit 9 we took Mitchell Road to Old Mercer Road. This led directly to the Comfort Inn near Mercer, PA, our stop for the night. We arrived at 19:25. It felt good to dismount the bike after 457 good miles of riding. Our longest riding day is behind us. We also beat the impending bad weather.

The area around the hotel is pretty desolate for eateries so we decided to go to the attached mexican restaurant. We parked near our windows, unloaded, then put the bikes to rest. The storm arrived while we ate and continued for part of the night.

I slept well. Ahhhhhh....

457 miles.

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