Thursday, May 15, 2014

There was no oasis....

I couldn't get there from here....

All I did was stop at a Dunkin' Donuts....

I twisted that right handle as visions of billowing tents, undulating slowly, embracing and sheltering me from the blazing sun, danced joyously in my mind, where I, languidly reclined, slowly sipped frothy Turkish coffee.

I was on my way to meet Denny at the Sheik's.

It's Sheetz, Not Sheik's!  And while they do have espresso, there are no tents, no soft rugs, no blazing Sun, and although their motto has a tinge of Arabia in it, still my dreams just "poof" disappeared.

"Sheetz is a mecca for people on the go. If you need to refuel your car or refresh your body, we have what you need to keep you moving on to whatever comes next."

There I stood, glazed-eyed in the center of a bustling convenience store, and probably would still be there had not Denny, understanding my dilemma, packed me up and brought me to his house, where his charming and gracious wife sat me down and served coffee in the most genteel manner.  It was a life-saver.

Renewed in body and spirit, I followed Denny through the wilds of Harrisburg and onto my next southbound road, where with a salute and well wishes, he headed back to his castle, while I stared at the road ahead.

Well Mike, I don't know how you did it.  Or, rather, I'm not sure how you made it happen,  but, straightforward and truthfully, Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!

I said that to myself because from Harrisburg, PA to Mineral, VA, is supposed to be a snap.  Once Denny had me on Route 15, it's simply 15 all the way down to Culpeper, then 522 straight to Mineral.  A snap, I tell you.  A snap.  Now, riding 15 is not bad at all.  It's a mix of country road and no nonsense highway riding.  It's got some nice side road slip-offs, like "Old Route 15" and things like that which allow you to wander off yet stay more or less parallel with your road.  Neat.  And, for the most part it's a pretty ride.  What more could you want?  "However" as Professor Irwin Corey says, (If you don't know who he is, you should look him up.  There are some YouTube skits that are really funny.)  somewhere around Fredrick and Urbana, MD, the roads made funny turns, I got fershimmeled, and the next thing I knew I was on I-270 headed south, some 20 miles east of Route 15, heading straight for Bethesda, MD.  Not a good thing, so... when I saw the sign about what lay ahead, I perked up, peeled off and headed straight for Dunkin' Donuts.  Anyway, it was time for a stop.

I finished my coffee and coffeecake muffin, ambled out to the machine and cranked her over.  Nothing doing.  Cranking but not starting was the theme of the day, and after three attempts it smelled like she was flooded, so I sat for a while, watched the crowd wander in and out of the shops in the mall, then tried it again.... and again..... and again.  Nothing doing.

A rapid search on the web found a motorcycle place, and a frantic plea via phone got them to "Try to get you in if you get here within the hour." Called AAA begged for a quick arrival tow, then sat down and drowned my sorrow in another cup of DD coffee.

Have you ever had your machine towed?  It's a hilarious sight – even under a stressful situation: The Piaggio is what? Maybe six feet long?, and here comes this 30-some-odd-foot-long flatbed, ready to take you into its clutches and deliver you safe and sound.  A very funny sight.

Twenty minutes later, the Piaggio is safe on the ground at the dealer's, and I've off-loaded the ton of travel stuff.  We stand ready to be disassembled.

"Unfortunately," says the service manager, "it's too late for anyone to look at it, so you'll need to find a motel, spend the night and come on back in the morning.  In the meanwhile, please sign this service sheet".  So I stand poised, pen in hand, about to sign the service sheet, when I spot the numbers on the bottom of the page: $116.95.  It's going to cost me $117 just to have it looked at?

I stood there, ready to sign my life's savings away, when a mechanic walks over to us and says, "What's wrong with your bike?  It's running fine. I figured before I started to push it around the building to the service area, I'd give it a try.  It started right up and is running fine."

It took about 12-point-three-seconds for me to thank them all, repack my ton of luggage and zoom out of there: saved by someone's desire to find an easy way of doing something.  So, North on I-270; quickly onto North on I-70; now South on I-70, followed almost immediately by North onto Route 15 and finally, a quick turn South onto Route 15 – all these turns occurring within 30-seconds of each other.  Perhaps it wasn't quite my fault that I went the wrong way.

Now, it's hellbent for Mineral, VA, 119 miles away.


  1. Mike:

    I can see that traveling with you is an ADVENTURE. I'm sure glad that your bike started. You saved $117. plus taxes. I liked Sheik instead of Sheetz. I went to my first Sheetz last summer in State College, PA but it would have been more enjoyable if it was called Sheik's and housed in a tent with beauties moving those large leafy fans during the hot weather

    You've left us all in limbo. Did you make it to Mineral, VA ? I found it on the map. I had to use a magnifying glass but I found it

    A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Bob... You found it? Amazing, even if you used a magnifying glass. It is literally a one-light town at which corner there is a gas station and a restaurant. Pass that light and you're heading out of town toot sweet.
      I did make it, but let's not tell anyone.

  2. I love the way you tell your travel stories Mike. I am enjoying the recap.

    1. Brandy: Thank you so very much for the compliment. I am glad that you are enjoying my little adventure. So, as they used to say on the radio (WAY before you were born, Hey! Hey! Hey! Don't touch that dial (radios were tuned by little knobs that turned a real dial with numbers on it) It's time to listen to....

    2. Dial? Knobs? No touch screen?

    3. Nope. Just little round thingies, sometimes with little knurls on them. You grasped them between any two fingers and turned. Real high tech.

  3. Dduuudddeeee...where is the picture of your teeny tiny little bike on that big ol' flatbed??