Wednesday, October 24, 2012

ESTN Day 5: Ending Super Times Nicely

Monday morning, we helped ourselves to the complimentary breakfast at the Microtel before heading to the nearby gas station to fuel up so we could spend the entire morning "playing" in southeast Ohio. The roads in SE Ohio are spectacular! Last year's ESTN was based in Marietta and a number of ST.Ners have extolled the glories of SE Ohio. Chris had been on the roads before; he hit SE Ohio in August 2011 with Jerry, Jeff, David, and Kurt. He'd told me that riding in that part of the state was like riding one gigantic roller coaster. He was not lying! If the roads weren't twisty, they were chock full of elevation changes; most of the time they were both! Some had rises in the road where you couldn't see what was beyond...always interesting! Thankfully, Chris had the benefit of experience and GPS!

The route that Chris had planned for Monday morning began with OH 26 and included OH 800 and OH 255 among others. It was a gorgeous morning to play in SE Ohio!

Once we were done tooling around SE Ohio, we made our way into West Virginia at New Martinsville.

It's hard to tell, but there's a silhouette of a dog on the ball field meant to scare off the geese (seen departing the picture on the left).

Crossing the Ohio River into West Virginia.

We stopped at Sheetz in Morgantown, WV for a stretch break and a snack. Despite the fun we'd had that morning, my cold was really starting to wear on me. My throat was on fire and my ears were killing me. Still, I really had no choice but to soldier on, so I did. Another dose of Vitamin I (ibuprofen), a bottle of orange juice, and a hug from Chris and I was ready to get back on the bike and keep on keepin' on. 

We stopped again at Ohiopyle State Park for another stretch break (I was really fading as the day wore on) and to check out the water.

We stopped again in Johnstown, PA for another stretch break, more Advil, and another bottle of orange juice. At that point, we decided to hop onto the highway until we got to the Tyrone exit off of I-99. We exited at PA 453 so we could take PA 550 all the way back to the house.

Giving Chris bunny ears on I-99.
Just before we got to the house, we hit a big milestone on our Concours - 35,000 miles!!! 

ESTN 2012 to/from Sparta, NC proved to be an even better trip than ESTN 2010 (also in Sparta). The only thing missing was our friend, Sara. We really missed her!!!

Our total mileage for the trip was 1,543 miles over five days. Not too shabby!!! 

It did stink being sick on the trip. Riding all day wears me out normally; being sick meant that by the end of each day, I was toast! I slept so well each night, which was good. And it's not like I had any other option for getting home, so I just made the best of it. I dozed on and off a few times on the way home Monday and wound up taking a sick day on Tuesday to sleep most of the day (after I'd sent Chris out for NyQuil, DayQuil, cough drops, more Kleenex, and decaf hot tea bags). 

But the trip - even with the cold - was another fantastic time on the Concours with Chris and our ST.N friends! (Thanks, honey!!!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

ESTN Day 4: Exiting Sparta Tracking North

Sunday morning, we woke up, showered, and wandered out to the parking lot in time to see Jerry, David, Jeff, and John head out. We bid a few other folks farewell, as well. Frank and, sorry...Frank and BEANS! (that's the new nickname we've bestowed on Scott) were still at the motel, so the four of us decided to walk down to The Pines Restaurant for breakfast. Frank and Beans were taking two days to return home, too. Like Jerry, David, Jeff, and John, they didn't know where they were going to end up that evening. Chris and I were pretty well sure that we were going to make it to Marietta, OH that night. 

After dinner, we returned to our room to pack up the bike, check out of the motel, and hit the road. We departed just after 9 AM and made our way guessed it...the gas station across the street. LOL!

Our Sunday route took us from North Carolina to Ohio by way of West Virginia...which is sort of a given (look at a map!)...but our particular route took us to the New River Gorge Bridge, which is something I hadn't visited in about seven years. We tried to get to the New River Gorge Bridge back in May during the Region 6 Spring Meet, but the rain and our slower pace meant we cut out that portion of our ride. Chris had explained to me that there was a road you can take to get to the bottom to look up at the bridge, so I definitely wanted to do that!

We hopped onto the interstate (I-77 and I-64) to make up a little time so we could be touristy at the bridge. This meant we rode through several mountains, which was pretty cool!

Approaching the Big Walker Mountain Tunnel.

Approaching the East River Mountain Tunnel.

When we arrived at the New River Gorge Bridge, we headed into the Visitor's Center so I could purchase a walking stick pin (I collect them from National Parks, National Rivers, National Forests, etc.). We took a few pictures "from above" before getting back on the bike so we could venture "down below." It was a great ride down to the bottom and the views from below were spectacular!

After our New River Gorge Bridge adventure, we rode up to Summerville to grab a late lunch at McDonald's where we used their free wi-fi to book our hotel room for the night. We fueled up at the gas station behind the Mickey D's and got back on the road. We took WV 39 to WV 16 to head north toward Marietta. Along WV 16, we found the little town of Clay, WV and instantly thought of our friend Clay, who lives in Michigan (whose BBQ we attended back in June).

The thriving metropolis of Clay, WV!

We had a lovely Sunday afternoon ride up WV 16. The roads were great, the weather was perfect, and we alternated between listening to our podcasts (more Nerdist for me!) and talking to each other. Before I knew it, we arrived in Ohio and at our hotel - a Microtel - in Marietta. 

Our Concours parked in front of the hotel.
After checking in, showering, and changing into street clothes, we walked to the nearby Mexican restaurant for a tasty meal and a much-needed margarita. We ended the evening by tuning into Sunday Night Football for the first Steelers game of the season. Thankfully, we fell asleep before the game ended so we didn't watch them lose to the Broncos!