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Thursday, May 21, 2015
My Epic Adventure!
Orlando extended ride report
I left my home at 5 AM on Wednesday May 13th and headed west
in the darkness, toward Manhattan and beyond to adventure. After as quick gas
stop in Islandia to top off the big FJR’s 6.6 gallon tank I continued west with
the first vestiges of sunlight beginning to peek over my shoulder. Onward I
travelled along the Long Island Expressway, which was slowly becoming more and
more congested with those on their way to work. By the time I was into the low
20 numbered exits I was practically crawling along. I was putting my feet down repeatedly
for a stretch now and cursing NY area traffic just as repeatedly. After
crossing into the midtown tunnel and out the other side into Manhattan itself
it was smooth sailing over to, and through the Lincoln tunnel and out the other
side. I stopped at the first rest area on the Jersey turnpike and had
breakfast. I was basically alone in the building. It was 6:30 AM. It had taken
me an hour and a half to go a mere 56 miles.
A quick breakfast over with, I saddled up on the FJR and
headed out. There was no traffic here, heading west on 95. It was a clear run
right to the Jersey/Delaware border. I gassed up again at the last rest area on
95 and began to roll once more. The plan was to get through Washington DC after
the rush hour traffic and it looked like I was going to do just that. While
there were other vehicles on the road by this point, it was not packed or
slowed to a crawl anywhere I went. By 11AM I was through DC and headed south on
I was following my GPS’s route and it took me off on I295
for a stretch. Originally I was going to ignore it, but I’m glad I didn’t as I
would find out why later on. 295 skirts Richmond and avoids all the traffic that
goes with it. The worst part of all of this was that I happened upon an
accident that had 295 closed down and I had to reroute. The best part about this
was that I went past an awesome aviation museum that had an SR 71 Blackbird out
front. I was awed by it as I passed by. It was beautiful. I should have stopped
and toured the museum. It was near Richmond Airport I believe.
I continued on and quickly passed into N. Carolina at that
point. The road closure had cost me an hour of going in circles and stop and go
until I figured out where 95 was. It was now nearing night time and I had had
enough. By 7 PM I pulled off in Dunn, NC at a Hampton inn. I was actually
heading for a Holiday Inn Express as per my GPS, but that was no longer there.
I gladly settled for the Hampton inn. I walked across the lot and had dinner at
a steak house there. After dinner I returned to my room and settled in, quickly
realizing I left my contact lens cleaner at home, along with a couple of other things.
The next morning I ate an early breakfast at the Hampton inn
and rode cross town to a Walmart that was open when I arrived at 7:30. I bought
my contact lens cleaner, a belt and some toothpaste then headed back to my room
where I remounted my saddle bags and rode out. It was Thursday morning and I
planned to be at Orlando 600 miles away by nightfall. The day before I was
wracked with back, hip and knee pain requiring lots of Ibuprofen to counter.
Today was different. I was pain free for some reason and just rode. I was on 95
doing 200 mile legs, with a half hour stop in between. NC and SC were both
beautiful states, while I found Georgia to be a bit boring, at least from I95.
There was no scenery there, just constant trees on both sides, like a green
wall for a long distance with far fewer exits than in the Carolina states. I
exited at the end of Georgia for gas once again and made hotel reservations at
Disney from there. If you go, try staying at the Coronado Springs resort, it
was a gorgeous place built with Mayan architecture and was just a very cool
place to stay.
I entered Florida not long after I finished my final gas
stop and rode through what appeared to be rush hour. I rolled into traffic before
Daytona where there was construction going on. It was slow going, but not
terrible. Soon I exited on I4 and headed west toward Orlando. It was a 70 mile
ride on a highway very reminiscent of a New York suburb; a bit too built up and
congested for my liking. After an hour or so of this I came upon the heavily congested
exit for Kissimmee, which was where I was supposed to get off, but the signs
said otherwise. I ignored the GPS and followed the signs to Disney itself.
After riding in circles until I finally found where my
resort was I pulled in and locked up the GPS and the Sena communicator. Then I
walked in and stood in line to secure my room. Soon I was rolling toward where
my room was within the complex of the Coronado Springs Resort.
One of the highlights of the trip was the guy who came to
take my bags to the room saw my license plate and was amazed that I rode down
to Orlando from New York. That was cool.
The next day I met up with my brother, his wife and their
kids and spent the day in the Magic Kingdom. I have to say it was great. I didn’t
realize how much I missed that place. I had a great time.
The next day they left and headed home and I went to
Hollywood studios on my own. I saw a great auto stunt show and the Indiana
Jones stunt spectacular. Then I took the Hollywood movie ride and finally I
took the Star Wars Star Tours ride. It was also Star Wars weekend there with
actors dressed in Star Wars costumes wandering around. It was a very cool day.
On Sunday I had breakfast at the resort and headed out. Of
course after three very dry days at Disney, as soon as I was pulling the cover
off of the motorcycle it started to pour. I took off anyway. I was already
checked out and it was after 11AM so off
I went. The rain stopped after a few minutes and I entered onto I4 and ran
quickly into a traffic jam. It turned out there was a minor fender bender a few
miles up, but the rain started again while I was standing there on the highway
The rain passed quickly and I began heading east on I4 for
70 miles. I entered I95 and hesitated about going to Daytona, but I figured I
was still some miles away from it. Boy was I wrong! As I passed on the highway
I saw the racetrack from 95. I was kicking myself for not getting off and checking
it all out, but it was already about 93 out and I wanted to get out of Florida
as fast as possible. I exited after a total of a hundred miles and grabbed a
quick bite at a cracker barrel. I spent an hour there, not planning on doing
more than 500 miles on Sunday, so I was taking my time. After lunch I rolled
out and gassed up again. I was averaging almost 46 miles per gallon on the FJR,
which is the most I ever did with it. I had switched to high test for this trip,
just to see if there was a difference, and there was. I was getting almost 7
MPG more with the high test.
Now I was rolling. There were few cars or trucks around me
and I was making great time. I entered Georgia and went most of the way through
it before I hit my 200 mile mark. Once there I searched out gas and filled up.
I took a short break in Burger King and rehydrated.
After a half hour I was astride the mighty steed once again
and heading back to 95. Now I was making time along 95. Within minutes I was
back in South Carolina. I rode a bit further than I wanted to. I had come upon
a town whose name escapes me, but it had lots of hotels and restaurants there.
I should have called it a night there but instead I kept going.
I passed ‘South of the Border’ once again and was entering
North Carolina. I rode now looking for either a Holiday Inn Express or Hampton
Inn, and passed a Hampton that did not have a sign on the road. Cursing, I continued
on as the next exit to turn around at was some miles away. I just kept heading
north. Now I was using my GPS as I rode to find a hotel. I was almost at the
600 mile mark for the day when I came upon Fayetteville, NC. I saw there was a
Hampton Inn off of the exit according to the GPS and headed for it. Once there I
found there was a ‘Ruby Tuesday’ in the same lot. I locked the bike up after
emptying the bags and covered it for the night. I walked over to the Ruby’s and
started talking to the bar tender. When I asked about how safe the area was I
got an odd look. I was told that it was not so safe. He pointed down the road
and told me it was kind of sketchy in that direction. Great. That meant
sleeping with one eye open and on the bike all night.
But I had nothing to worry about. The night passed quickly,
I checked outside my door several times and never saw a problem. Monday morning
I was on the road by 10AM after breakfast, and heading north toward Richmond.
The plan today was NOT to go through DC and then Jersey, but instead to head North
West on I64 to I81 and then end up in Pine Grove, Pa for the night.
Mother Nature had different ideas though. I ended up running
into on hell of a downpour on 95 going through Richmond. Of course there was an
accident ahead so I was trapped and unable to go anywhere for cover. I pulled off
at an exit into what appeared to be a ghetto. I rode for several blocks and the
area cleaned itself up visibly. The rain had also stopped, even though I was soaked
at this point. I found my way back to 95 and finally veered off at 64, heading
away from Richmond. 64 was a nice two laner with trees and good views of the surrounding
mountains. I headed toward 81 at a good clip and after a few hours ran back
into another soaking storm right around Waynesboro, Va. Enough was enough, I had
only covered 300 miles for the day, but that would have to do. I pulled off and
found a Holiday Inn Express that I had stayed at a few years ago with some
friends and parked it for the night.
Tuesday morning I ate inside the Holiday inn and was on the road
by 8:45.I headed up 81 and continued
for hours, crossing first the West Virginia state line, then the Maryland and
finally the Pennsylvania border. I continued on for another 200 mile leg and stopped
in Pine Grove, Pa for lunch and gas. After a half hour I was back to it. I had
approximately 90 miles to go to get to the 81/84 interchange and that was my
destination. I kept checking the Sirius traffic reports for NYC and as usual
crossing into and through the city was a disaster, so screw it I’d take the long
way that I never had to stop moving on. I was soon rolling onto 84 and heading east. I
was 75 miles from 684 and moving. The countryside up this way is beautiful with
lots of mountains and great curves in the highway.
After a short while I was heading down 684 to the hutch which
was a mess as usual. But it cleared up past Scarsdale. Soon I was crossing the Whitestone
Bridge and then on to Cross Island Parkway which was at a dead stop. I moved
across the parkway slowly and finally came upon the Long Island Expressway. It
was rush hour, I was screwed. They had the overhead signs lit up telling about
the road being closed at exit 56, and I was at exit 30.
Traffic was heavy up to exit 41 and then it cleared up. I rolled
until exit 52 where it began to slow down. I exited at 53 and headed south to
the southern state parkway and then the Sunrise Highway and continued east to
Nicolls rd. and home.
It was a 2700 mile adventure that I loved every minute of
(Well, just about every minute of. The down pours really sucked.)