As usual the full set of Pics are Here
"I'm going to Virginia.
Going to the COG National!"
That's exactly how I felt setting off towards Heathrow airport. A big grin on my face, ticket, passport, money and plastic in my pocket. I love the start of vacations. 2 weeks in steamy, sun soaked Virginia.
The flight with British Airways on a 777 was uneventful except for the turbulence on the approach to Dulles airport. I collect my bags, clear Immigration and Customs and head for the Dulles Holiday Inn for a good nights sleep. Man it's hot in Virginia!
The next morning I'm met by Dale "Hork" and Tracy Horstman at the hotel with NS2, my ride for the next week or so kindly lent me by John Hinton. A quick familiarisation, load up my stuff and we're off to Manassas where we have lunch and I spend some money at a Big&Tall store (shorts, T's, etc.). Then back to Chez Horstman in Dale City to meet the family. Hork can't wait to introduce me to the twisties of Virginia so we head off for a run. On the way out of Dale City we go to visit LDR legend Leon of "John Deere" 250 Ninja fame. Leon is a real character and quite certifiable, but a good laugh and very serious when it comes to his bikes and his LD riding. Leaving Leon's we go for a run through Prince William National Forest to Quantico where we stop for a BK to wait out the rain we just rode into. after one hour we decide it's only water and ½ mile from Quantico the rain stops. Seems it hadn't moved since we'd arrived. <LOL> Back to Chez Horstman for dinner and an evening chatting with the family.
The following day Hork & Tracy have to work so I set off into DC to meet Steve Broadstreet who has kindly offered to take me round the Mall. We head for Air & Space and spend several hours musing over the exhibits there (we're both plane & space junkies) then after lunch head out onto the Mall. DAMN it's hot! About 90F with 95% humidity. I veto the idea of walking to the Lincoln Monument after Steve explains how far it is (HOW FAR??! <LOL>) and we head back to National Airport where Steve works. Thanks for coming with me Steve. It was good to meet you and I had fun, apart from the heat. <phew>
On Tuesday Hork decides to test my mettle and with Tracy (who is off to Natural Bridge already) we head out to 55. In Front Royal we somehow get separated from Tracy and after (another) BK we continue on 55 into West Virginia and down to Seneca Rocks. Having Lunch at the restaurant at Seneca Rocks we find out that Tracy had been there about 1 hour before us and had left to continue to Natural Bridge so Hork relaxed knowing that she was OK. You need to get those CB's working dude! <LOL> From Seneca Rocks we take 33 back over into Virginia to Harrisonburg, a quick hop up I81 and onto 211 for a ride across the Shenandoah National Park. Hork saw a restaurant called "Fat Boys" so naturally we had to stop for some photo's. <VBG>. On the way down from Skyline Drive we stopped at Cooters so I could get some pics of "General Lee" and rest my by now thoroughly bruised butt. It seems that the Corbin saddle and my butt disagreed with each other. Up to Front Royal and back along 55, through Manassas and back to Chez Horstman. 330 miles almost all in the hills, 8 hours in the saddle on a 12 hour trip and I HURT! If it weren't for the Cool Vests it would have been much worse. Dale is not too much better than me and we both sleep like babies!
Wednesday and we're off to the National. I still ache a little but get all my gear packed. the weather has cooled off so the Cool Vest isn't necessary and we're off to meet up with John Larmon before heading down to Front Royal and the Skyline Drive. It's rather cloudy as we ascend the Drive having paid our $5, and about ½mile in we spot our first deer. Damned things are like lice on a mangy old mongrel. Skyline Drive could be the most incredible motorcycle road ever except for 3 things. Deer, Cars, and 35Mph speed limit. Why doesn't someone over there setup a race down Skyline and the BRP kind of like the Isle of Man TT, only point to point. I don't think anyone could memorise over 200 miles of twisties. It'd make for a great race though televising it would be expensive. The Drive ascends slowly into the heavens which were wet and murky but it stayed mostly dry up to 33 where we turned off to head for Harrisonburg for a new rear tyre (NS2's was bald and getting strange, especially in the wet).
Once we found Early's Motorcycle Centre, it took us about 30 mins to get the rear wheel off, 15 mins to get the new Metzeler MEz2 on the rim, and then 20 minutes to remount the tyre. A quick test run up and down and it feels great. Load up and head for Natural Bridge, down I81. About 10 miles down I81 the skies open and several cubic miles of water are dumped in my face. Hork waves me past so I take the lead, punch it up to 80Mph and drive on through. He later told me that he'd waved me past to see if I wanted to pull over or something. Hell no, I'm from England and well used to riding in rain. We arrive at Natural Bridge KOA (Kampgrounds Of America) at about 5pm, set up and start meeting the people at the KOA. I meet Hans-Ove Gortz for the first time (Hey! A fellow European <VBG>) along with a fair few others. I won't name names because if I miss someone out they'll get miffed and send me hate mail! <VBG> Dale, Tracy and I head down to the Hotel to sign in, somehow I manage not to sign in, meet some more people, then we head out for dinner. We spend 3 hours dripping onto the restaurant floor while eating then back to the KOA. On the way into the Kampground we meet John Hinton coming out and I stop for a 10 minute chat in the rain with our helmets on. Once John heads home, I stop and chat with Hans and Elvin Rivera for an hour or 2 then fumble around in the dark trying to find my tent. Crawl in, into the sleeping bags and,..... can't sleep. Man is it noisy in Virginia at night. It's quieter where I live in the middle of a city. Seems like every damned cricket is trying to deafen his neighbours. I finally doze off at about 8am.
On the Thursday I head off to
Natural Bridge Hotel, register my existence, answer some questions about my shoe
size, my grandmothers bra size and how many ants my Dad stood on in 1967
<VBG> finally got my rally pack, but they've gone and sold my pre-paid 3XL
T-shirts. Both of them! Huh! <LOL>
Guy Young assures me that they'll mail them to me so I stop being a moaning Pom and head outside. There's Connies everywhere,... oh and one GTR1000, Hans's. I chat to various people, ooh and ahh over Rick Miller's new 2001 Blue Connie, walk up and down and generally overdose on ZG's and the mod's and widgets people have on them. Then Hans, Elvin and I head out for lunch. After lunch we head back to the campsite, socialise for a while, then John Hinton turns up again, and this time I even get to see his face (UGH! Put it away! <LOL>). John tell us that he has a load of Honey Wheat Beer awaiting bottling in Charlottesville and all we have to do is ride to his house in Goshen to get the trailer, then to Charlottesville, bottle the beer, load it up and ride back. This is exactly what we do, and arrive at the Monticello Brewery at about 7:20pm. After one hour (or so) of bottling and a little sampling (not too much, we still have to ride back) we say goodbye to the Brew master grab a Hardee's and head back to Natural Bridge. Getting back at 10:30pm we soon attract a small crowd and end up chatting until 1am when some one asks us to "Please SHUT UP!" so we duck and hide and go to bed. Since I couldn't stand the tent I have arranged to share a cabin with Hans and Elvin for the remaining 3 nights. I crawl into bed and can't sleep. WHAT the heck is wrong with me? It's 1am, I slept 3 hours last night I've ridden 300 miles today and I still can't sleep. oh well. I listen to Hans and Elvin snoring until 6am when I finally doze off.
Friday was my low day. I was tired, hung over, and the DAMNED ATM's wouldn't give me any money. <GGRRRRR>
I spent most of the morning sitting in front of the cabin, chatting with COGgers and nursing my hangover, then set off to Natural Bridge Hotel to get some money at the ATM and take a tour round the caves and see the Bridge. Never happened. Damned ATM's had me riding round the county for 2 hours before I gave up. On the way back to the KOA I pull in for one last try at a gas station and ,..... I GET MONEY! Whooheee! <VBG> Back to the Hotel for the group photo, a visit to Louise, Mistress of Merchandising and her able assistants to spend a few of these funny green notes, then back to the KOA where I decide that what I need is a good soak. Into the pool where I lounge in good company for long enough for my fingers to wrinkle up. 7pm and we head off to the Hotel for the Banquet. I have a reserved seat (NyaNya! Being a damned Limey has some advantages <VBG>) and we settle in for a fun night. Larry Grodsky did a funny spoof of his motorcycle training courses, I , Hans and a guy from Puerto Rico were dragged up onto the stage so that everyone could see us and to be presented with International Attendees certificates, and then it's FOOD! A great buffet meal, some presentations for best & worse this and that and the other ( the best were for Guy "RallyMeister" Young, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and Rick Miller who won best Rat Bike with his brand new 2001 Connie), then the door prizes and once I'd won mine (some S100 cleaner) I headed out for a cigarette and a long chat with several COGgers including Jerry Gowen, COG#19. Back to the KOA for some more heavy inroads into the Honey Wheat "Goo'Beer™" and when we once again got shouted at, at 3am to go to bed (we really hadn't realised it was that late, sorry <g>).
Saturday was a kind of non-day (probably due to the hangover). I lounged around pretty much all day, did very little other than write a report for Rick Millers COG-NE site, met Brian Moody, Wimp, Rick Shirk, and others, bought a Rifle base from Tim Carpenter, then in the evening we had Steak (courtesy of Rick Miller, a fine upstanding gentleman and connoisseur of good Cigars), baked Potatoes courtesy of ..... someone, green bits supplied by Debi (John's better half) and "Goo'Beer™" by John "You Da Man" Hinton. I have no idea what time I went to bed and I don't care. I had fun!
Sunday, and John, Hans and I headed up to Goshen to stay with John & Debi for a couple of days. In the evening we headed into Craigsville for dinner at a very friendly restaurant, then back to Chez Hinton, lots of jaw waggling and bed.
Monday we spent mostly jawing, planning the next few days, catching up on email, and stuff. John drove us out to Weyers Cave where I picked up a rental Mazda 626, my transport for the next few days. In the evening, Debi cooked us an excellent dinner.
Tuesday, Hans and I are up early
(6am) as he has to drop off his bike at the shippers in Norfolk by 11am.
We say fond thanks and farewells to John, Debi, and Debi's son Race and we're off, into Staunton, the I64 to Charlottesville where we stop for breakfast and gas, then onto Norfolk, arriving at the shipping agents at 10:30. The guy isn't there yet, so we wait until he shows, does all the paperwork with Hans, and gives us directions to the freight yard. After several detours (very confusing directions), Hans getting soaked in a torrential downpour, and a 2 hour wait in a McD's (lunch), Hans finally hands his pride and joy over to the shippers, and we head out of Norfolk. Back up I64, pull off onto the Colonial Parkway and head into Jamestown to see where it all began. A 3 hour wander around Jamestown, and we're off up 60, I64, 33 to Saluda, then 17 up to Tappahannock where we check into a Motel 8, get dinner, and pass out. It's been a long day.
Wednesday and Hans's flight is at 5pm from Dulles. We're up at about 8am, check out, and head into the WallyWorld next door for some shopping. I spend about $100, but they don't want Hans's money since their (busted) card scanner keeps rejecting his Credit Card. Oh well, he won't buy the $200 camera there then. We head on up 17 to I95, then up to Quantico to the US Marine base and a 3 hour wander around their Land and Air museum. From there we head up to Dale City, on to Manassas where we finally get cellphone coverage again (PCN), lunch in a Buffet place, then we head on out to Dulles. I drop Hans off, head back into Manassas, do some more shopping at the Big & Tall, then head out towards Warrenton where I find a Motel, eat, and fall asleep to SpeedVision.
Thursday and I head out to Luray
Caverns via 211. I greatly enjoyed the caverns, and if you've never been I can
highly recommend it.
On heading out of the parking lot some *&^%wit tries to kill me by pulling out without looking. Thank God for ABS, and with a few hand gestures, he heads off, probably thinking something about "damned out of state tourists" (I had Ohio plates on the rental). My mind follows a strange warped path of Brakes, Bleeding Brakes, MityVac,....... I'd left my MityVac at John Hinton's. So I head down 211 into Harrisonburg, then out along 42 back to Goshen. Debi almost has a heart attack at seeing the huge English guy back again, and when John turns up (he was visiting someone) I get my MityVac, accept an invitation to dinner (great food again Debi!) and spend the small hours of the evening chatting with John. At 10pm we say our fond farewells (<sob> <LOL>) and I head out 42 to Staunton, I81, I66 and down 17 to Warrenton to the Motel. Arriving at 1am I soon pass out.
Friday, time to head home. I
check out, and head into Manassas for a bit more shopping, then out to Dulles
nice and early (about 6 hours early) to make SURE that I get a decent seat. Drop
the car at the rental agency, bus into the terminal, check in, ask for a front
of section, am assured that I have a front of section, and go find the smokers
room for several hours of reading. At 7:00 pm a huge thunderstorm pounds in and
completely disrupts the airport, but they still load us into the plane on time.
Here starts one of the worst flights I have ever had in my life.
I DIDN'T get a front of section, nobody wants to swap, then we sit attached to the terminal for 2 hours, spend one hour taxi-ing, and finally take off. A detour round the thunderstorm, 7 hours to London, one hour circling Surrey, then we land and spend 1 hour parked on the taxiways before we finally get off the plane.
Man, 12 hours for a 6½ hour flight in a seat designed for someone 4" shorter and 4" narrower than me.
No wonder I HATE FLYING CATTLE CLASS!
Taxi home and bed,.... ahhh my bed,.... home,....... ahhhhhhhhhhhh ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.
In closing I would like to thank a whole load of people;
John Hinton and Debi for the loan
of "NS2" and warm hospitality.
The Horstmans for the welcome and great hospitality.
Steve Broadstreet for the guided tour and hours of jawing.
All the organisers and helpers of the VA National, great job people!
All the COGgers at the KOA for the friendly welcome and stuff.
All the people I met at Natural Bridge. Next time, I'll take notes so I can remember names. <VBG>
Hans for his company during the second week. (We had fun! <VBG>)
The guy at Luray Caverns for being a dork. Get yer head out of yer ass and you may notice that there are others out here!
And last but not least "NS2" for being reliable and one of the smoothest Connie's I have ridden, even if the Corbin and I disagreed on what shape my butt should be. <VBG>
Now all I need is a Lottery win so I can go to Oregon for next years National.
George "Boomer" Garratt