Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dismal Swamp Ride

This ride was actually done on Saturday, 4/11/2011.  The morning had been somewhat lazy, with my attitude that I'll probably ride somewhere, sometime.  I walked and had breakfast, and decided to get on the bike and ride.  I hadn't had a real ride in a while, it was a beautiful day, and I needed to feel the power.

So, around 11am I got on the bike and decided to ride towards the northeast part of the state.  I hadn't been that way in quite a while, so it seemed to be a good direction to ride.

I had several objectives for the ride:  1)  To get out of the house on a beautiful day; 2) To try out the installation of my old Autocom communication device on this bike; and 3) To see how the speakers were going to feel after being repositioned in the helmet.  I'll try to cover each one in order.

The day was just beautiful.  Warm, full sun, no real wind.  A perfect day for a good ride.  And I had decided after leaving that I'd set the GPS to avoid "big" roads (Interstate and other 4-lane roads) to allow medium roads and to prefer the little roads.  And I asked it to take me to Walter's Grill in Murfreesboro going the shortest way.  A ride like this is always a long ride because the GPS is trying to stay on county roads and off all of the State or US roads.  But it's the most interesting because it's definitely off the beaten path.  But that's my favorite type of traveling, and I was not in a hurry.

I got to Walter's Grill around 12:30pm and parked at the curb in front of the restaurant.  Ordered a hot dog, fries, and tea, all of which were good.  I had discovered Walter's Grill from a Tarheel Traveler segment on WRAL when they were covering good hot dog joints.  And they make a good hot dog!

After finishing and getting back on the bike, I just started riding east, meandering along the way heading east and north on secondary roads, just using the GPS as a compass.  I had no destination, so it didn't matter if I went 20 miles down a dead-end road (which I did once).  I actually had several deadenders in the 5 mile range, but it didn't matter.

As I was meandering along, I remembered that there was a state park I had never visited up on the NC/VA line north of Elizabeth City.  Dismal Swamp State Park.  So, I decided to see what was there, and looked for it on the GPS.  It found two listings, one in VA and one in NC.  I decided to go to the closer one, in VA.

I was beginning to need gas, so I headed north into Suffolk, VA to get gas at a place where the gas was always about 15 cents cheaper than in NC.  The park access was along the way.

So I zipped about 25 miles north to the gas station, and lo and behold, it was HIGHER than in NC!  That was wild, and I was determined to not pay more in VA than in NC.  I had passed a station in Sunbury that was cheaper than most of the others in the area and about 15 cents lower than in VA, so I turned around and went back south to the station in Sunbury.  I decided along the way that I didn't want to see the "VA" park, so I told the GPS to take me to the NC park, some 35 miles further northeast.

Saw several neat murals along the way in the small northeastern towns.  Stopped to take a pic at a couple.  Always neat to see the murals depicting various scenes dear to the area.

Got to the park (which is also a rest stop on Hwy 17 north of Elizabeth City) at about 5pm, an hour before it closed.  With it being so late, and with at least 2.5 hours to home, I just stopped long enough to snap a pic and headed back southwest to Clayton.  Got home at 7:20pm.  Did 385 miles and rode about 7.5 hours.  I was pretty beat!

The "old" Autocom worked just fine.  All of the inputs (except walkie-talkie, which I'll cover in another post sometime) worked just as they should, including the GPS.  The newer Autocom that came with the new bike just didn't work right--I never could get the GPS audio to work, and the walkie-talkie was horrible.  I may have to send it to a repair shop to see what's wrong with it.  But the old one works flawlessly.

The speakers were better, but still not right.  I could ride over 2 hours without throbbing ears (which was better than the one-hour limit before some helmet surgery).  The problem was that the little depressed areas in the styrofoam for the speakers was not deep enough, and the helmet was pressing the speakers too hard on the ears.  Definite progress, but definitely not good enough yet.  More surgery is needed!

So, the ride was a good one.  I'll need to make another trip up there to explore the park--what I saw looked interesting.  But that's another ride on another day.

Until next day ride...

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