Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wharton State Forest

I guess I spoke too soon, the "bang" was more like a whisper and the cold weather returned last weekend.  Hopefully last weekend's good weather was only the first salvo of beautiful weekends to come and a good indication of what lays ahead for the rest of the year.  Nevertheless, a little cold weather is not going to stop me from going out, specially now that I have fitted heated grips to my Goldie.  I never expected I would need them, I have always been one to tough it out in the cold but on Sunday I switched them on and never turned them off until I got home.
Our group with the two red Triumphs
My friend Wayne had invited me to take a ride to the Polar Bear rider's meeting place in South Jersey, I called my brother and the three of us were ready to go in no time.
We decided to meet on route 206 at the Vincentown Diner in Vincentown and over a cup of coffee decided to go around Wharton State Forest before meeting the Polar Bear group at the Pic-A-Lilli Bar & Restaurant.  Wharton State Forest is the largest single tract of land within the New Jersey State Park System. It encompasses approximately 115,000 acres (465 km²) of the Pinelands northwest of Hammonton, in Burlington, Camden, and Atlantic counties. The entire park is located within the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve. The park is located in the forested watershed of the Mullica River, which drains the central Pinelands region into Great Bay.
The Pic-A-Lilli bar and restaurant on the edge of the Wharton State Forest
We were joined by another friend and the four of us departed south on 206 and then went east on Retreat road after passing through Vincentown.  We continued south until we met County road 563 where again we proceeded south approaching the edge of Wharton State Forest.  We entered the park and took a right on County road 542 on the south edge of the park near Green Bank.  The park has nice roads and winding curves through the forest.  One always has to be careful around the turns though as water runoff will bring sand and pebbles onto the curves.  The group consisted of two Triumphs, one BMW and my Kawasaki Concours, AKA Goldie. We quickly covered the 55 miles and after passing Hammonton Municipal Airport made a right onto Route 206 again, this time going North, arriving at the Pic-A-Lilli Bar & Restaurant in short order.
The Polar Bear riders group meet
I was surprised to see so many bikes out, with the weather turning worse and a few sprinkles starting to come down I expected even the Polar Bear riders would stay home but alas lots of bikers were already there.  It was time for lunch, after a few pictures outside, we went inside and had a good meal.
We came out of the restaurant and it had started raining.  We got on our bikes and went north again on route 206 until route 70 where we made a right and proceeded north east to Whiting where my parents live.  They always enjoy seeing their two sons together and a cup of coffee and cake was waiting for us.  We had just finished a huge sandwich but you can never refuse cake from mom, not when she has just finished baking it and it is still warm, the thought about not having cake hadn't even crossed our minds in any case ;-)

A pink Ridley, America's automatic motorcycle
A beautiful Indian Motorcycle

Monday, March 22, 2010


SPRING....it finally arrived and with a bang.  The weekend was going to be hot, all the weatherman were elated pointing to all kind of graphs showing how the weekend was going to be warm and not a cloud in the sky.  Weatherman are known to get overly excited over little things but when it comes to good weather even I get giddy at the possibility of spending some quality time with my Goldie.  Saturday was going to reach 70 they all said and so we decided to put some mileage on the bikes.  My wife decided she would accompany us on this trip up north, we really didn't have a destination other than we would travel to Port Jervis and then go up to Hawk's Nest on Highway 97 along the Delaware river in NY State.

Port Jervis is located just north of the point where New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York meet. The first fully developed settlement in the area was established circa 1690, and a land grant of 1,200 acres (4.8 km2) was formalized on October 14, 1697. The settlement was originally known as Mahackamack, and was still known as such when it was raided and burned before the Battle of Minisink in 1779. River rafting, kayaking and canoeing are popular summer activities, drawing numerous visitors.  Hawk's Nest just north of the town is also well know by motorcyclist because of the sinuous curves up the side of the mountain.

We left Jackson with a planned stop at "Xtreme Machines" in Millstone for their open house.  Xtreme Machines sells Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha and Can-Am.  We arrived at Xtreme Machines but to our surprise the usual was on display with nothing special other than Yamaha special financing and some cash back offers.  The usual display of bikes inside the showroom.  My wife bought some gloves while my brother and I looked at a Can-Am a customer was taking delivery.  He had just installed a new set of pipes and the Twin Rotax 990 sounded awesome but we were surprised when the guy told us he was buying it for his wife. He had bought it automatic because his wife couldn't use the clutch, she had some problem with her hand.  It's nice to know that you can still enjoy the feeling of biking regardless of your disability, where there's a will there's a way.

We then traveled to Metuchen for a visit to Cross Country BMW where my brother planned on buying a tank bag for his BMW 1200 GS Adventure.  After a little negotiation he picked up the tank bag, just a little north of 170 bucks, ouch!

We left Metuchen and our plan was to hit I287 north and then pickup US route 206 just north of I78.  For much of its length, US 206 is a rural two-lane undivided road that passes through the Pine Barrens, agricultural areas, and the Appalachian Mountains of northwestern New Jersey, with some urban and suburban areas. The road is known as the Disabled American Veterans Highway for much of its length.

We encountered light traffic most of the way until we ran into a Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Newton.  With roads closed for the parade we had to take a detour but thanks to the GPS we were back on the correct route after a small delay.  The day was getting warmer and we were glad to pickup speed again on the way to route 94 were we proceeded north until Hamburg, we then made a left on route 23 north and proceeded north into High Point State Park.  The park is located in the northwestern part of New Jersey in Montague, in the Skylands Region of New Jersey and is the highest elevation in the state at 1,803 feet (550 m). It is just southeast of Port Jervis. High Point is the highest peak of the Kittatinny Mountains.  At the peak is the High Point Monument, a 220-foot (67 m) tower, built in 1930 to commemorate the war dead. Three different states can be seen from the top: New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.  By the time we reached the park we were starving and we had to skip the monument but we will be back to tour the park in the summer when the leaves are green and the flowers in full bloom.  Route 23, as it crosses the park, has beautiful curves that can only really be appreciated on a motorcycle.  We passed Steeny Kill Lake, entered New York State and then made a quick stop at Deer Park Cafe for lunch.

It was 2PM, lunch time but after a quick look at the menu we all looked at each other and with a laugh decided it was time for breakfast, we all picked something from the breakfast menu.  Half an hour later, with two fried eggs, some bacon, ham, sausage and french toast in my stomach, or as my brother calls it, a cholesterol explosive breakfast, I was ready to move on.
We passed Port Jervis and entered US route 97 north into the Delaware State Forest along the upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River area.  This part of the road is known as Hawk's Nest in the upper Delaware Scenic Byway.  It's a stretch of road that winds itself up and down the side of the mountain offering beautiful views of the Delaware river and sweeping curves that are so enticing to motorcyclists.
We stopped to admire the scenery, see bikers testing their skills on the sweeping curves and admire the other motorcycles nearby.

After a few photos we made our way north until we found a gas station, my Goldie needed replenishment's, it was her time to have a drink of the High Octane fuel.  Six gallons later we were back on the road and this time heading south towards home.
Again we passed Hawk's Nest but this time without stopping, it was our turn to enjoy the sweeping curves.

We passed Port Jervis again and continued south back on route 206 but this time continued onto route 15 which took us to I80 East towards New York.  We traveled east on I80 for a few miles until I287 where we took the south bound direction towards route 24 which starts in Morristown.  Route 24 passes the by the Short Hills Mall, a high-end mall in the Short Hills area of Millburn.  We didn't stop, there are no motorcycle farkles at the mall.  We made our way to I78 East and onto the Garden State Parkway south where you always run into moderate to heavy traffic around the Union area.  It's always fun and challenging to compete for position on the parkway with the mom's and their minivans but we stuck together and made it home safely having complete just shy of 300 miles for the day.
We were already planning our next trip as we parked our bikes in my garage.  I can't wait for summer.