Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gathering of the Nortons

Last year I promised my dad I would take him to Washington State Park for the "Gathering of the Nortons" and then something came up and we missed the show. This time I made sure we didn't miss it.
The 18th Gathering of the Nortons was held at Washington Crossing Historic Park April 17 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  I decided to go with the family instead of riding my bike.  The five of us got on the cage at 9am and headed to the Brass Ring Cafe in Hopewell for breakfast, my brother, on his bike, meeting us there.  I didn't take any pictures but next time I go there I will take pictures as the place is a big hangout place with the bikers on Sunday mornings.  After breakfast we headed straight to the park arriving a few minutes later to see the place packed with Nortons, Triumphs, Vincents, BSA's,  Royal Enfield's and a plethora of Japanese motorcycles.

My dad had a BSA before he got married and all my life I have heard great stories of his rides with friends.  He talks about how great the bikes were back then and how most were single cylinder with the occasional dual cylinders. His BSA was a single and he was all happy when we saw this beautiful BSA.

My dad at 76 is in great shape and remembers all the adventures and road trips he did with his buddies.  BSA's, Norton's and Triumphs all screaming down the road with open pipes he recalls.   Sometimes I think they had more fun with these much simpler bikes than we do today with full fairings, panniers, electric starters, fuel injection, ABS, GPS, satellite radio, IPod and all kinds of technology that detract from enjoying the sounds and scenery of the ride.

Obviously, there were quite a few Nortons at the event, some still in original form, others converted to Cafe Racers.

A Cafe Racer Royal Enfield and a beautiful Triumph Bonneville

A Suzuki RG500 Walter Wolf 2-stroke spewing out blue smoke as all 2-strokes do and a Honda NS400R.  Unfortunately they were surrounded by bikers and I couldn't take a good picture.

Next we see this Triumph contraption, I think it's a custom bike and only the engine is from Triumph

There were quite a few Japanese bikes at the event, 2, 3 and 4 cylinders, 2 and 4-stroke engines.  Some of the nicer examples on display.

As the bikers started leaving, I took a walk to the edge of the main road and took a few pictures as they accelerated out the park, engines screaming and revving to the red line.  The first three pictures will shock my international readers as Pennsylvania has a no helmet needed law if you are over 21 and have operated a motorcycle for at least 2 years.

A Triumph Daytona 955 and a Honda CBX

This beautiful automobile rolls by, not sure what it is but it was well maintained and sounded nice.

Some old timers enjoying the day and the ride, white beard flowing in the wind.

The beautiful Norton John Player Special, air cooled, four stroke, parallel twin cylinder, push rod 2 valves per cylinder.

It was time to go home, but first we walked to the edge of the Delaware River were I managed to convince my beautiful daughter to pose for me.  In the background is one of the bridges crossing into New Jersey and close by is a replica of one of George Washington's boats used to cross the river on December 25, 1776 during the American Revolutionary War.  It was the first move in a planned surprise attack organized by George Washington against the Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey.  Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

South Jersey

I have been living in New Jersey for 26 years and it still amazes me how little I know of the back roads of the Garden State.  The southern part of New Jersey is pretty much flat with the Wharton State Forest in the middle. The park is the largest single tract of land in the state park system of New Jersey, it encompasses approximately 115,000 acres (470 km2) of the Pinelands. Three Sundays ago, my friend Wayne invites me to meet him and a few other riders for breakfast at the Vincent Dinner and then follow him for a ride through the Pinelands.  It was a beautiful day, I didn't have anything to do but my wife would disagree with me on that, and I needed to clear my brain so I left the house around 9 to meet him at 10.

We leave the dinner and head south crossing the park as shown on the map.  I didn't have a chance to take any pictures but I promise I will ride alone through the park one of these days and will take lots of pictures.  Our first stop was at the Batsto Village, a historic site located in Wharton State Forest in the south central Pine Barrens, and a part of the Pinelands National Reserve.  I had no idea the place even existed, so thanks to Wayne for taking me there.

A little history:
In 1766, Charles Read, a well-known ironmaster, built the Batsto Iron Works along the Batsto River on the site of the future village. The area had an abundance of bog ore which could be mined from the area's streams and rivers, and wood from the area's forests was harvested for charcoal for smelting the ore. The rivers, despite their modest drop, were also harnessed for iron making.

In 1773, John Cox bought the Iron Works, which produced cooking pots, kettles, and other household items. Batsto manufactured supplies for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

Read more here: Wikipedia

The Batsto Village has over forty structures including the Batsto mansion, a sawmill, a 19th century ore boat, a charcoal kiln, a carriage house and stable, a blacksmith and wheelwright shop.

Back of the Batsto Mansion

The Batsto Mansion

The Post Office is still in operation, and collectors have stamps hand-cancelled, with no zip code.

I walk around the village visiting some of the open buildings and admiring how hard life must have been back then.  No electricity, no TV, no "internet", oh my goodness, what did people do at night?
The corn sheller and corncrib, I don't even know what they mean, where's the supermarket? (sarcastic smile here)

Corncrib housing the corn sheller

Some of the other buildings, all very well maintained.

One last picture before I leave the village, the rest of the group was anxious, this was supposed to be a ride and not a sight seeing tour, but I love to take pictures and share with my fellow national and international readers.

We continue south and make the next stop at the L's Restaurant and J Bones Tavern for a quick lunch.  The Burgers were good and the atmosphere was friendly.  I will be back.

Four Triumphs and a lone Kawasaki Concours
Next we make a stop for gas, the Triumphs have smaller gas tanks than my bike.  I didn't need gas but since there has been talk on the blog-sphere about gas prices I took a picture to show what we were paying on April 3rd.  It has gone way up since then but we still have the cheapest gas in the country.

At this point some of the riders decided to break up and head home, it was left to Wayne and myself to continue the ride in South Jersey.  We head towards Egg Harbor City and make our next stop at the Renault Winery.  I had no idea we had one of the oldest winery in the country, I was amazed that my good friend Wayne knew about it, makes me wonder how he knows these places.

Nearly a century and a half old, Renault Winery is a recognized New Jersey State Historical site and one of the oldest continuously operating wineries in the United States.
The place is also a resort with a couple of restaurants, a golf course and the Tuscany House Hotel.

Click on the picture to be able to read the words
They offer Sunday Brunch, I guess I will have to go back again to taste some of the local wine.  We leave the winery and make the next stop at a small fishing village that seemed abandoned.  I'm not exactly sure where it's located since my route recorder on my Android phone had decided to stop recording.  I should know better to never trust technology, I guess next time I will take notes too.

At this point it was getting late and I had told my mom I would stop by her house.  As we were about to leave I spot the turtle sign on the lonely road leading to the fishing village.  Interesting, how come the turtles only cross the road from May through August? must be another New Jersey mystery just like the Jersey Devil.

I had dinner at my mom's house and then headed home covering a little over 200 miles. So much to see, so little time.