We leave Brad's house early hoping to make good time on what we knew would be an exceedingly long day. Since the Blue Ridge Parkway does not vary much, we decided to head on 52 to catch 81 north to Staunton, VA. Droning along, I look up and see the most unusual mountain. It stands alone and halfway up, the trees give way to a stone pillar. At last we arrive in Staunton and turn east to ride the Skyline Drive. Immediately the pace slows in an attempt to intake the aptly named road. Around each curve, a panoramic view of the valley unfolds. At 35 mph, I struggle to maintain this strictly enforced speed limit until I encounter the first deer in the middle of the road. The wildlife here are so used to cars, they have no urgency to move. Thus warned, I slow down and fall into an easy pace. Every view is spectacular and I don't want the road to ever end. The quaint town of Front Roayal greets us and we us e the TomTom to find the quickest route to our place of refuge in Parkton, MD. As we ride through Harper's Ferry and Frederick, I notice signs for historyic Civil War battles. We arrive late to my aunt's house for a rousing reunion.
We didn't do much riding today as I wanted to spend some time with my Aunt, but I did get some pictures of the nearby area. Northern Maryland is completely different than what I expected. Starkly different from Baltimore, northern Maryland is filled with rolling hills, winding roads, and beautiful farms. I take my aunt on a ride to Pretty Boy Dam and we sit for what seems like a long time just letting the roar of the water fill the silences. For dinner, we drive to Newark, DE for the best pizza on earth at Grotto Pizza.
I slept hard knowing we another long day ahead of us. Unfortunately, we get a late start trying to say goodbye to my aunt I hadn't seen in 13 years. We bid them goodbye at 9:30am and travel north towards Gettysburg, PA. The civil engineers of Maryland deserve a slow clap. Any road not an interstate is fantastic with rolling hills, smooth tarmac, and nice curves. We at last find ourselves in Gettysburg and instantly notice various signs for "auto tours". We pick the blue tour and find historically significant battle sites riddled with cannon and signs telling of the brave men who fought. Continuing on, we stop briefly at the visitors center for a map and restroom break. From there, we pay our respects at the cemetary and begin the push towards West Virginia. Knowing that the two hours spent at Gettysburg would make the rest of the day that much longer, we forsake the backroads in favor of a more direct route on interstate 70. We finally head south on 220 passing briefly through Maryland before entering West Virginia. Route 220 slows our progress dramatically as the road passes through many small towns. We stop in Keyser, WV for lunch at the very busy Italian restaurant, Cagliones. This is by far the worst meal of the entire trip. Mark's lasagna comes twenty minutes before my cheese steak sandwhich. Neither meal had any flavor but with portions so large, many diners leave with enough leftovers for dinner and lunch. We soon leave the hum drum of 220 for 50 west. Instantly, the feel of the road shifts heaving us to and fro on the way up the mountain. After a series of tight turns and loops, we arrive at the top of the mountain. Soon 93 west sets us racing westward along the mountain ridge towards Charleston. With the 65 mph speed limit, all attention can be focused on sport riding rather than worrying about staying free of speeding tickets. The sun is setting fast as we near Charleston. Suddenly, as we round the base of one mountain, we encounter rain on interstate 64. Dejected, I turn on to the interstate knowing I would be missing some fantastic backroads. Fortunately, this highway is not straight for more than a minute and bends for miles at the base of the mountains. Exhausted, we turn in at Charleston to escape the rain. The Sleep Inn leaves us comfortably content for $80 and promises a good breakfast.
Homeward bound we spring forth and enjoy the continental breakfast containing biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs, and toast. The day is muggy and hot but even so, I don my leathers and rain gear knowing we are headed into a bad storm. By the time we get to Huntington, WV, we are miserably hot. Instantly, the heavens let loose with a tremendous downpour. Visibility is about 10-20 feet with even that obscured by road spray. Suitibly, our pace slows and we take great care. We get separated in traffic surrounding Cincinnati but thanks to the Scala Rider, we quickly reunite and cross into Indiana. At long last, we arive at home drenched but happy. The jounrey done, we take a moment to reminisce about the good time knowing that this adventure will be rmembered fondlly.
Total Mileage: 2,831