The snooze button is my nemesis. I’m powerless to resist it’s temptation. The alarm starting going off at 0430, but it was 0500 before I actually pried myself out of bed. Having already decided to scratch the BB1500, there was really nothing pushing me to get up, so I didn’t. Looking at the map last night I’d thought I’d be home by 1900, and didn’t feel any urgency. I would regret that a little bit later in the trip as the expected arrival time started to creep later.
I loaded up the bike and prepared to head out. The thermometer on the bike said 19. There was frost on the seat and windshield. Yay! I’d had some sporadic issues with the phones not charging the day before and had taken the time to clean up the wiring in the tank bag and make sure everything was plugged in tight. I pushed my bike away from the hotel as best I could to try and avoid waking everyone up as I knew I’d have to crank it for a while to get it start in these temps. Sure enough it was not happy about it, I couldn’t really blame it.
Once I got underway I was really feeling pretty good, I started thinking through the math again, trying to decide if it might still be possible to get the BB1500. It seamed it might be if I could maintain 65 mph on average, based on yesterday, that was not going to happen unless I gave up on the memorial sites and just stayed on the interstate. I again concluded the BB1500 was off the table, I maybe a bit stubborn.
As I got on I91 north, heading to the next site my primary phone went from 100% charged to completely dead in less than 15 minutes. This was not a good sign. I use a magnetic adapter cable when on the bike. I’ve had phones die in the past when the USB port wears out, given the number of plug/unplug cycles I go through on a trip like this the magnetic adapter is meant to spare my phone. It’s worked quite well in the past, but is prone to being bumped loose. That’s what I’d assumed happened here. I guessed that the rapid discharge rate was due to the cold. When I got the the first site of the day, I pulled out one of my battery packs that support rapid charging and plugged in a USB-C to USB-C cable. I use this setup regularly and it’s always worked well. This time nothing happened. I tried turning it on and it instantly turned off again. I tried another battery pack with the same results. I have two phones, but only the primary has data service. I set it up as a wifi hot spot for the backup phone. Without the primary phone, I lost all tracking data, my primary navigation source (Waze), and all my entertainment. Great.
Site 11: VT1 – Barton, VT
I took the picture with my backup phone and stuck the primary phone in my coat to let it warm up still thinking the problem was that it was too cold. I have an app on my primary phone that keeps track of the locations, resizes, and names the pictures in accordance with the rules. It also emails the pictures, in this case to myself so I’d have a backup if something happened to the phone. Using the backup phone meant I had to do all of that manually.
I also noticed while stopped here that the luggage rack my aux tank and top case are mounted to is pretty badly cracked. I know I had it overloaded but thought it would be strong enough. This is why I’m a software engineer and not a mechanical one. I’m assuming this was the result of the massive frost heaves yesterday. Despite the cracks it still felt solid, and there wasn’t much I was going to do about it out here anyway. I deiced that I would use up the fuel in the aux tank, but not re-fill it in order to minimize the weight on the luggage rack going forward.
Site 12: VT3 – Rutland, VT
On the way to Rutland, I passed through Woodstock, VT. When I lived in NY we used to visit Woodstock a couple of times a year for horses shows, it was nice to see some familiar landmarks. This site is a memorial to the Korean War Veterans. The monument is located on a busy street, but there is convenient parking in an access road behind it, next to a fire station. I turned my primary phone back on, and it would boot, and run off the battery pack, but didn’t appear to be charging. I was at least able to take the pictures I needed with it. I put it back on my bike and continued on, but it still didn’t show any signs of charging.
Site 13: VT4 – Westminster, VT
The memorial in Westminster, VT contains the names of the locals veterans that served in WWII. This was a nice little memorial in a small Vermont town. It is located in a landscaped area that forms the center of a traffic circle. I parked the bike right near the center, and was kind of surprised that the few cars that drove by all waved at me rather than giving me rude looks/gestures. I like small towns. The phone wasn’t charging, but did allow me to take the pictures I needed. On the way here I noticed the rear brake making noise. I checked it while stopped and found that the pads were shot and I was now metal on metal. I’d checked the pads before leaving and they weren’t in bad shape. I suspect I had a caliper sticking, this would explain the increased wear and the poor fuel mileage, maybe. I’ve been planning on replacing the disc next time I did pads as it’s still the original one and pretty worn, I guess that just got bumped up the list.
Site 14: VT2 – Bennington, VT
When I lived in NY, we were about 20 minutes from Bennington, it was one of the closest places to go for retail stores, food, etc. I must have passed this American Legion Post 100’s of times without ever giving it much thought. It doesn’t even have a cannon. As I pulled into the parking lot here the mount I use for my backup phone broke. This mount has a 3D Printed component, and that’s what failed. It had happened on The Void last year and I JB welded it back together and didn’t think about it again. I guess it’s time to rethink how that phone is mounted.
Bennington is one of my favorite towns, it’s got this small town feel, with a quaint New England down town area. It’s also got one of my favorite dinners, the Blue Ben. This used to be a regular stop for us, and since it was about noon, I was hungry, and I wanted to try and figure out what was going on with my phone, I decided to take the time to stop in.
The food was as good as I remembered, the coffee was better. While I waited for my food, I tried a bunch of charger/cable combinations. I carry spares of every USB cable I need because I always seem to have trouble with them. I eventually figured out that I could make it charge, albeit slowly, by using a USB-C to USB-A cable. It wasn’t ideal, but at least I was able to use my phone again. I ended up stopping for about 40 minutes, which put me further behind, but was a much needed break.
Site 15: MA3 – Lenox, MA
Leaving Bennington, the road started looking real familiar, I quickly realized I was on the route I used to use to commute to work during the brief time I worked at General Dynamics in Pittsfield. I was working there 11 years ago when I bought this bike. It was interesting to see how much, and how little, had changed. The memorial in Lenox, MA was a little tricky as it stands on an island in the middle of a fairly busy intersection. I almost dropped my bike here because of the slope of the road, but was able to catch it in time. I was feeling pretty good at this point, temperature was in the 50s, I’d eaten, my phone was charging and while running pretty far behind schedule it looked like I’d be home before 2200.
Site 16: CT2 – Waterbury, CT
Waterbury can be a challenge depending on time of day and traffic, I got lucky though and although there was some traffic, it was all moving and with a quick u-turn I was able to get a parking spot right in front of the memorial. CT2 is a really nice memorial to a Navy Chaplin who performed heroically following the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in WWII.
Just outside of Danbury my bike started to stumble, I reached down and switched it to reserve as I’ve done a thousand times before, only it didn’t fix the issue. I bucked along for a bit hoping fuel would flow and it would catch, it didn’t. I pulled over, to the left (I was in the passing lane at the time) having flashbacks to last falls problems. After playing with the valves for a few moments I could see fuel in the filter and it started right up. I realized that this was the first time I’ve hit the reserve since working on the bike, and it’s possible there was just trapped air or something. I continued on, but got off at the next exit to get fuel not wanting to take any chances. This resulted in a detour around Danbury airport, more delay.
Site 17: CT4 – Wilton, CT
CT4 is the CT American Legion Post. This maybe another example of the rallymaster playing mind games. You can see one of last years ToH memorials from the parking lot here. As I pulled in I had a brief moment of panic that I’d screwed up and put in the wrong waypoint. I checked the listing and confirmed it was correct, took my picture and was on my way.
Site 18: CT3 – West Haven, CT
It figures that the one place on this entire trip that I get stuck in traffic is RT15, a road I take to/from work every day. At least it wasn’t too bad all considered, I probably only lost about 10 minutes. This was also the only time my GPSs really disagreed, the Garmin was convinced the access road to the memorial was one way, and it was, but Garmin had the direction wrong. Took a minute or two to find the right site, a statue of a sailor looking off into the sea. This is listed as a 24hr site, but there is a sign there that says the road it technically closed after 10pm (or something like that), I’d be surprised if it’s enforced though.
Site 19: CT1 – Stonington, CT
This was the reading comprehension test. The ToH memorial is a bench dedicated to the memory of a local that was killed on September 11th, 2001. There is a much more obvious memorial with a flag poll in the parking lot. I initially pulled up to that one, but my habit of always checking the provided picture payed off and I realized my mistake, took the required picture, despite being probably the windiest site so far, and was on my way. The temperature had started to fall at this point and the electric gear was back on. In the home stretch now, off to RI where the sites are only 15 minutes from each other. I’m feeling good.
Site 20: RI1 – Hope, RI
This site is a revolutionary war era cannon in front of the Hope library. Apparently the cannons for the USS Constitution were made in this town, very cool. My usual process at each stop is to fill out a paper log sheet with the odometer and time, then fill in the same information in the app I use for planning and taking pictures. I then take a picture of the odometer with the app and take the bonus picture(s). The paper copy is probably redundant, but since I wrote the app I use, I don’t entirely trust it yet (despite the fact that it hasn’t let me down). This site happened to be the last one on the page, and I turned the sheet over expecting to see 3 more RI sites and the last MA site I needed. There were only 2 RI sites left. A check of my math, followed by a check of the map showed that I’d fucked up. The first RI site along my route is actually right next to the Stonington, CT site. So close that when I put the route together in BaseCamp I must have missed it and not noticed. There was a lot of cursing.
The good news is I didn’t make that mistake in Maine. I was currently about 45 minutes from the site I skipped. Looking at the map I decided it would be shorter to continue to the end of my plan, then backtrack to the one I skipped before heading home. This ended up only adding an hour to my route.
Site 21: RI2 – Smithfield, RI
I was pretty pissed at myself at this point, the GPS was showing me getting home about 2200, time to take a shower, have a beer and relax a bit. With the need to backtrack I was going to be later and would probably just pass out since I had to work the next day. The good news is the next 3 sites came pretty rapid fire being only about 15 minutes apart. This site is a really nice monument to the armed services veterans.
Site 22: RI4 – Woonsocket, RI
RI4 is the American Legion Post for RI, it’s not in a particularly nice part of town, and I got to park in front of the 18 wheeler delivering beer while getting my picture. I might have been getting cranky.
Site 23: MA2 – Franklin, MA
The end is in sight now, this was supposed to be the last site for me before I screwed up. I still felt a sense of accomplishment getting here. Parking was a bit tricky as the memorials are on the end of a park where there is no parking. I ended up making a lap of the park in order to find a spot to park where I could get a picture of the bike and still see the memorial in the back ground. This was another where you needed to be paying attention as there are several memorials in the park that look similar. The one I was looking for is an Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial.
Site 24: RI3 – Westerly, RI
The route back down to Westerly was, thankfully, a straight shot down I95 and took about an hour. The GPS was now showing me getting home about 2300, a lot later than the 1900 I’d been thinking looking at the map in the hotel last night. When I made the plan, I didn’t account for stopped time which I think explains the difference. Parking is tight at this memorial, but because it was pretty late, I just parked in the driveway of the business across the street which worked out well. This was one of my favorite memorials of the trip, and not just because it was the last one. It’s a really nicely done monument to the veterans of Westerly that overlooks a park.
I had been sending all the pictures along the way to my server at home. I had a script setup to submit the pictures to the Tour of Honor, but I took a few minutes to log into my server, make sure everything was in order and tweak the wording of the email to remove the BB1500. Then with the press of a button all of my pictures were sent off to be scored, all that’s left is to get home, and hope I didn’t screw up any of the pictures.
The ride home was uneventful, and was really the only leg of the trip were I felt truly tired, if I hadn’t been almost home, I would have stopped and taken a break. I think in large part it was mental, I’d finished the primary objective and was starting to relax, which can be dangerous on a motorcycle.
I made it home at about 2315, all told I’d done 1767 miles per the GPS and 1847 by the odometer. It took 45.75 hours all told.