THE PAWPAW LOOP
September 1, 2008
Kim, Karen, and I decided to take advantage of having Labor Day off and decided to go off on a day long motorcycle trip starting and ending in Leesburg, VA. We figured that it would take maybe 5 hours. The day was supposed to be beautiful and we decided to get an early start. So at 7am Kim and I set off to Leesburg. This is where the problems started. I had loaned one of my leather jackets to Kim as it was a tad bit nippy and we slowly started out of my parking lot attempting to wind our way around the *&^% speed bumps in the road. One of our bikes obviously had not had enough coffee and decided to lay down and go to sleep. Luckily we both were wearing leather jackets so the only damage was a wrenched knee and a small abrasion.
Once we picked the bike up, we headed out on some very nice back roads
to Whites Ferry to take it across the Potomac to Leesburg where we were going to meet Karen at the IHOP.
We finally made it to the IHOP a tad late and Karen was waiting for us. We had a good non-fattening (snicker) breakfast with a very nice waiter who turned out to also be a biker. When we were getting ready to go, we all had to make a bathroom run. (Hey ... this is important) On the way there, these two ladies smiled at us and looked vaguely familiar. On the way back, they stopped us. It turns out that they recognized Karen’s MAWMR patch and were there as well. We talked for a short bit and naturally I invited them to join us.
At first they declined saying that they had too many errands to do. I laughed and pointed out how silly <G> it was to be doing errands on such a beautiful to day when they could be riding their bikes. Apparently they talked about it and as we were leaving, they suggested that they meet us up in Berkley Springs at 2 pm. Great. So plans were made and we headed off but not before a bike was dropped again. We we at a stoplight when all a sudden a little “AKKK” was uttered and the bike went down. This meant that the odds were that it would happen one more time as things tend to come in threes and there were three of us ... only one of whom had not dropped a bike.
The route we were taking was from a book of motorcycle routes so it was pre-planned for us. I had the GPS with me, but the route was not plotted in. (As soon as they come up with a decent planning program for the GPS, I’ll be first in line to buy it. Otherwise it’s a PITB to plot exact roads on a GPS). It basically called for us to take Rt 9 from Leesburg up to Pawpaw and then it gets convoluted.
Rt 9 is a beautiful road through rolling hills, small towns, and farmland.
Once we got to Berkley Springs, we parked the bikes and decided to wander around. It’s amazing how many bikers were using the day to do exactly what we were. It was a perfect day to go riding. Bright blue sky and not too hot. In any case, we wandered around Berkley Springs, going in to the little shops. Now one of the positive things about riding a motorcycle, is that it makes it difficult to buy too much as there is no place to haul it back. This did not stop me from buying stuff. Kim and Karen were much better.
We visited the “Baths” - the mineral springs .... and all of us kicked ourselves for not having brought a bathing suit ... or at least shorts. As we headed out to meet the two women, we got a phone call. One of them had blown a tire and so were unable to meet us.
We headed off with Karen in the lead. I hate being in the lead. We rode through some beautiful mountains with lots of curves. I kept wanting to stop and take a picture but there was no place to pull off. I did manage a few images but nothing that really captured the majesty of the scenery.
When we got to Pawpaw, we stopped and had lunch. It’s a tiny town and we asked at the gas station where there was someplace to eat. There are two restaurants in Pawpaw and we went to Grandmas Restaurant which happened to be right next door. It was in an old house with lots of old images on the wall. Apparently the Union troops occupied Pawpaw in the Civil War and currently there are about 500 people that live in the surrounding area.
Once we finished and made our way out of the gravel parking lot (Karen hates gravel), we headed to Oldtown, MD where we were supposed to turn off onto a different road. ... we missed the road. So I programed in the next town on the route into the GPS making sure that small roads were ok but NO dirt roads. The roads were very nice and we headed towards our destination where we were going to pick up the map directions once again when the GPS turned us off onto a smaller road. I suppose you could call it paved. It felt like it was paved 30 years ago but it was paved.
Then the pavement ended and the road turned into dirt with a little bit of gravel. The road was narrow, very steep, and very curvy ... had the road been paved, it would have been a fun road to ride. Did I mention that it wasn’t paved? And with the sun filtering through the leaves, the dark and light spots on the goat path ... errr ... county road made it very difficult to see where there was a pothole or groove in the road. On the other hand, the whole thing was one big pot hole and groove so I don’t know what I am complaining about. As I bounced up and down the road, gripping my handlebars and struggling not to let the bike tip over, all I could think of was “Karen is going to kill me. Karen is going to kill me.” I didn’t dare stop because I would have fallen over. I didn’t dare take my eyes off the road to check the rear view mirrors to check on Kim and Karen. I couldn’t turn around so I had to keep going. With all the banging and clanking I was doing, there was no way to hear whether or not there was banjo music playing in the background. Although had this been filmed, there certainly would have been. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, you need to see the movie “Deliverance”.) The path kept going and going and going and according to the GPS we were on a paved road. Eventually, I came to the top of a steep hill and down below me was a flat level area AND A PAVED ROAD with a house next to it in the middle of no where.
I get down to the road, stop the bike in the middle of it, put the kickstand down and just sat there shaking. It took a while for the handlebar curve to work it’s way out of my cramping hands. And I waited for Karen and Kim. And waited. And waited. And started to get worried. I really didn’t want to turn around and go back to try to find them. And waited. And waited. FINALLY they showed up, pulling up beside me, turning off their bikes and just sat there shaking. By this time, a nice old man came out of the house to check on these three wayward females on motorcycles that were parked in front of his house in the middle of nowhere. We told him what had happened and how the GPS thought it was a paved road. “But ma’am. According to the state of West Virginia, this is a paved road. We only got this hard top here last year.”
(note to anyone driving in West VA using a GPS, make sure that it says medium roads/Highways unless you two want to go 4 wheeling on county roads)
He asked where we were headed to and he said we were on the right road. He told us that when we got to the main road, take a left and it will lead us to the town. So we got back on our bikes and made our way down the PAVED road (note how one’s perception of what is paved vs not paved changes very rapidly). We took a left where he said we should and found ourselves on a much larger road ... with cars on it. <G> We followed the cars through a little tunnel to suddenly have the road end and it become dirt. The car in front of us continued on ... over the railroad tracks ... and we followed suit with much muttering and cursing only to arrive at .... a wooden bridge consisting of four boards for each tire.
A car was coming across the bridge towards us. As he got off the bridge, he stopped by us .... “Ladies, stay to the left. There are missing boards on the right hand side”. OK then. We continued across the bridge not breathing for fear of dumping the bikes in the river. It’s one thing to dump your bike on dry land, something totally different off of a bridge. Up a tiny incline there was ... a toll booth with a little old lady sitting inside.
“Where the *&^ are we?”, I asked her.
“In Old Town. Where are you trying to go?”
I told her and she said “Oh you’ve come the wrong way. It’s back there” pointing across the bridge.
I looked at her balefully.
“We have to go across bridge and the railroad tracks again, don’t we?”
“How much do we owe you for the toll?”
”25 cents each way”
I handed her the $1.50, did a U-Turn and headed across the bridge again.
Eventually we found our way back to the road we were supposed to be on.
We stopped for gas and by this time it was about 7pm. I called my folks to let them know that I was not going to be picking up Mazlon from them that night. When we stopped for gas about an hour later, it was getting dark. We decided to abandon the map and punch Whites Ferry into the GPS using MAJOR roads only. No point in a scenic drive if you can’t see anything. We followed the GPS onto Rt 55 then it turned us off onto a smaller road heading north, and then a smaller road heading north .... it was dark now and we were heading north into the mountains again on small windey mountain roads .... WITH NO STREET LIGHTS. Bugs were determined to commit suicide on my windshield and my face shield quickly came down. By this time it was darn right cold. Deer and possum were set on playing chicken on the roads ....did I mention there were no street lights? It was dark. I mean really dark. I’m sure that the ride was beautiful ... I just couldn’t see the side of the road. We finally found our way to civilization (aka roads with lights), caught 7 to Leesburg where Kim and I peeled off to Whites Ferry trying desperately to catch the last ferry at 2300. We did with four minutes to spare. We finally made it back to my place and pulled into the parking space at 2358 hours both thoroughly exhausted, sore, and cold. I convinced Kim not to continue on to her house as she was just too tired.
The next day ... none of us could move.
We’re getting old.
But it was a heck of a lot of fun. It was a challenging ride. What started out as an anticipated 5 hour ride turned into 15 hours. We were forced into riding situations that none of us had experienced before and rose to the challenge with flying colours and a good story. And now I can say that I got lost in the back roads of West Virginia.