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The First Guzzi on the USA Four Corners Tour

By Timothy Barlow

After doing Three Flags Classic two times prior, I heard about this USA Four Corners Tour that for all intended purposes is a self-guided tour around the far four corners of the US: Blaine, Washington; San Ysidro, California; Key West, Florida; and Madawaska, Maine. You can start at any corner or time you like, but you must finish all four corners within 21 days after you start. You can also take any route or roads you choose. Freeways, back roads, or even dirt and gravel roads, it’s all up to you. I tried to talk some of my friends into coming along. What a reaction I got. “How many miles? How many days of riding? Your just plain crazy.” You would’ve thought I had two heads by the way they looked at me when I suggested it. Well 2003 was the year to be the year even if I had to go it alone.

In planning for it, I needed to decide when the best time of the year to go would be.  I first looked for the longest daylight hours available for riding. That put me in mid-June. Then I looked at the weather. Turning to the MGNOC Contact Directory, I called two numbers in Maine to get advise on when was the earliest time for fair to good road conditions. Both people said end of May. Then I called my friend Mr. Ken Hand in Texas. Not only the heat was a concern, but also tornadoes scare the pants off of me. Seeing two funnel clouds one time riding into Norfolk, Virginia is far more than I ever care to encounter again. Another consideration was picking the off peak season to travel for not only cheaper hotel rates, but I would rather stop at the end of the day when I had to, not at a predetermined planned reservation. I’m not that organized!

Next thing was what bike to take out of my stable of possible touring machines: the BMW K bike, F650 BMW, GL 1800 Honda GoldWing, 1500 Honda Valkyrie, ’03 LeMans, or my ’99 EV11 Moto Guzzi. It had to be reliable and comfy. Hands down the EV11 was the best bike. Not to mention a number ten on the grin factor in fun to ride. When the road doesn’t entertain the motor and pipes do.

For the next three weeks I got it ready: a new Dunlap 491 on back, a four-gallon fuel cell on the back rack,  (I just hate to stop for fuel) oil, filter, all joints/wear points were cleaned oiled/greased, and adjust the valves.  Plus I packed an extra set of all cables and assorted zip ties carrying them in the right saddlebag under the dummy floor also two spark plugs, a H4 headlight bulb and a miniature role of duck tape. These I kept in the original boxes using double sided tape so I could stick them in the inside bulge of my HB saddlebag.

I originally thought I would complete the ride and be back home in two weeks, but my wife of 24 years said and I quote, “Your so cranky take three weeks not two.”

So there I had it from the boss three weeks time off with approval. The time was set with a window of the last week of May to mid-June with a very close eye on the weather channel looking for not only inland weather down south, but also the jet steam and the storms in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.

 Day one.  I got my window of good weather and left the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend for the first checkpoint in Blaine, Washington. Leaving home in Vancouver, Washington at 7am and after I had just past Kelso, Washington on I-5, I came upon thirty HDs riding in standard AMA formation. I just couldn’t resist. I laced them three times just to show them what they could be riding. I got thumbs ups and waves.  I then rolled on the throttle giving them an earful of that beautiful Guzzi music.  There is nothing quite like it.

 Just before I got to Seattle the gas warning light came on, so I reached back to turn the fuel cell valve on and within a few seconds the light went off. So cool, no stopping for gas as of yet. Proceeding on, the traffic was light in Seattle and I saw three Guzzis on the road. Giving me a nice warm feeling.

 Two hours later I got to Blaine, exit #276. I took a left to fill up with gas only some 300 miles from my morning start.  I got the cash receipt, a phone number, and asked where the post office and city hall were for the Polaroid photo with my bike out front for the required info for the checkpoint. Luckily they were all just a few blocks away. I filled out all info required for the checkpoint sheet that is provided: odometer reading, the date, gas receipt, Polaroid of my bike by a town landmark, and a phone number from the town. Then I signed my name, and dropped it in the mailbox at the post office.  One checkpoint down and three more to go.

I headed off back home after putting on the rain gear as it was starting to rain. Going back through Seattle I saw two more Guzzis on the road.  Cool! Little known to me at that time it wouldn’t be until Florida before I would see another Guzzi on the road again.  Getting home to Vancouver, I checked out everything finding only one left valve cover was weeping a very little bit. Other than that everything was perfect.

Day two. 5am I replaced both valve cover gaskets although a little grease would have probably been fine, just wanted to be sure. I packed nine days worth of clothes, kissed the wife, and I was off.  I filled up with gas before I hit I-5 south and noticed it was only 39 degrees, burr. It started to rain when I got to Cottage Grove, Oregon, so I pulled off to put on my rain gear.

When I got off the bike I noticed the fuel cell was almost off the bike going sideways. Good thing I stopped! After three zip ties around the fuel shut off valve and through the backrest bolt hole, (I removed the back rest before I left, less weight) I was on the road again. I stopped about 50 miles later to check the fuel cell again, anchored good, no more problems.

When I got to the Oregon border town of Ashland it was time to fill up again, cheaper gas compared to California prices. It was still a little drippy and some fog, but it had warmed up to 48 degrees. I double-checked the full cell, bags, tires, everything still a-okay.

As soon as I got to the top of the Siskiyou Summit, I was in California yahoo, home of sunshine, lane splitting, and tar snakes. They are slick when it’s hot and like ice when it’s raining. Lucky for me it was all blue sky and 70 degrees. I stopped in Dunsmuir to take off the rain gear and the long underwear. It's amazing what a difference one mountain range will make.

Proceeding south it was a fun stretch of freeway with lots of high-speed sweepers all the way to Redding. I was thinking to myself, I hope Mother Aprilia knows what she has here. In my opinion it’s the perfect bike. The handling, the feel, the sound. O yes, that beautiful Guzzi music. The character of the motor, when the grade is higher or there’s a heavy head wind, there is that little extra rumble you get, just to let you know all squirrels are on line and working good. Of course we can’t forget the style; there is nothing like our Italian stallions. They are rolling works of art.  Italians have a flair for life that really comes through in their machines, such as Ferrari, Bugatti, Lamborghini and of course my much loved Moto Guzzi. In a world full of HD clones, Guzzi truly stands out.

Coming up on Redding the mercury was rising fast. I pulled into Red Bluff for removal of my sweater. After a stretch of the legs, I proceeded to Sacramento where my sister resides, for that free food and room for the night. What can I say? I’m a cheap date. I pull in Sis’s at 5pm and wash the bike. It would be the last chance for a good cleaning for a while.

Day three. I waited till 7:00am before leaving Sis’s house. They are late sleepers. I filled up just before the onramp and headed west on US-80 to pick up 99 south. Well it wasn’t until Dixon when I noticed I missed the exit. Oh well, I did a loop around the next exit.  Heading back in the fast lane was a HD riding two up. He wanted to race. At 80 mph I dropped to fourth and blew him off the road. Obviously not what he was expecting. Amazing how our stock Guzzis will run circles around the big HDs even after they spend $10,000 on the motor. I found 99 South then stopped at Denny’s in Fresno for their $2.99 original Slam. It’s hard to beat the price, easy in and out. Not to mention it literally sticks to you ribs.

Next stop for gas Bakersfield. I stopped, filled up and shed my sweater. Proceeding south on 99, I met back up with I-5 south, and headed up the Grape Vine, about a 4200 ft pass. The posted speed is 55 mph, but you better do 90 or get run over. A warning reader board read “Construction Magic Mtn.” Sure enough there was a back up of a good ten miles. Traffic was not going anywhere none too fast. 

Sitting in the second to the fast lane, I heard a bunch of racket coming up from behind. Wouldn’t you know it here comes a whole line of HDs lane splitting, twenty-one to be exact. It was like Moses parting the Red Sea. All the cars moved over a good two feet. I’ve never done this lane-splitting thing and always thought you had to be insane to attempt it, but then looking at the stop and go traffic for as far as the eye could see, you guessed it, I fell in just behind them. For the next ten miles I was in the back of these Hogs grunting and snorting doing a good 20 to 30 mph pace. What a Country!

Soon after Magic Mtn. the construction was done. It was like racehorses being let out the gate. Back up to 90 mph. Coming up on Oceanside, the temperature dropped to 67 degrees with light fog. Stopping to put on my sweater once again, I proceeded to the San Ysidro Commercial Truck Exit. I looped around to San Ysidro Blvd. filled up the bike, and collected all required info to drop off at the post office. Two checks point down, two more to go.

Feeling a bit groggy from staying up late visiting with Sis I stopped for a bite to eat at Cisco’s just up the street.  After a full tummy and a stretch of the legs I got on I-5 North to San Diego. Taking I-8 east it turned into nice rolling green hills once I got out of town. About an hour later I descended sharply through some rock walls on both sides of the road. The temperature must have risen 25-30 degrees in two miles. I could feel the heat radiating from the walls. By the time I got to El Centro it was dark. I pulled off seeing Motel 6 and gas sign and topped off the fuel, not knowing when the station opened in the morning.

Day three. Getting up at 3:30 am I check out the weather channel.  First thing it tells me there’s a heat wave with Tucson at 104. To burn up dark not daylight I decided to eat breakfast early at the Denny’s across the street. You guessed it, the Original Slam. I got on I-8 east by 5:00.  Coming to I-10 I headed east. By the time I got to Tucson it was already 104 at 10:00. Traffic not bad, some construction, no back up though thank you. Much too hot for stop and go today. I proceeded to Benson to fill up. When I got back on I-10 east I was faced with a head wind of about 20 mph.

Stopping at the rest stop, just before Lordsburg, NM to stretch the legs and have some much needed H2O, I noticed the oddest thing.  All the tables were enclosed with an outside wall all the way around the perimeter with a red tiled roof. Pretty fancy, must be for protection from the heat and dust storms.

Proceeding I-10 east through New Mexico it looked just like Arizona, very dry and straight, maybe a little flatter. Just before El Paso, Texas I stopped for fuel being 5:00 and rush hour. I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic low on fuel. Going through the city I saw Texas stars all over everything. Overpasses in three different colors of pastels and of course more Texas stars. Very decorative retaining walls in more pastels. Texas drivers are the most courteous I have ever found in the lower 48 states. Going through was a snap!

About one hour out of El Paso I stopped at a rest stop to get rid of some H2O and take on more. I found the restrooms in an adobe building that curiously it had no roof on it, except for over the stalls. It was very clean. I wondered how it was in the heavy rain and dust storms though without a roof. On to I-10 east until Fort Stockton where I checked into a Motel 6, then over to the truck stop for a chef salad and to fill up.

Day four. I arise at 3:30 and check the weather channel. Good weather again all day with mid 80s. On to I-10 east by 4:30. Lucky for me, I found a rabbit right off the bat (a speeding vehicle). I gave them half a mile lead ahead of me, and then we were off down the road. I kept a good eye on his taillights as we cruised at 85 to 95 mph and made good time, thank you. I lost him 200 miles down the road at Junction, TX, but only six miles further coming out of Segoia, there was another one at 80 to 85 mph. This one was a big suburban.

By Kerrville, I was ready for more fuel. Higher speeds you just need to stop more for fuel, Bummer! And it was time for a bite to eat at Wendy’s. I like their 99cent menu double stack cheeseburger, fries, and water. Only $1.98+ tax. That’s only $5.00 and change for the day for food. Did I tell you I was a cheap date? Back on I-10 east.

Stopping at Frydek to top off with fuel and some Mountain Dew Code Red (it’s like drinking three cups of coffee) before entering Houston, I gave the original "Highmiler" Mr. Ken Hand a call. Sounding a bit perturbed that I didn’t let him know sooner that I was coming by so he could meet me, he gave me MPH Cycle’s (his favorite Guzzi Dealer) phone number so I could call for directions to their shop. He warned me not to enter Houston before 2:00 am, that’s right morning time.

I called MPH and got directions and off I went. MPH Cycle being on the west side of Houston just off I-10 worked out fine. I pulled into their shop at 4:00 pm straight up. They had some new bikes parked in front of the shop and one blue EV Touring on the showroom floor. To the right was a nice young lady greeting me. I introduced myself as a friend of Ken’s and asked if they would mind if I hung around a couple of hours for the rush hour traffic to die down. "Sure no problem,” she said.

Looking around I found some neat Guzzi stuff: suspenders, T-shirts, decals and other bits. They cheerfully shipped them out for me. Except for the suspenders, which I needed right then, thank you very much! Middle age bulge you see. I met Todd and Mike Haven, two brothers and owners of the shop, very nice people. Todd insisted I park my bike in back under cover and out of the sun. He then showed me around their shop, which was so clean you could eat off the floor. I had no idea being a friend of Ken’s would get me so much mileage. It looks, as though their main business is service and repair of high-end import cars and SUVs.

Six o’clock came around and Todd and Mike wished me good luck and I was off through Houston on I-10 east. Traffic wasn’t bad for a rush hour, again very courteous Texas drivers. Coming out of Lafayette, Louisiana, there is a 29-mile long bridge spanning the Atchafalaya Basin. My friend John Crusher warned me about this bridge being covered with large Cottonmouth snakes.  There were no snakes in sight so I proceeded across keeping my feet up anyway and stopped in Baton Rouge for the night. I called John that evening on his snake stories and asked where the best place was that served etouffe, a Cajun dish with rice, mud bugs, and spices. He said I would have to return through the Cottonmouth gantlet to Picadillys in Lafayette. I’ll save it for the next trip thank you John!

        Day five. It was a sunny day and I got on the road by 6:00.  I decided to take a side road after seeing a big chunk out of I-10 the night before that would have swallowed up my front wheel. I thought I was on 18. Big mistake. I got lost. Bigger mistake, I ask a good old boy and his wife for directions and a good place to eat breakfast. Have you ever heard of the directions that go something like turn left at the red barn that burned down fifteen years ago than go for a spell turning right at the barking yellow dog? Before then I only thought this was a joke. He was right on one thing though; Mickie Dees does have the best biscuits and gravy in town.

In back tracking my way to I-10, I noticed several cemeteries. All the graves were above ground incased in concrete. Must be because of the high water table.  Finding I-10 east, I tried to get off three times in New Orleans (construction everywhere) only to head out of town frustrated.

When I got to Mobile, Alabama I found the Battleship Memorial Park. On display was the Mighty Battleship USS Alabama (BB-60), Submarine USS Drum (SS-228), B-52D “Calamity Jane”, my favorite the A-12 Blackbird Spyplane, and much more.

While I was taking photos an English gent walked up looking at my EV and said, “A Moto Guzzi,” and asked me if they were better than BMWs or Hondas?

I replied. “I own three BMWs and two big flat six-cylinder Hondas. They are all back home. What am I riding today?”

He told me I would have to come over to the Isle of Man races where the very rare V8 Guzzi makes two passes every year.  He also warned me to make reservations three months in advance just for the ferry. Myself being a lover of old Guzzis as well and owning a number of old Guzzi singles, it’ll be a must do some day.

Back to I-10 east, I then got on 87 south then 98 east. Coming up on Sunnyside, Florida it was stop and go forever and I found myself wishing I was on my Convert. It wasn’t until about twenty-five miles before Mexico Beach it let up and I could see the water again. So I stopped for the night. It’s a nice little beach town with a slow pace and sandy beaches.

Day six. Waking up to a beautiful sunny day and on the road by 6:00. Yes I’m sleeping in now; I’m on holiday right, slow down, stop and smell some roses.  Heading south toward Apalachicola, just before town I found the Red Top Restaurant. It’s a mom and pop place. Curiously every menu item was rounded off to the nearest dollar. I had the most delicious breakfast ever; two pecan pancakes, sausage patties, and whole milk for $4.00. I continued on hwy 98 south to Apalachicola, a historic town with of course many nice old buildings, plus a cool bridge with a beautiful view of the Gulf at the end of town.

Halfway down to Parry, I stopped at a Kmart for a new 35mm camera. I thought just the 35mm camera I brought from home went bad, but unknown at that time the last two rolls I took were toast as well. Coming out of Kmart there were three HDs, with three people watching the bikes while one was inside looking for parts.

Puzzled and looking at my fuel cell, they asked “What’s that?”

“A fuel cell,” I answered, “it lets me go 300 to 350 miles before I need to stop for fuel.”

“No.”

“Yes,” I replied.

“We stop every 50 to 75 miles. Where you headed?” they asked.

“Key West tonight,” I said. 

They just shook their heads.

Heading south to Perry on 98 hwy, I got on I-275 freeway at St. Petersburg then I-75 south to Naples. I missed my turn off to hwy 951 and went up to the tollbooth for Alligator Alley.  I thought LA drivers were bad. I was doing 110 mph and still getting pass like I was standing still from Mercedes, BMWs, and Porsches.

I got off some 21 miles down the road at hwy 29 to pick up hwy 41east going through Cypress Natl. Preserve and Everglades Natl. Park where I saw alligator road kill. Good thing someone else hit it and not me. I can’t image it. My Guzzi would probably just make them mad then I’d be gator lunch. There were a number of camping places along the way. Must be only for the very brave.

Taking hwy 997 south, I followed a police car just ahead going ten over the posted speed all the way to Homestead where I stopped to fuel up. I proceeded on to hwy 1, a narrow road with no shoulders, for 25 miles until I got to Key Largo. From that point on it was highly patrolled, mostly a two-lane road with lots of bridges. They tell me the patrolling is because they like to keep the road open, no wrecks here please! But going ten over is OK as I found out earlier. I crossed over Seven-mile Bridge, which is just that seven miles long.

Then three cars came right up on my tail. So seeing five miles ahead with no cops I wick it up to 75. Still on my tail. Then 85. By this time the bridge is about up, so I slow down to 65. As soon as the bridge was up it went to four lanes, and all three cars passed. I gave them the regular 1/4 to 1/2 mile lead watching their taillights going down the road at 90mph.  Over the next bridge, I slow way down knowing that it's a good place for a speed trap just at the end of a bridge.  Sure enough he was waiting.  He spun around and pulled over all three cars looking very much like he lost his sense of humor when he got out of his car. I putt on by.

It was getting a little dark by this time so I pulled into Key West, and got a room at The Blue Lagoon Resort. There where five Macaws in two big cages in front of the office. I had been feeling a little home sick for sometime now missing my own bird Peaches, a ten year old Moluccan Cockatoo, so after checking in I visited with the macaws for a while.

Feeling much better I headed off to the room. It had a ceramic tiled floor, a bit odd but nice. I was then off to the motels restaurant for their all you can eat Moi (a Hawaiian fish) and Key Lime pie, the best ever.

Day seven. It was 98 degrees and muggy at 6:00. I found the post office, but the sign had too many plants for a good photo. I rode around and found a good sign in front of the Naval Branch Medical Clinic of Key West. I explained to the officer at the gate what I was up to (being 9-11 aftermath) and they said okay. Filling everything out on the checkpoint sheet I dropped it in the mail. Three down one more to go.

Heading back out I was glad I had the fuel cell.  Gas was double the mainland price. I stopped for some photos on both sides of the road.  The Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic on the other side looking exactly the same to me, like one big lake. Later I learned it’s only four feet deep in most places except where it is dredged for a channel for the big ships. At Florida City I stopped to fuel up and saw a green V11 Sport go by, cool! 

Staying on hwy 1 until I got to Kendall I hopped onto I-95 north. Miami is nuts! I encountered four Ricky Road Racers lacing all seven lanes.  At the north end I picked up a red GL 1500 in tow. It was a bit windy coming from the west. When we got to Fort Pierce he came along side pointing at his dummy fuel tank. I wave (fuel tanks on the GL 1500s are under the seat) and he pulled off to fill up. I reached back and turn the fuel cell valve on and didn’t stop for fuel some 132 miles later when I reached Daytona Beach.

By this time heavier crosswinds were coming from the west 30 to 35 mph. When this happens I find a truck or SUV to draft right off the back wheel some five to eight feet back in the opposed lane. Some don’t like that so it’s nip and tuck for a while until you find a willing participant. Soon I found what looks to be some rock star’s bus from Canada. It’s the best being very large and private buses usually run better tires, not recaps in the back, safer no gators coming off.

Soon after crossing the border into Fairmont, North Carolina, I realized I was just through Georgia. Getting a little hungry, having not eaten since the night before, I found a Denny’s. Looking at the map I was hoping to reach Richmond, Virginia for the night. No luck. It began to rain with lightning. Time to stop for it’s not a good idea to ride in lightning.  I found the next motel, an Econo Lodge in Fayetteville for only $27 with tax, also the nicest room so far.  Such a deal!

Day eight. Checking out the weather channel, I found NY City had 35mph winds with a promise of gale force winds to be in the 90s by afternoon. So I figured, I could get to Richmond then wait it out in a motel or head north to Cleveland, Ohio. Being I was on holiday to ride my Guzzi instead of sitting in a room, north it was to Cleveland. 

On the road by 7:00 I headed west on hwy 401 to Laurinburg then on 74 west, to Charlotte.  I stopped for breakfast in a neat old town. I picked up I-77 north. I-77 in West Virginia is a beautiful stretch of road, but as soon as I’d get into the road, there would be a tollbooth. I got in line paid the toll and I was off only to find another tollbooth then another. Not used to this being from the northwest I found it odd and a waste of fuel waiting in line on a freeway at a tollbooth. By the time I got to Cleveland, Ohio the temperature had dropped to the lower forties.

Picking up I-90 east, I got a bit of a chill so I stopped early in Erie, Ohio, with the temperature sitting at 39 degrees. Motel 6 $58.00 for a single. Ouch!

        Day nine. Not ever seeing Lake Erie before and in need of a fluid change, I had my marching orders for the day. 7:30 I got started out to see the waterfront. Finding the Erie Maritime Museum closed. I snapped a few shots outside then on I went in search of a fluid change. Stopping at two oil places they told me they only did cars and trucks. I found a HD reseller who only did Harley’s, but they were nice enough to give me directions to Uncommon Motorcycles.  They are east of Erie on route 20.

By the time I got there it was 11:30. I walked into one of the best-stocked Guzzi Dealers I’ve ever seen.  I asked for the owner Peter Askey and explained my situation. Would you believe he had the only mechanic in the place roll a Duck off the lift and do my fluid change on the spot with no advance notice.  Now that’s service. Good people guys! It so happens he used to have a Mercedes dealership now retired to motorcycles. No wonder the excellent service. In chatting with Peter, I learned he has always had a passion for motorcycles beginning in the 60s when he rode a Duck. In appreciation for all they did for me, I bought a bunch of Guzzi stuff and had them send it to me. Thank you. Would you like to set up a dealership in Vancouver, WA? I was out by 12:30 to pick up I-90 east. 

Not far into NY there was a tollbooth. Here they just handed me a slip of paper then I didn’t pay the actual toll until I got off the toll way. Interesting concept here in NY. I pay for the building and maintaining of this federally funded freeway, sorry toll way, through my federal tax dollars and you charge me to drive on it? It also so happens they are in much worse shape then our “free” freeways out west. Another interesting thing is the rest stops are like mini malls along with one gas station.  But if you need to park for a while for a nap or something you pull off into a parking area that most of the time doesn’t even have a port-a-potty. 

At Syacuse, NY, I got on I-81 north to Watertown then I hung a right on hwy 3 east. I found a Denny’s just off the toll way for a bite. Heading east the countryside is beautiful, nice green hills, dense pine and hardwood trees, winding roads with lots of streams and lakes; the kind of road Guzzis are made for. The guardrails are made of two cables stretched through steel posts. Mustn’t miss a corner or you’ll be sliced cheese here. You’ll also find a lot of neat old architecture and waterwheels for power and gristmills.

Coming into Lake Placid, I was expecting somewhat of a little resort town. Wrong! It’s an old community with lots of large historic buildings. One of only three communities in the world to hosted two Olympics Winter Games, 1932 and 1980. It was almost dangerous for me rubber necking at all the cool old architecture while I was riding through this part of the country. Eye candy everywhere you look.

 It was getting dark as I headed on to hwy 86 to Jay then 9N to Keeseville. I rode on up to the ferry to see what the departure time was. I had just missed the last run of the day by 30 minutes and the first morning run was at 9:00. I headed back to Keeseville for the night.

Day ten. 7:00 and a beautiful sunny day. I adjusted the valves on the Guzzi before leaving the motel. Heading to the ferry just before turning off the main road, I crossed a bridge, wow! I pulled a Ue and went back. It was Ausable Chasm!  Breathtaking to say the least with towering cliff walls, multiple waterfalls, looks to be two very old powerhouses with one primitive stone gristmill barely hanging off the east rock wall. I thought to myself, how in the world did they even get down there let alone get the flour topside.

While waiting for the ferry to cross Lake Champlain to Burlington, Vermont I met a nice gent, an airline pilot, and his wife riding a GL1800 Gold Wing from Florida City, Florida.  They told me I had just missed a storm that had gone through Jacksonville, Florida two weeks earlier. They received 12.75” of rain in 24 hours, 6.85” of that in three hours. Lucky me Aye?

When I reached Burlington I got on I-89 south to Montpelier, Vermont’s capital.  With only a population of 8,100, it’s the nation’s smallest capital city and has one of the neatest looking old capital buildings I’ve ever seen. Colonel Davis, one of the town founders, built the first log cabin here in 1787. The history abounds everywhere in this part of our great nation.

I then got back on hwy 2 east, a nice country road with a lot of small home businesses and everywhere you look you see signs advertising maple syrup for sale. I was beginning to think that at any moment around the next bend there would be the Stratford Inn, with Larry, Darrel and Darrel across the street.

Crossing into New Hampshire and staying on hwy 2, the country looked much like Vermont, mostly broadleaf trees with well-kept farms and houses. By the time I reached Maine it hit me, I had been in four states already and had just been putt putting around only for a day. Staying on 2, my mouth began to water for live Maine lobster.

Suddenly I headed the Guzzi south on 27 through Augusta, the state capital.  I just kept heading south until I couldn’t go any farther, reaching Boothbay Harbor, pop. 1,237, and a quaint old harbor town very clean and well kept. I rode around until I found Lobstermen’s Co-op. It’s on the north end of the bay. No frills here just the freshest lobster and steamers you will ever find, coming right from the fisherman’s boat to you on the dock. I stopped, ordered two, two lb. lobsters and a sack of stemmer’s for only thirty bucks. You wait a spell for the cooking then they hand it to you on a platter with one shell cracker, four garlic butters, and five moist hand wipes. Again no frills, you’re just on the dock eating on a picnic table that over looks the bay. Never have I had steamers or live lobster a tenth as good as this. This alone was worth the ride. I met a nice retired couple there who every year start in Key West eating seafood all the way up the eastern seaboard then stay in Maine eating lobster four times a day for two months straight. I can’t wait for my retirement.

After the meal, I literally waddled to the nearest motel that overlooked the bay paying $115.00 and well worth it. I sat down to call the wife and some friends, Steve Ford for one, who told me his father-in-law lived there in town and had an empty apartment I could have stayed in for free.

“Now you tell me!” I said.

“But you never told me you where going to be down there,” Steve answered.

I find riding by the seat of my pants to be the most rewarding. Go with the flow, live free when I’m on holiday.

        Day eleven. Heading out at 7:00, I decided to stay close to the water and run up to Acadia Nat’l Park. On the way I found navigating the back country roads a bit challenging, having up to three road numbers for the same road and when you come up on a cross road it doesn’t tell you what road number is north, south, east, or west. To complicate matters more after you make your turn maybe 1/4 mile down the road you will find a sign with the names of the towns but no posted miles. Whether it is two miles or twenty to the town, not a clue. I did find what must be one of the smallest lighthouses ever though, Marshall Point Lighthouse and Museum. It was established in 1832 with the present lighthouse built in 1857. Curiously, the two-story keeper’s house built in 1895 stands higher than the lighthouse itself.

Moving on, I reached Acadia. It’s comprised of about 47,000 acres. I rode up to Cadillac summit, the highest point of the park at 1,530 feet.  You can see for miles beautiful, aquamarine-colored waters, Cranberry Isles, Atlantic Ocean, and Frenchman Bay. As beautiful as it is, it’s still no match for our Puget Sound out west. On the way out I stopped in Bar Harbor, nice old buildings, but kind of a tourist trap.

As it was getting late I headed back out state 3 then 1 ALT to pick up I-95 north. I got off at state 1 north, a rather long and flat landscape I would say with lots of farming going on there. Just before Presque Isle, I stopped for a room at the Northern Lights Motel, a mom and pop ownership and super nice people to boot. I got a good clean room for $39.00.  When I asked where a laundry mat was, (packing for nine days and being now day ten I was down to my swim trunks) the owner called downtown to get their hours. Closed drats! I’d have to do it in the morning. He also told me of a good place to eat, The Generals, where I had a super meal. I’ve never seen a place that had a Lionel railroad running through the dining room and walls up topside, a nice touch.

        Day twelve. I slept in until 8:00; the laundry mat opened at 9:00 am. While eating the continental breakfast supplied by the motel, I chatted with the owner and learned he was stationed in Tillamook, Oregon in his service days. Small world don’t you think, Tillamook only being one hundred miles from my home? They also warned me about the moose. It so happens that the state of Maine has more fatalities between moose and autos than autos to autos. He explained to me that the moose like to eat the grass growing along side the road. It has salt on it from d eicing the winter roads. When the moose sees you they step back then charge.

On to the town of Presque Isle. It’s a neat place some 10,500 in population and with the University of Maine setting on 150 acres looking over the town’s rolling hills and potato fields. At the laundry mat I met a rather grumpy lady attendant. She finally warmed up to me after finding out I was from Vancouver, Washington. Not believing I rode my bike, I showed her Polaroids of my three previous checkpoints. In amazement she then proceeded to tell everyone in the place.

All of them came over to chat for a bit and asked, “You are from where? You rode a bike all the way from where? Where are you going now? What is a Moto Guzzi?” Enviously they congratulated me on the trip.

While the clothes were drying, I walked over to McDonald’s across the parking lot.  Looking at the menu I saw a lobster roll for my snack. You can literally get lobster anywhere in Maine. I went back to the laundry mat, rolled up my clothes tightly, put them in my HB liner, changed into some clean clothes, then was off to the last check point only 59 miles away.

Coming into Madawaska, 3,650 population, there was no band playing, not even a banner just another beautiful sunny day on a Guzzi. I saw the Safety Complex Police/Ambulance on the right. A photo event, then on to gas up. 

When I pulled in the attendant came out and said,  “You’re on the Four Corners ride.”

“Wow, how can you tell?” I said.

“You just look that way. Besides there were three ahead of you this morning.”

Getting directions to the post office and getting all required info in the provided envelope, I took it inside the post office, handed the man behind the window the envelope, he stamped it, Hurray! I was done. All the far four corners of the USA, some total 7,374 miles in a lazy twelve days, with nine more days to spare. And first one to complete the tour on a Moto Guzzi. A piece of cake, anyone can do it. I saw a lot of beautiful country, met some really neat people, got many new experiences and had some great food. The EV11 ran perfect. Of course it’s a Guzzi. I can’t imagine a better bike suited for this trip. How can life possibly get any better?

 

Next, the trip home!

 

   Ciao,

     Timothy Barlow


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