Tag: Equinox to Equinox

Equinox to Equinox Rally: Oversized Roadside Extravaganza

Equinox to Equinox Rally: Oversized Roadside Extravaganza

When the Equinox to Equinox Rally kicked off on the first day of spring, it seemed like we had all the time in the world to ride around and collect points. After all, the autumnal equinox and the close of the rally was months away!

As it turns out, people get busy, they forget, things come up and weeks will tick by when you don’t collect a single bonus. Guilty as charged.

For the past 2 weekends I’ve had a free day to go out riding. While I’ve been out I have managed to pick up some points along the way. Keeping my rally placard in the trunk definitely helps.

Speaking of my flag – it has taken a bit of a beating over these few months. But, other than having one of it’s ears slightly torn it has held up to the trunk-test. Mounting it on cardboard and wrapping it in packing tape have really done the trick.

Equinox to Equinox Rally Flag

Let’s Get Some Points, Shall We?

My travels over the last two weekends took me through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In covering that ground you could pick off post offices and firehouses all day long. But as strange as it may sound, stopping is the hardest part. You’re out on your bike and the desire to ride trumps the desire to win. So, you sail right by bonus points all day long.

Given my interest in roadside Americana, my favorite categories for the E2E Rally are: Oversized Roadside Statues, Covered Bridges and Static Trains – with a side helping of Historical Landmarks and Cemeteries over 100 Years Old. Luckily, these are high point stops for the rally. That means I get to marry my interests in riding to the object, seeing it and collecting points.

This past weekend I kicked off my day out with a nice breakfast at the Clinton Station Diner. The most delicious 7 points of the day.

Clinton Station Diner - Clinton New Jersey

Somehow I managed to rope my husband Kenny in to coming along with me. You’d think after all these years together, he would have learned his lesson when my alarm clock goes off on the weekend but, nope… he still rides with me.

Once in a while he stands in and models for me, too. I’ll take superstrong hubby lifting giant barbells for 7 points, Alex.

giant barbells in quakertown pennsylvania

On Saturday night we were at a birthday party. While there, someone asked what we would be doing the following day.

“I think we’re going to go check out some giant barbells,”  I answered.

“Giant barbells. Of course,” he said.

No surprise there. 🙂

Double Indian Points

Getting to see 2 giant roadside indians for 14 points? Not a bad deal, I’d say.

muffler man indian mohawk motors shirley massachusetts

Plus, the giant chief that stands at the Big Indian Shop in Shelburne Falls, Ma. is just east of a smokin’ section of route 2 from North Adams. That’s a great ride.

shelburne falls big indian gift shop

Have a Seat …or Two

You know, you can go a whole lifetime without ever seeing a giant chair on the road. That is unless you live near Gardner, Massachusetts. But, I guess that’s to be expected from a place called ‘The Chair City.’

double giant chairs

They Do Exist!

Oversized Roadside? Yea, I think I have that category covered. In the most yummy way possible!

The facade of Mars Chocolate in Hackettstown, New Jersey has giant M&Ms that greet you at the front door. Not only are they squeal-worthy fabulous but they’re also good for 7 points.

Giant M&Ms in Hackettstown New Jersey

During their last podcast, James & Chris mentioned that I was riding in first place on points. But they also mentioned that there were tons of pictures still in the queue to be processed. Knowing what I submitted – which hasn’t been that many this summer- I don’t think i’ll be staying there for long.

We’ll see.

In the meantime – I’ll just keep enjoying the ride.

Double Caboose Breakfast in Connecticut

Double Caboose Breakfast in Connecticut

For all my talk about planning and looking for things to visit while I’m stuck at my desk, it sure seems like I am able to stumble across a lot of great things just by simply riding around and keeping my eyes open.

Sunday was a bit on the chilly side. Of course that meant a perfect opportunity to torture Kenny by dragging him out to breakfast 150 miles away.

collins diner north canaan connecticut

The lovely Collin’s Diner in North Canaan, Connecticut is nestled between not 1 but 2, yes 2 cabooses (caboosii?).

I had no idea – it was just a lucky break.

yellow caboose north canaan

I’d call that a win, wouldn’t you? Delicious breakfast in the type of diner where the waitresses call you “hon” and 14 E2E static train points.

For whatever reason, the static train is one of my favorite categories in the Rally. I’m kind of surprised that I never really took note of just how many train cars are sitting idle before now.

red caboose north canaan

Along our route into Connecticut we passed many opportunities to collect points for the E2E Rally. But I just didn’t feel like stopping for them. I find it much more difficult to stop and monkey around on the side of the road when I’m traveling with someone.

Instead I filed some things away for ‘later’ when I have time to see them on my own. This of course goes against my resolution for the New Year. What can I say? I live on the edge. I’m a rule breaker.

Later today I may even run with scissors.

American Gothic, A Big Banana Split and Tiger Troubles

American Gothic, A Big Banana Split and Tiger Troubles

On Saturday I meant to just duck out for a few hours before the rest of the family got up. I figured I could buzz out to New Jersey, see the giant tooth and be back home by lunch time.

But, plans changed back at home and so I stayed out longer than I originally anticipated. It was cool but sunny, so I was only too happy to be exploring.

I lingered around near the Grounds for Sculpture to see ‘America the Beautiful,’ an homage to Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

grounds for sculpture America the Beautiful

And the dancers across the way…

I was flittering about exploring old cemeteries, looking for parked trains and other roadside odds and ends.

big banana split

In the process of doubling back to take a picture of a boat-sized banana split, a lady who decided that she didn’t need to use her mirrors or her eyeballs while behind the wheel decided to back up in the parking lot without looking. She came within inches of knocking me over. I went to honk my horn and… nothing? What the hell?

In that immediate irrational thinking moment, I figured I just didn’t hear the horn because I had music on and the wind was blowing. It seemed impossible that the horn wouldn’t work. But, hey, guess what? When I pressed the button again? Nada.

Ever the optimist, I thought it had to be a fuse or something. I resigned myself to taking a look at it when I got home and went on about my day.

My Tiger Isn’t Feeling Well

Never once did I consider that along with my horn, none of my lights would be working either. I rode around for the whole day? Part of the day? Who knows – with no headlight and no tail/brake light. Scary!

The dashboard was fully lit up, the sun was up and so I didn’t pick up any visual cues that I had a greater problem. Now in hindsight I realize I could have looked for my own headlight reflection in the back on another car. But I didn’t. My life is a cautionary tale.

When I got home, Kenny immediately started poking around on my bike while I shed my gear. If you allow the bars to sit at straight ahead, unturned position – the lights and horn failed. If the bars were turned the bars to the right – everything worked. Turn to the left, nothing.

the thingyI don’t want you guys to think I’ve gone all smart and stuff so I will be using my usual technical language here.

There is a “thingy” below the ignition key tumbler that seems to be the culprit. If you press it up towards the key, everything works with the bars in any position. If you don’t press that “thingy” everything only works when the bars are turned to the right.

I’ve got to call the dealer tomorrow to see if I can get my bike in ASAP.

In the meantime, Kenny has cleared his Tiger for me to use – you know – if I should find myself in some type of rally emergency situation where I need to visit a giant elephant in south Jersey or something.

I have to say, it’s kind of handy having a husband that rides, too. 🙂

 

Photo Rally Bonus Hunting – Links, Books, Google Maps

Photo Rally Bonus Hunting – Links, Books, Google Maps

With photo bonus rallies being in the forefront of my riding-mind lately, I thought I would offer up some of the resources that I use to find interesting locations to ride to and places to see.

Blogs, Websites & Books

There are so many corners of the internet that can help to fuel your desire to get out and explore. The following books, blogs and websites  are just some of the ones I find helpful in searching for places to visit.

Blogs & Websites Books

I have also found that searching sites like Flickr, Pinterest, ADVRider also offer some good inspiration for thing to research and visit.

If you have a location in mind that you’d like to visit, chamber of commerce, city or town websites often prove to be good places to look for historical landmarks.

You can also try Googling for interesting KML files and maps. For example – say you’re interested in Old Long Island Burial Grounds. Perhaps someone has already done the work for you and was kind enough to share it with the world.

Sure, nothing beats good old fashioned riding by the seat of your pants, serendipity and exploring – but these links might help you get on the road to something you hadn’t thought of before.

Google Maps

If you’re anything at all like me, you spend an awful lot of time sitting at a desk each week. During these (seemingly endless) hours, my mind wanders to thoughts of places that I’d like to ride to.

And… just as soon as the ideas enter my mind, it seems they’re on the way out again. So, I’ve taken to marking these spots onto a custom Google Map. I then export the placemarks and put the waypoints into my GPS.

Creating Custom Google Maps

Google offers the following video on creating your own maps:

After you’ve created your custom map, you can go back and add, delete and edit entries at any time. Just select your maps from ‘My Places’ on the left hand side of your GMaps screen.

I created a map for the E2E Rally that I keep adding placemarks to so I don’t forget where I want to go. Eventually.

Example Google Map with Placemarks

Just something to keep in mind when using Google Maps – if you just enter a word or phrase like saaaay – “post office” into the search field, it will pop up a ton of locations that you can then click and Save to Map.

search for locations

That makes finding specific things and saving them to your map a snap.

example save to map

GPSVisualizer – Convert KML to GPX

[edit] WOOHOO! The 4/1/13 Basecamp update provides KML support!

Google Maps allows you to export your custom map points out to a KML file. Since I cannot use a KML file in Garmin’s BaseCamp to ultimately load into my Zumo 665, I need to convert the KML file to a GPX file.

For that I use the great GPSVisualizer website.

On the surface it might sound like a lot of work, but it takes about 3 minutes to get your Google Maps KML, convert it to GPX and load it into BaseCamp.

Garmin BaseCamp

When I have a GPX file, I then drop it into Garmin’s BaseCamp. From there I can load the waypoints into my Zumo and have the ability to create routes.

I organize my waypoints into collections in BaseCamp by rally name or maybe by type so that I can easily find them on the GPS when I’m on the go.

Odds and Ends

After I’ve visited a location, I sometimes remove it from my Zumo ‘favorites’ just to cut down on the clutter or if I think it is a place I might not ever feel the need to navigate to again.

If I’m just floating around, going nowhere in particular – I let the ‘favorites’ screen on the Zumo stay visible. A quick glance will let me know how close I am to the nearest waypoints I’ve saved.

Good luck and happy exploring!

If you have any other recommendations or tips please leave a comment!

 

E2E Rally – Some Things Are Hiding in Plain Sight

E2E Rally – Some Things Are Hiding in Plain Sight

I was supposed to be on vacation this past week. Instead, life happened. Dashed were the daydreams I had of sneaking off to pick up a few interesting E2E Rally bonus locations like the giant barbells in Quakertown, Pa. That stop will just be another one for the ole To Do List.

The upside of going back at a later date would be talking Wendyvee from Roadside Wonders into meeting me there and going for lunch. She’d also be the perfect person to snap my photo trying to get on the barbells. Or to call an ambulance when I break my neck …trying to get on the barbells. One day I will grow into a graceful swan. In the meantime, I’m fun to laugh at.

peconic post office

In the hours that I was able to squeeze in since last week, I did pick up some more bonus stops. Though I have picked up a couple here and there, I’ve tried to avoid going for the easy pickins like Post Office, Police Station and Firehouse here on Long Island. There are a bajillion of those around. I’m trying to keep them in my back pocket for days when I don’t have a lot of time.

static train car

This week I seemed to pick up a lot of trains, cemeteries and historical landmarks with a light sprinkling of oversized roadside stuff. You know, just to keep things silly.

roadside popeye

Living in an area that had a lot of early settlers means a big selection of cemeteries that are well over 100 years old. I’m quite surprised by just how many, in fact.

Terry Cemetery Orient - Grave marker 1775

Final Thoughts

One thing that the Rally has taught me so far is that no matter how much planning I do, how many books I read, or placemarks I put on a map – there is no substitute for just opening my eyes to my surroundings. I cannot believe some of the great things I have simply overlooked  going about my day to day life. Things that were hiding in plain sight.

I’ve lived in the same town here on Long Island for 11 years now. Yesterday I ‘found’ a train car that I’d never noticed before, even though I’ve passed it no less than 5 million times. Wake up and smell the coffee!

It’s been great looking through all of the photo galleries and seeing where the Rally is taking people. If you’re doing the E2E Rally also, I hope you’re having fun with it.

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