If you asked a 10-year-old what an adventure is, it might not extend beyond camping out in the tree fort in the woods behind their house. But to those with an internet connection, at least 20 years worth of rotating around the sun and a motorcycle license – well, it seems like we’ve got a larger yardstick to measure adventure against. And you know? That kinda stinks.
Like many people in the Northeast, this winter has been rough for me. I haven’t been able to find my footing and make the best of it. Instead, I’ve wallowed in self-pity and have wrestled with a nasty case of the sads 🙁 . I feel like I haven’t done anything or gone anywhere or had any damn fun ever, ever, ever, never in my whole life. Ever. I’m on the emotional rollercoaster careening down a hill at warp speed.
Microadventures: Improve your life a little at a time
I quickly glanced around to see if someone was looking over my shoulder. Clearly, they wrote that headline for me. Yes, I need to improve my life! I need to upend my boring routine! And I sure as hell don’t want it to take much! A sign. That’s what that was, right there, a sign.
Microadventures are about squeezing all the curiosity and interestingness out of those hours when you aren’t dealing with “real life.”
Do you have a day job and only weekends off? Are you paying for a kid or two in college? Maybe you can’t wrap your head around going around the country for four months – but maybe you can wrap your head around doing something for 4 or 12 or 24 hours.
When you have the right mindset, you can find yourself having a great time without being mired down by some grand expectation of what an adventure is.
Bite-sized adventure. I like it! Maybe it’ll be a ride to a state park for a hike or a trip to a lookout at the top of a mountain. Who knows?
There’s nothing groundbreaking here in this “women in motorcycling” post. Sometimes I just have to bleed a little steam so that I don’t explode.
Each day I read all sorts of blogs, mailing lists, Twitter feeds, magazines about motorcycling and the life that surrounds it. Sometimes I feel bummed out that the most popular women-centric motorcycle media has a central theme of women being hot first and loving motorcycle life second.
I’m not naïve, I get it. That’s how you make the eyeballs come. But I’m over it. I’m not 25 and I can’t take in this type of information with a pinup-vibe anymore and do anything constructive with it. These brands, these personalities, these photographs – they aren’t talking to me. I’m not their audience and the truth is… I know that doesn’t matter to them. Simmer down, old lady! I’m so hungry for something with more depth and feeling, a connection to people and the world.
Are women our own worst enemies? Are we just blindly getting on board and perpetuating this?
There is better inspiration to be found out there. Girls, please show us who you are beyond that you’ve won the genetic lottery. Be something, do something, inspire the gravity-ravaged middle aged broads like me. Yes, I’m going gray but damn it to hell, I will never be too old to say I want to see that, try that, DO THAT! Beauty is fleeting. Curiosity, adventure, daring, reverence and deep appreciation aren’t. BE amazing.
Don’t get me wrong – there are women riders that I follow who are doing wonderful things. They’re exploring the world, writing books and being fierce lionesses leading by example. While they may in fact be physically beautiful, that isn’t the most important part of their message. I admire and appreciate them deeply. Now, I don’t know if it is their own choosing, the fact that they’re too busy being magnificent to build an online “brand” or just that the marketplace isn’t looking for a lady encased in textiles to champion – but these inspiring women aren’t being showcased like chicks in hot pants are.
I’m hoping that more women out there want something more and would be willing to give something more. Maybe more of these amazing and adventurous women will start to squeeze out some of the cheesecake.
Things are changing. But the wheels of time move slowly.
Werewolves and the French Police on the Little St. Bernard Pass
When Kenny and I decided to call it a night on Friday, we were still on the Little St. Bernard pass. As we started our descent from the top of the pass we pulled in to a hotel that our friend Ed mentioned he was going to try to stay at.
We were hoping to see Ed’s copper V-Strom parked out front. Instead, we found 2 dozen other bikes. All those bikes were surely a good sign about the place, right?
Though their route initially put them in front of us, somehow we’d gotten ahead of Ed and Drea. When we landed in Milan (the four of us on the same flight) we split up – Kenny and I went to Stresa, Italy to fall asleep next to the lake and Ed and Drea set off for Zermatt, Switzerland to take a peek at the Matterhorn.
Our plan was to do our own thing on Thursday and Friday and then all come together on Saturday morning. The last part of the puzzle would be meeting Pimmie in Susa, Italy. Pim, coming down from the Netherlands, was the last member of our group to rendezvous with for a week of riding.
We Love Motorcycles
The Belvedere Hotel really catered to the motorcyclist. In their lounge they had motorcycle magazines and postcards, maps of good riding in the area. They had covered motorcycle parking and even made tools and cleaning supplies available in the entryway!
Motorcycle culture is quite different in Europe.
Being right on a corner of the pass, you got to see bikes whizzing by all the time.
One of the most interesting things we saw right from our room was several groups of French Gendarmerie motorcycle police strafing the corner. There must’ve been 10 groups of four FJR pilots whizzing along, each in perfect unison. They looked like fighter planes carving through the turn. It was pretty awesome:
Calling it a Day
After jettisoning our riding gear and having a shower, Kenny and I went down to the dining room.
We sat there in the warm light sipping beers feeling that “travel high” that you sometimes get when you realize just how fortunate you are to just float in the world. There is a period at the beginning of a trip when you feel like you have all the time in the world and you are free. We were there.
Torn between the want to stay up and shovel more delicious home-cooked regional dishes into our faces and the still nagging jet lag, we retired early to bed. We were fat, happy and excited to regroup with our friends in the morning.
What. Was. THAT?!
Awoken by an unfamiliar discordant sound, I went from dead asleep to sitting up bolt straight in bed, heart thumping in my chest. What the…?!
Through our open window came the peculiar, discordant tones of… howling. When you’re dwelling in that hazy space between sleep and wakefulness, that is a sound that is quite unsettling. That’s the state where anything that your imagination conjures up is reasonable and it’s usually f’n scary.
There is was again!
In the dark of our room, I turned and looked out the window but saw nothing. Everything beyond the reach of the lone street lamp was obscured by the envelope of blackness. Perhaps it was best that I didn’t see what was obviously a werewolf out there.
I turned and looked at Kenny who was also up now and said “Did you hear that?!”
I firmly believe that one of the less tapped into portions of our brains allows a spouse to actually hear eye rolling and the inner monologue of their partner. I have harnessed this ability.
“Yes,” he said.
Translation:“No, dummy. I’m sitting up in the middle of the night staring out into the blackness, at the very same moment you are, for no reason whatsoever.”
Because my brave protector’s inner monologue had time for sarcasm, I decided it was safe to go back to sleep.
The Belvedere was a great place to stop for the night. I would absolutely stay there again. It’s rooms were on the petite side but the beds were comfortable, the rooms were clean, the food was good and the atmosphere was lovely. And… they have werewolves. But for some reason they don’t mention that on the website.
One of the best things to do while visiting our shores is check out our Long Island Roadside Attractions!
What are some fun things to do on Long Island?
Many people know Long Island as home to beautiful beaches, the glamour of the Hamptons, quaint walkable towns, and wonderful wineries.
But we are also home to some famous roadside attractions like the Big Duck of Flanders. Make a stop at this roadside icon and visit the gift shop inside and learn the history of this programmatic architecture icon!
Where is the Big Duck?
The Big Duck is in the town of Flanders, New York.
Street Address: 1012 NY-24, Flanders, NY 11901
Can you go inside the Big Duck?
Yes! The inside of the Big Duck has historical photos and newsclippings as well as duck-related souvenirs.
The Big Duck is open 10-5 with the exception of Saturday, when it closes at 3.
Where is the Flying Pig?
Long Island’s flying pig is in Miller Place.
The Flying Pig Cafe 825 NY-25A Miller Place, NY 11764
Many people know Long Island as home to beautiful beaches, the glamour of the Hamptons, quaint walkable towns, and wonderful wineries.
But we are also home to some deservedly famous roadside attractions. Heck, we’re home to an icon that inspired an architectural term! Not to mention one of our roadside giants even had a cameo on an episode of The Sopranos.
So, let’s get this show on the road and explore Long Island and these post-worthy wonders.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Big Duck of Flanders is Long Island’s most recognizable roadside attraction, and one of the most recognizable and enduring examples of programmatic architecture. The term “duck” architecture is a nod to the Island’s beloved Duck.
The Big Duck was built in the early 1930s as an attraction to sell Peking ducks. Constructed with a frame made of wood, wire mesh was then attached and covered in cement. The Duck’s eyes are made from Ford Model-T taillights.
Each year at Christmastime, there is fun ceremonial lighting of the duck.
The inside of the Big Duck has historical photos and news clippings as well as duck-related souvenirs.
The Big Duck is open 10-5 with the exception of Saturday when it closes at 3.
Location: The Big Duck is in the town of Flanders, New York.
Street Address: 1012 NY-24, Flanders, NY 11901 You can visit the outside of the duck at any time.
Riverhead Raceway’s Muffler Man Indian
Chief Running Fair
A list of Long Island roadside attractions would not be complete without a hat tip to our mufflerman.
This handsome silent sentry stands on the grounds of the Riverhead Raceway. He is Long Island’s only Muffler Man. Many folks will recognize him from an episode of the Sopranos where Tony walks in front of him at the raceway.
Location: Riverhead Raceway – 1797 Old Country Road, Riverhead, NY
The Flying Pig of Miller Place
A symbol of overcoming impossible odds, this angelic pig takes flight in front of The Flying Pig Cafe in Miller Place.
Location: The Flying Pig Cafe 825 NY-25A Miller Place, NY 11764
Mr. Millennium – The Giant Snowman
The smiling snowman is nearly 20 feet tall and stands outside of North Sea Auto Radiator on Sandy Hollow Rd. I totally love his big mittens. They’re so cute! His plaque says he was made in the year 2000 and that his name is Mr. Millenium [sic].
Location: North Sea Auto Radiator-Towing – 25 Sandy Hollow Rd., Southampton, NY 11968
Keith Haring Sculpture – New Hyde Park
This untitled Keith Haring sculpture requires a little consideration as it is in the courtyard of a Children’s Hospital. You should probably park and approach on foot.
It is an excellent example of the late artist’s pop-style.
Location: Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York 269-01 76th Avenue – New Hyde Park, NY 11040
Location: The Long Island Museum 1200 New York 25A Stony Brook, NY 11790
Giant Corn on the Cob – Calverton
Okay, how much do you love this giant corn on the cob? In the realm of giant roadside vegetables, this one really pops!
See what I did there? …I’ll show myself out.
Location: Fox Hollow Farms 2287 Sound Ave, Calverton, NY 11933
The Giant Rooftop Hotdog – Gone!
Update – July 2019
Sadly, the rooftop hotdog is no more. I’m leaving the photo in place as a memorial to its former greatness.
God speed, giant wiener.
Located on top of First National Franks in Medford, the giant rooftop wiener is a winner! You can ride to eat and see something kitschy in one shot. What’s better than that?
Former Location: 3147 Route 112 Medford, NY, 11763
The Pirate House – Miller Place
No doubt the neighbors of the Pirate House in Miller Place must get fed up with the gawkers who stop by for a look.
“The Connor Belle”
The local story that I have heard about this house is that the owner built this temple of pirating for his daughter who had a brain injury. It came in the wake of seeing her happy reaction to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride during a trip to Disney World. I cannot say if that is indeed true; it could just be an urban legend.
The house does have a notary public sign out front. Maybe you can get the scoop from the horse’s mouth while having a document notarized? Hmm…
Nothing says delicious Italian food like a stucco castle with 2 Musketeers, a horse, a two-headed snake and a gold lion in the yard. From what I understand the food is actually quite good. Go for the kitsch, stay for the pasta.
Location: 59 Montauk Highway Westhampton, NY 11977
Home Depot Cemetery – Commack
The Home Depot in Commack is now located on what was once a World War I airfield called Brindley Field. Prior to that, it was a farm.
Today it has an interesting secret “hidden” in plain sight; the Burr Family cemetery plot. As people go shuffling by with their carts full hammers and nails, many do not even realize the tree-lined little square houses a handful of tombstones.
Location: Home Depot 5025 Jericho Turnpike, Commack, NY
The Giant Bull of Calverton
I happened upon this guy while cruising around. He stands inside the pen of a private farm. Between you and me, I like him so much more than the oft-talked about Smithtown bull. In the battle of Long Island’s big bovines? This guy is tops.
Location: Wading River Manor Rd. Calverton, NY
Baby Yoda Cheeseburger Mural – Huntington
This Baby Yoda holding a cheeseburger mural is a stunner! Painted by Andaluz the Artist, who also gave us the Pokemon Wall – you’ll find it on the back-side of Burgerology, facing the municipal parking lot in Huntington.
Location: 308 Main St, Huntington, NY 11743 Google Maps
Atlantic Seafood’s Shark Mouth Door – Center Moriches
The Shark Mouth door of the Atlantic Seafood restaurant always makes me smile. It’s amazing how many locals don’t know the name of the place and just call it ‘the shark mouth.’ View on flickr
Location: 125 Main St Center Moriches, NY
The Cement Sphinx of Bayport
A Long Island landmark since 1911.
“She who climbs the Sphinx’s head, a millionaire will surely wed.” Unfortunately, ladies, the sphinx gives mixed messages with its No Climbing sign. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Location: 890 Montauk Hwy, Bayport, NY
Nipper the Dog – Babylon
This 6ft tall fiberglass Nipper the dog stands at the front door of Plesser’s Appliances in the town of Babylon. He’s a town favorite!
The Yaphank Garage, a former 1930’s Shell Service Station and Garage is a beautifully restored local time capsule. It is one of my favorite Long Island roadside attractions.
The Suffolk County Police Historical Society has restored the Yaphank Garage. Mannequins and display boards tell the story of how a small community service station and its local constable worked together to serve their citizens in the 1930’s and 40’s.