Printable size (Undo)
Route Map
Anti Scriptum
Rocinante's upgrades
Techno Solutions
01 New York
02 New England
03 Maine to Midland
04 Midland to Sturgis
05 Indians'n Cowboys
06 British Columbia
07 San Francisco
08 SF to San Diego
09 Baja to Canyons
10 Baja California
11 Northern Mexico
12 Mex. to Guatemala
13 Gua. to Costa Rica
14 CR to S. America
15 Ecuador
16 Peru and Bolivia
17 Chile
18 Patagonia
19 Argentina/Brasil
20 The road home
Photo Gallery

Norwegian version

E-mail: mail at dagjen.no
Go to Pan American Home

Chapter 03 Maine to Midland, Michigan

Start: June 8th, Windham, Maine, Stopp: June 14th, Midland Michigan
Distance: 2449 km (1530 miles), Total Distance: 4034 km[Map]

We're going through the New England mountain states of New Hampsire and Vermont, stumble upon a huge motorcycle touring rally, meet the head of Triumph, USA's consumer events on the road, buy the stupidest tourist trap tour ever in Niagara falls, and get lost in little Midland, Michigan.

Norway, Maine
Norway, Maine

The Americade

We left Dennis and company on June 8th, heading north into the Maine mountains. There was this small village an hour's drive away called Norway that we just had to visit. The story goes that a Norwegian once founded the village, but gave it a name no one could pronounce or understand, so they decided to call it Norway, which fitted well in, since we passed through Paris, Mexico, Poland and later Berlin, Milan and a few more.

This area is very similar to northern Europe with the hills, the forest and the lush, green vegetation. In the afternoon we passed Mount Washington in New Hampsire, and I looked longingly towards what looked like a perfect stretch of dirt road to the top. It was late however, so we decided to wait until the morning and then decide if it was worth going back for. Our first night in a typical American motel was a treat, with nice beds and a TV with a thousand channels - of which we only looked at the weather channel to get an idea of the next day's riding. We showered and fell quickly asleep, having set the alarm to six thirty in the morning, to let me get a shot at the mountain trail. Bente decided that I could do it by my self, shaking her head.

The morning ride up to the gate to Mount Washington was a disappointment, because the mountain road was closed due to heavy winds on the top. It blew more than 120 km/h up there, so I wasn't too angry with the rangers. Instead I got back earlier than planned and we set off eastwards along the Cangamagus Highway which crosses over the White Mountains. The ever returning alternator rattle, caused by a loose bolt inside the alternator, had returned and I knew I would have to find a workshop with a knowledgeable mechanic to sort out the problem. I put the problem aside and enjoyed the scenery.

Later that day we crossed winter holiday famous Vermont into New York State, and was told by a middle aged Harley Davidson rider that the Americade, the worlds largest touring rally was held in the area of Lake George, just southwest of us and in the direction we were heading. The rally started as a pure Gold Wing rally, but has since grown to accept all motorcycles. In reality there are two brands that dominate the rally, the Gold Wings and the Harley Davidsons. The latter are driven by a strange mix of people over here. Some would salute us with their left hand when passing us, as is customary between motorcycle riders in most of the world, while most of them would look straight forward and ignore anything that didn't resemble a Harley. It annoyed me for a while, then it started to humour me, and in the end I broke out laughing. What had struck me was that these arrogant riders, who wouldn't recognise us who rode on a different brand bike, were on their way to a Honda Gold Wing rally - Harley riders on a japaneese motorcycle rally. The irony amused us for a long time, and each time a Harley showed up in the horizon, I was early out with my hand to be sure he saw us.

With about 50 to 60000 motorcycle expected to the rally, we were kind of sceptical to where in the world we would get a room for the night. We had decided we wanted to pay the site a visit on Saturday, the next day, to shoot some pictures and meet other bikers. After hours of search we ended up in Scroon Lake, about 80 kilometers from the centre of the rally. We got lucky, since even that far from the centre, the motels and camping grounds were all filled up with bikes.

Zillions of bikes at the Americade Touring Rally.

In the morning the mosquito infested area we lived in was sunny and warm. Outside our little cabin, the little agressive beasts were all gone. Or so I believed until I saw poor Rocinante. They were all over her, and our attempts to mount bags and pack the bike resulted in numerous itching bites. I moved the bike into the sun, believing it would be too much for them, but no, they must have laid eggs while the bike was warm, because they stayed with the bike, not giving us a instant of a break to do the job. I gave up and accepted a few bites, then I rode the bike fast up to the gate, but still they clinged to it. We hurried up and left, and finally, on the highway somewhere, they gave in.

Down in Ticonderooga, a small town on the northern shores of Lake George, the number of bikes on the road indicated that we were close to something big, and as we drove along the lake, the numbers increased until we were riding among a zillion bikes into the little town of Lake George, the centre of the rally. It was a very hot day, and we were dressed completely, so at the first available spot we stopped and got out of the armour. We were surrounded with a cacaphony of open exhaust Harleys, mixed with the silent buzz of the Gold Wings. Now and then a high rev. Japaneese sportsbike passed by, making a nice change of scenery. Lots of people stopped to take Rocinante into closer view. The Tiger stuck out of the crowd with the aluminum panniers and a total of six bags, not to mention the Norwegian licence plates flanked by to small flags mounted upside down - a mistake we felt kind of embarrassed about. We were told the rally was a sort of warm up for the Laconia, a week long rally somewhere in New Hampsire, receiving up to 300 - 350000 bikes, most of them Harleys.

We pretty soon realized that we needed to get out of this place. The heat were getting to us, and since we weren't able to store our gear anywhere, we hit the road westwards. After half an hour I spotted eight different, brand new Triumphs parked by the roadside. I pulled over and the first guy in the flock came over, giving us the thumbs up and a broad grin. He presented himself as Greg Casey, head if the Triumph Consumer Events in USA, and he was at the Americade to promote Triumph. The people with him were potential buyers test riding the bikes. We talked for a while, and he got very interested when we told him about our trip, and insisted we got in touch with him on e-mail. We might hook up with him later on a RAT trip (Rider Association of Triumph - the official Triumph motorcycle club, which I'm a member of and he's running in the States) from Seattle to Mount Helene. Our plans are still vague, but it sounded like fun, so we might fit it into our plans.

This day had started real slow, and we were both tired and hot by the time we got far enough away from the rally to open the throttle and get some cooling wind. So it came as a surpise to us that we managed to keep driving until late in the night, covering 700 km and reaching Niagara Falls without being exhausted.

Dag walks into the tourist trap

Niagara rain

Half an hour before the tourist trap tour started, the skies let go of it's load.

We stopped by the first "Visitor Centre" we saw after crossing the bridge from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. All we wanted was a map, but the guy inside was quite a salesman, and by the time we left we had bought a tour of the Falls for 55 dollars each. Bente protested heavily, trying to convince me it was a classical tourist trap tour which I wouldn't enjoy. She has worked as a tourist guide and I should have listened to her, but did not. I insisted that it would be a great way to see the sights, forgot about the terrible weather forcasts for the next day, and got my way. Bente shook her head and resigned.

The morning came, sunny and warm. It stayed like that until two in the afternoon. Just when we were exiting our room in the motel, the rains started. In an instant everything was wet and flooding, and by the time we had crossed the road we were drenched. The tour got on its way, and I started to realize what I had done when the tour guide and bus driver started to tell jokes and introduced everybody on the bus. We had to put our hand in the air, while everyone looked at us and smiled and cheered. Then each one got a tag to hang around their neck, so we could easy be spotted among the other herds of tourists. I tried to avoid Bente's eyes, and when I finally looked at her, she was struggling to keep the laughter quiet.

Niagara boat ride
The one positive aspect of the tour was the boatride into the Niagara mist.

For four hours we were led through the different sights and "specially cheap souvernir shops" in rain that competed with the falls themselves in amount of water. We got more drenched as the day passed, and after an otherwise very fun boat ride into the mist of the falls, a rip in the disposable raincoat we got for the trip, caused my crotch to drip with water. I said at least a hundred times that I accepted all fault and would never, ever buy such a trip again. The crescendo came when we went up in one of the highest towers to overlook the falls, and nothing could be seen, since the clouds were below us. As a compensation the tour guide took us to a botanic garden. By then our laughter had hints of hysteria in it.

Lost in Midland

After a day's ride through the southern part of Ontario, Canada - were going through customs was a breeze, we reached Midland, home of Tiger list member Kevin Henry. Kevin was expecting us, and had been wondering for a while when we would show up. In accordance to our rather random schedule, we called Kevin the day before we arrived and asked if he had any plans. Luckily he didn't, and we met him at the Pizza hut, a chain restaurant in the middle - I think - of Midland, which would be a rescue point for us later. Kevin is a Ph.D. in something chemical and moved to Midland one and a half year earlier to start working for DOW industries, a giant chemical production company. He knew about the problem with the alternator and had checked which dealer would be the best for us. We chose the Detroit Triumph dealer, and went there the second day, after talking to Norm on the telephone, a mechanic who had worked with Triumph motorcycles the last 31 years. He recognized the problem at once and fixed it within the hour.

The fun started when we returned to Midland, a small town spread out in the flat inland of Michigan, and which doesn't seem to have any landmarks. Or that is to say, we didn't recognize them. When we got back from Detroit, we realized we had forgot the map, didn't know Kevin's adress, and for all that we tried couldn't remember where we had driven when we arrived the day before, or when we left in the morning. No problem really, we just cruised around looking for a landmark. Nothing showed up, and after trying a number of "It's there, it's definately there.." roads, we gave up and found ourselves once again at Pizza hut, finally getting through to Kevin on the cellular, laughing and saying, "Please come and save us again!". Still we haven 't tried the pizza in that restaurant.

Michigan rain

When it rains in Michigan, it rains. It RAINS! We're waiting for the softball field to clear.

Each Wednesday through the summer season Kevin's coworkers at DOW have a beer/softball night at the local playground. Softball is a softer version of baseball, and we were invited to join in. We did, but only as spectator and photographer. The game started as seriously as a softball game should do, I guess. But after half an hour the skies opened up and drenched the field and everyone in it. In no time the field flooded and made nice ponds for people to dive into. Most of the players were already quite deep into the coolers of Budweiser, and two of the girls started the fun by jumping into the water. Soon almost everyone was in the water, fighting and trying to achieve the longest belly slide. We didn't join in, excusing ourselves with that we were leaving the next day, and we had a very limited wardrobe for our trip. Excuses, nothing more.

When we left Midland, we were riding on Kevin's stock Tiger seat and with his Throttlemeister, a device that allowes you to lock the throttle for more comfort on long stretches. The Corbin seat was left behind, and Kevin will send it to a fellow list member in San Fransisco who lives close to the Corbin factory, so we can get it slightly rebuilt to fit us better. Another list member will send his spare stock seat to Kevin, and we will return the seat when getting the modified Corbin. How could we survive without the Tiger mailing list? Thanks folks!

Softball wrestling
The game was rather boring before the rains. Now we're getting somewhere..

Softball wrestling

Size is no limit. Down they must go ..

Softball wrestling
.. and down they went.

Softball wrestling
Who could do the longest belly slide and splash the most water at the same time?

>> Next Chapter


E-mail: mail at dagjen.no
Top of page



© All photos and text on this site is the property of Bente Bråthen and Dag Jenssen. Contact us if interested in publishing or reusing material from us.
URL Main page: http://www.RocinantesTravels.com. Comments, suggestions or problems with the site, contact
mail at dagjen.no