Monday, April 28, 2008

A Rustic Weekend On Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay

Envisioning my life last Friday, the great Scots poet Robert Burns wrote, “The schemes o’ the best laid mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley.” My original plan (as reported in this blog on February 26, 2008) was to strap the bare essentials onto my bike, ride down to Elk Neck State Park (North East, Maryland), and spent two nights in a rustic cabin: reading, examining my soul, and maybe committing a few lines to paper. My plan called for being on the road by noon on Friday and overlooking Chesapeake bay by dinner time.

Thank God work intervened and prevented me from leaving early. I have not been able to leave work early on a Friday afternoon in 29 years. The lightheaded sensation that would have accompanied this accomplishment would have undoubtedly led to some horrible motorcycle-related accident. As it was, I departed five hours late, drenched with sweat (82 degrees) and drove straight into rush hour traffic.

There are a number of things you can chant to restore mental peace. My kid, who is a yoga instructor, explained this to me. She’s right. I calmed myself by saying “fuck this” every 30 seconds.

There is a tendency to take more than one needs when one is planning on camping in a cabin with electricity. The rationale is that you are not dragging a tent with you, so that it is possible to indulge yourself in other ways. In my case the list of necessities included a queen-sized inflatable mattress (with electric pump), and a small, flat-screened DVD monitor (more compact that a laptop) to watch a self-improving movie if I felt the urge. This was in addition to a liter of rum, a half dozen cigars, and four special self-heating meals.

I did not feel challenged in carrying all this stuff as I was using a Jo’s U-Pac, which replaced my topcase and lashed down on the panniers. This “U” shaped pack holds a ton of stuff. But I had never used it before.

For those of you who are unaware of the austere beauty of the BMW K75 motorcycle, there is a dearth of lash points, which are apparently regarded as unmanly by the Germans. I discovered this when mounting the U-Pac for the first time. I was not happy with the result, and less so when I unpacked the damn thing, determined to squeeze everything in the two Beemer hard panniers. At this point, I was so hot, sweat was pouring off me like glacial melt into a giant carbon footprint. My “fuck this” chant served me well here too! It became obvious that I would not be carrying the superfluous crap that I had loaded into the U-Pac. The DVD monitor and the inflatable mattress were left on the garage floor. The dignity of my Beemer was restored by the official look of the two panniers and tightly rolled sleeping bag on the rear deck.

The last thing to be loaded on my bike was my bloated arthritic carcass. There is always a moment of doubt at this point. The bike is heavier with all this gear on it, and it takes a second to get used to. And lately, there is a moment of truth in swinging my gimpy left leg up to the peg. I snicked "fireballs" into gear and glanced at the wanning sun as I took my place in a long line of slow moving cars.

While riding in the dark is something I don’t mind, I see better during the day. We all do. So I prefer to ride in daylight. I divided the miles ahead of me into the number of degrees left between the setting sun and the horizon. This is an old Indian trick I learned from Mahatma Ghandi. You take the result, disregard it, and go like hell to cover as much ground as possible in daylight. I hit heavy traffic from the mouth of the driveway. But it became a horror story on US-1 in Chad’s Ford. Four miles of the blacktop had been coarsely milled in both directions prior to repaving.

Milled blacktop is not supposed to have an effect on the handling characteristics of a bike. This may be true to an extent, but the ride is lousy and deeper longitudinal cuts in the milling can seduce the front wheel. This would have thrown me into a blind panic three years ago, causing me to switch on my flashers and to wet my pants.

“Fuck this too,” I hissed under my breath, twisting on the gas. The milling ran the extent of US-1 from US-202 nearly 3 miles to Rt. 52 , which also had a construction detour on it. I let the ponies run once I got past Kennet Square, racing the setting sun to the horizon. There was still plenty of light left by the time I hit the town of North East, Maryland. Yet one can find adventure anywhere and I found some within 20 miles of my destination.

On rural Rt. 272, just inside Maryland, two assholes in a minivan shoved past me on the right, pushing me over the double yellow line. (Why is it always a minivan? Is this the official vehicle of assholes everywhere?) A few minutes later, just before crossing Rt. 40, another asshole pulled right out in front of me (from the left) with the glare of my headlight reflecting off his passenger’s side window. (One more time, I would point out the offending vehicle was a minivan.)

The short three-block main drag in North East is lined with trendy cafes, boutiques, and antique stores. Most people don’t realize it, but you’re only a mile from the bay at this point. Traffic usually snakes through this section, snarling directly in front of Woody’s Crab House. This is the most famous place on the Elk Neck peninsula. It has been skating on its reputation a long time and I was pleased to see empty parking spaces out front on a hot Friday night. Apparently, the dining public is getting wise.

The rest of the ride into Elk State Park was very pleasant. I pulled up to my cabin before the daylight turned gray and saw the most heartwarming sight. My buddy Pete Buchheit was sitting at the picnic table, holding a beer, tending a fire that he had kindled for my arrival.

“I thought you were dead on the road someplace,” he said, in a typical biker greeting. “Then I heard that K75 whining through the woods.”

“I bet you only have the one beer,” I replied in kind.

Our cabins were quaint, cozy, and rustic. Mine was called “Locust,” and sat 20 feet from the pavement. Pete’s was called “Red Oak” and squatted 200 feet from the tarmac -- downhill. He would claim to have walked 6 miles going down and back to this shack over the course of the next two days. I parked next to his machine, a BMW K1200RS, on the bare patch of ground in front of “Locust”.
Pete's Cabin "Red Oak" 200 Feet Downhill (Click To Enlarge)
Photo By Pete Buchheit
Copyright Pete Buchheit 2008

The cabin was a surprise in many ways. It was very clean. The screens were intact. There was a full-sized refrigerator inside. The stove was electric and new. The mattresses were prison quality, but clean, and not apparently from a prison. The bunk rooms were tiny, but functional. And the little main room was very pleasant. There were a lot of windows, and a nice gentle breeze coming in off the bay. I couldn’t see the water from my cabin, but Pete had a nice view of it from his. There was a communal bath house with hot showers and toilet facilities about 300 feet away.
A Cozy Place To Sit And Sip Coffee From My Mac-Pac Mug (Click To Enlarge)
Note Compact Eating Utensils
Photo By Jack Riepe
Copyright Jack Riepe 2008



Rich in Atmosphere, I liked My Rustic Cabin A Lot (Click To Enlarge) 
Photo By Jack Riepe
Copyright Jack Riepe 2008



The Kitchen Was Small But Fully Functional With Cold Running Water (Click To Enlarge)
Photo By Jack Riepe
Copyright Jack Riepe 2008 


Why did we get two cabins? To share in the camaraderie of the event, and to get at least 200 feet away from each other when the hangovers set in.

These Turkey Vultures Followed Buchheit Everywhere. (Click To Enlarge)
It Got Unnerving.
Photo by Pete Buchheit
Copyright Pete Buchheit 2008

Darkness had the courtesy to fall shortly after I unpacked the bike. It timed its arrival to coincide with opening of my first beer. There was still the question of dinner, but neither Pete nor I had any inclination to ride back out into town. It was here I whipped out my secret culinary weapon: self-heating meals. I got these from Cabella’s. They were beef and mushroom gravy over mashed potatoes. The entree is inserted into a plastic bag containing a ferrous oxide patch. To this, an ounce of salt water (included) is poured. The bag is then sealed and put down on a heatproof surface. The last thing you would want to do is hold one of these suckers in your hand.
Note Steam Rising From Self-Heating Meals. (Click To Enlarge)
The Beef and Mushroom Gravy Meal Was Very Good.
Unflattering Photo By Pete Buchheit.
Copyright Pete Buchheit 2008

The salt water started to boil in 20 seconds. The meal was as hot as if it had been in a microwave! Total cook time was under 10 minutes. The meal included a fork, a napkin, condiments and a wet wipe. They were tasty, left nothing to clean, and were adequate in portion size. We spent the rest of the evening watching the fire, emptying various bottles, and commenting on all things philosophical.
The Well-Hung Rider... Pete Displays His Gadgets: Flashlight, Bkackberry, and Camera.
Not seen is Pete's Swiss Army knife, which was later found in a duck.
Photo by Jack Riepe
Copyright Jack Riepe 2008

Nothing beats a cool morning in camp with a hot cup of coffee. I had three before good old Pete staggered up the hill. We experimented with a couple of self-heating breakfasts, which included pancakes, bacon and hot blueberry compote. Made in the same manner as dinner, they were a bit on the sweet side. Pete complained he wanted more pancakes and less blueberry stuff. I suggested he write Congress.
The Excellent Breakfast That Pete Buchheit Didn't Like (Click To Enlarge)
Photo by Pete Buchheit
Copyright Pete Buchheit 2008

Our ride for the day was to explore Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We followed a series of byways that included views of Chesapeake Bay, the Bohemian River, farm country and a private nude beach. This is the kind of agenda that justifies carrying a pair of compact binoculars on the bike. The weather was absolutely perfect: sunny, hot, with a mild breeze coming off the water. We passed through a number of quaint waterfront towns, one of which had a neat metal drawbridge. I wanted to stop at a place called “Bohemian Kate’s Ice Cream,” but Pete just drives past these joints in a trance.
The Pastoral Setting Of Our Rustic Cabins in Elk Neck State Park (Click To Enlarge)
Photo By Pete Buchheit
Copyright Pete Buchheit 2008

We ended up at Waterman’s Crab House in Rock Hall, Maryland. This joint is popular with the Harley crowd. It features outdoor dining on a pier, an outdoor bar, and a marina. Service was great (thanks Debbie) and the food was okay. Pete, Dick Bregstein, and myself are resigned to the fact that most seafood places on the water are all atmosphere and largely fried fish. We both had Maryland crab soup, which is a brown chowder with a lot of vegetables and a subtle tang to it. Not bad, but not the best. I had steamed shrimp with Old Bay seasoning. They were just okay. I also had a soft-shelled crab sandwich that I will not order again. It did not hold a candle to the soft-shelled crab you will get at the Berkley Fish Market in Seaside Park, NJ, which also has nice views and a bar. Buchheit ordered a Caesar Salad and a rock fish sandwich. He later explained to me that rock fish is also called “striped bass.”
BMW's and Yachts -- Perfect Together -- At Waterman's Dock (Click To Enlarge)
Photo By Pete Buchheit
Copyright Pete Buchheit 2008

Tooling through Rock Hall (which may also be known as “Stripped Hall”), we ran into Mac-Pac members David Hardgrove and his wife Pam, who live in the area and had been out doing 36 miles on their bicycles.
Fat Ass Really Can Ride This Motorcycle (Click To Enlarge Fat Ass And Stand Back)
Photo By Pete Buchheit
Copyright Pete Buchheit 2008

The atmosphere was good enough on Saturday. We caught some rays, took in the local color, and had a blast rocketing around on some great back roads. By the time we’d returned, we’d done a modest 140 miles.
Pete Buchheit (Left) and Jack Riepe At Waterman's Crab House, Rock Hall, Maryland (Click To Enlarge)
Photo by Waitress With A Really Nice-Looking Ass 

But the weather was turning. It was overcast before we got back and the wind was blowing from the east. The temperature dropped 20 degrees and we switched on my portable weather radio as soon as we got back to the camp. I bought this unit from Oregon Scientific for $39. It gives the current temperature at your location, and is programmed for NOAA and S.A.M.E. alerts. We were just on the verge of getting some critical reception, when someone, pressed a button locking the unit on “off.” Not having the instructions with me, I couldn’t get around this complication. But it worked out well anyway. With the radio down, somebody else focused on this development and finally stopped complaining about the blueberry compote on his free breakfast.

It was at this point that Pete had a conversation with the resident law. A passing ranger informed him we couldn’t park on the parched, bare earth next to the road... That in the interest of reducing the impact to the earth, we had to park on the narrow, inclined pavement shared with passing pickup trucks towing boat trailers. This would make those vehicles swerve off the road onto the grass on the other side. Pete took this well. He spent the next twenty-minutes muttering his own “fuck you” mantra under his breath.

Pete started up his bike and rode around the cabin loop prior to reparking his machine. In horror, I saw a dim shape moving through the woods toward the the road. Bikers have an innate fear of stupid things darting out of the woods. Even from its furtive movement in the shadows, I determined it was on a collision course with Pete. It’s current speed would carry it out to road at shoulder height. I screamed to Pete at the top of my voice, “Duck,” while pointing to the woods.

Pete scrunched down in the saddle, but not low enough. With a dull thwack, the duck bounced off his shoulder and lay stunned by the side of the road.

“Why didn’t you tell me to stop,” asked Pete.

“I told you exactly what to expect,” I said.


Pete carried the stunned bird over to the table. He gently wrapped it in a towel (mine), and spoke to it in a soothing voice. It soon hopped up, shit on his boots, and walked off into the woods with a “quack.” It was a female mallard and Pete named her, “Hillary.”
"Hillary" Before Being Revived By Pete Buchheit
Photo By Pete Buchheit
Copyright Pete Buchheit 2008

With the wind blowing a 40-knot gale, we built another fire and roasted steaks and potatoes on the coals, with boiled corn on the stove. We had everything except plates. Pete foraged a couple of flat rocks, and covered them with foil.

“Here’s our plates,” he said.

“What a cool idea,” I replied.

“Not at all,” said Pete. “This is what my wife and I eat on at home.”
The Wreckage of Dinner In My Cabin (Click To Enlarge)
Note Plates Are Foil Covered Rocks
Photo By Pete Buchheit
Copyright Pete Buchheit 2008

Sitting out by the fire warranted putting on a jacket, especially when the drizzle started around 10:30pm. The rain fell in a constant sheet at 3:30am and let up just before dawn. Pete’s bike sported a fine layer of condensation that developed under its custom-fitted cover. Mine was simply soaked from the rain. At this point, we realized the ranger may have done us a favor as the soft, wet ground, coupled with the wind, might not have supported the weight of the machines on their kickstands.
Pete Demonstrates How He Can Inflate A Bike Cover Using Only His Mouth in 15 Seconds Or Less.
Photo By Jack Riepe
Copyright Jack Riepe 2008

Men seems to coexist without a single rule. Whether it is bikers camping together, deer camp, or a ball game, there seems to be a suspension of social mores. Just prior to our departure, Pete let fly with a mighty anal bellow. It was answered by a solitary “quack” from the trees.

It had been so damned hot on Friday, that I hadn’t packed a long sleeved shirt or sweater. Almost as an afterthought, I tossed the rain liner to my Joe Rocket mesh jacket into my saddlebags. That was a good thing as it was about 53 degrees when we fired up the bikes for the ride to breakfast and home. I was freezing when I crossed over into Pennsylvania... That membrane-thin liner kept me from shivering. But at least it wasn’t raining.

This trip was an absolute pisser and I plan on doing it again later this year. A rustic cabin is perfect for two people who like seeing each other naked at night... Otherwise, it is recommended for one. And as you get older, it’s always nice to have time by yourself during the day. Because at one point or another, you realize that your closest friends are full of shit too.

Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA The Mighty Vindak8r (Delphi)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)

20 comments:

ADK said...

Closest friends?

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Adk:

Does "ADK" stand for "A Dick?"

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Riepe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
motonomad said...

Jack,
Here's an alternative to your arthritis diagnosis...you are suffering from the accumulated negative energy built up by years of lying, particularly about that prince of a guy, salt of the earth, all around good guy, Pete Buchheit.
P.S.: That stuff on top of the so-called pancakes looks more like something a Raccoon left behind than blueberry compote

Reb Rider said...

Jack,

Enjoyed your latest entry whilst making good use of my non-union 15 coffee break. While much of your rant sounded uncharacteristically moody, I soon realized the cause when I enlarged a photo of your dinner table to see a bottle of prescription strength Midol in one of the bags.
Glad to see you were able to make the best of the weather and the merely mediocre sea food in the area.

Best to you,

Doug
'01 1150 GSP
MAC-PACr, Southern Brigade
Bear, DE

Jack Riepe said...

Dear MotoNomad:

You couldn't ask for better company than Pete Buchheit. He is the role model for St. Francis. We were in a bar one night, when some guy's glass eye fell in Pete's drink. He gave it right back to the guy. Anybody else would have kept it.

By the way, do you know ADK?

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Reb Rider:

The Midol was Pete's. Aside from the ordeal of getting out the door on Friday, this trip was great. I was sorry it ended. In fact, I want to do it again right after Labor day with a couple other Mac-Pac guys too.

I have a thing about seafood. I always hope it will be fabulous. That famous epicurean, Dick Bregstein, is holding a number of rides this summer to find the best crabs, crab cake, and shrimp in a 250-mile radius. This is going to be really exciting and I hope he invites me on some of these trips. He's pretty tight with Pete Buchheit too. I'm told Pruit's in Rock Hall is the best, and that it's Sambo's in Delaware.

Fondest regards,
Jack

EZ Ryder said...

Jack,another fine adventure that you got yourself into.
The duck story really "quacked" me up, sorry I could not help myself.

regards,
EZ Ryder
PS 14

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dave:

I'm glad you found a true alternative meaning of life in this ride narrative. This was a strange impromptu event that just sort of came together. I really thought I was going to be here alone. Then I thought other guys would show up.

It was great hearing from you today.

Jack

BMW-Dick said...

Your story has stimulated some thoughts:
1) I am sorry that I didn't set aside my desire for creature comforts (a toilet and shower)and join you and Pete on the trip.
2) I'm with Pete, The Blueberry pancakes look disgusting; so did the Cabela's MREs
3) I'm with Jeff. You should have eaten the duck.
4) I'm not adk, but I understand how he or she would think that of you Brokeback guys.
5) Pruitt's is better than Waterman's and less formal.
6) Bob's Crabs has an AYCE fest.
7) I'm in next time!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sir:

Please be advised that all of our future trips will be by invitation, and that those who think they can pick and choose their way into our company are likely to get a nasty shock. Currently on the waiting list are Jessica Simpson, Denise Richards, and Katie Couric (for Pete). You missed a fun ride and an outrageous weekend.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Sojourner rides said...

Loved this post! It raised lots of questions. What's that long curved edged thingy that has, it looks like, several parts. One part is on a piece of white paper or cloth? It looks like it's a cover to some sort of clicker-thing? Also, what did the cabin cost, may I ask? Was there a lock on the door of the cabin? Did you see a lot of people around the grounds? Are these grounds patrolled?

The duck crash was too funny (not about the duck) but the hit and the efforts to revive it. Your rides with friends are having a positive effect on me. I'm actually believing I would have a nice time if I did a weekender with a like-minded soul.

The cabin sounds like a great way to get away to do some writing...And I can easily convince my family that this is a safer option than solo tent camping.

Packed with lots of great info (e.g., self heating food, Joe's U Pac). Nice pics too! Thanks

Sojourner rides said...

Loved this post! It raised lots of questions. What's that long curved edged thingy that has, it looks like, several parts. One part is on a piece of white paper or cloth? It looks like it's a cover to some sort of clicker-thing? Also, what did the cabin cost, may I ask? Was there a lock on the door of the cabin? Did you see a lot of people around the grounds? Are these grounds patrolled?

The duck crash was too funny (not about the duck) but the hit and the efforts to revive it. Your rides with friends are having a positive effect on me. I'm actually believing I would have a nice time if I did a weekender with a like-minded soul.

The cabin sounds like a great way to get away to do some writing...And I can easily convince my family that this is a safer option than solo tent camping.

Packed with lots of great info (e.g., self heating food, Joe's U Pac). Nice pics too! Thanks

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

In two of these pictures, I have three metal implements that are a knife, fork, and spoon, that nest on each other and make a handy package. The knife is on a napkin. Is that what you're talking about?

The cabin cost us $50 a night... But they are rented by the week during the summer. There is a lock on the door and this park is patrolled and very social. There were at least 40 or 50 people in the cabins around us.

We are doing another trip like this in the fall. Plus, I think we are going to do a four-day ride to West Virginia at the end of the month. We are looking at different cabins there. Cabins that are fully modern but which come with a much heftier price tag.

Finding people to spend a riding weekend can be tough. There are riding styles to consider, and the objectives of the people in the group. Somew are purely social, while others would rather get the miles down, while the remainder is interested in pictures. Me, I like daydreaming.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Fondest regards,
Jack

Sojourner rides said...

Jack,
Thanks for the info on the nesting utensils. I will look into that. The ones I have are three times the size and not nearly as cute. The cabins sound reasonable and comparable with those in this area. I'm really liking this idea and have decided to give it a try.

Regarding riding with others. I agree with finding a good match with the "style" of riders and, meshing of personalities, etc. Seems like a lot of work. It's mainly why I ride alone. Still, your stories are filled with such vibrancy and insightful exchanges with others that it makes me want to join in. Than again, I know me. I'm a hard one to hang with 'cause I want to do what I want to do. Riding really is the one thing I do that doesn't require me to compromise or negotiate with others--well, except for cagers, which is more than enough.

My husband has signed up for msf classes. At some point, when he regains his skills, we might do a day ride together, but we will not take trips. No matter how much he begs. Day rides. A weekender for those rare, special occasions but that's it!
later.

Jack Riepe said...

Sharon:

The guys I ride with on a regular basis -- as featured in this blog -- are "Disco Dick" Bregstein, "Petrified Swizzle Stick" Pete Buchheit, and Mack "The Ancient One" Harrell. They have a unique level of solidarity that can best be summed up as, "Every man for himself." Riding with these guys is like being out with strangers who you will not have a conversation with until the end of the day.

Other guys I ride with, Dave Oehler, Rob Haut, or Jay Scales, hang far enough back to give you the impression that you are the boss. Only Corey Lyba (BMW R1200GS) ever gives the impression he listens to me, though he usually responds with a shrug.

I would love to have the opportunity to include you in one of my ride reports. The dialogue would probably go something like:

"Did you have a route planned for today's ride," I asked Sharon.

"Listen, Fatboy. If I wanted you to know, I'd have told you," she replied. "Try and keep up."

That's about what I hear from these other guys.

Fondest regards,
Jack

young_yogini said...

I saw that last photo and was amazed until I read the caption.

At first glace, I thought you'd out-yoga'd me and learned to levitate!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Young Yogini:

Of all my children, you are the one I most deeply regret not leaving by the firehouse in a basket.

Fondest regards,
Your Dad

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