Travels with Harley Trailblazer Tour September 8

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I’m kind of liking taking the reins on the blog for awhile. We have both been super busy with the stores, but it’s nice to take the burden off Demea, for now anyway! Besides, I like writing about our adventures on the Trailblazer Tour as it helps me remember all of the good things that we had.

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I left you last week on the Trailblazer Tour after we had pulled into Brattleboro, VT. We met up with our friends Matt and Jodi from Michigan and Steve Sanders from New Jersey. While we were having drinks and catching up a couple that we had never met came up to our table and asked us if they could join us. I would say they were probably in their late fifties or early sixties. They were from the south of France, which I thought was very cool. They had rented a Street Glide in Florida for the Trailblazer Tour, but she said the seat was just too hard. He told us they had three bikes back home. A Harley Davidson Road King and an old 60’s BMW. If he told me what the other bike was I can’t seem to recall.

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We met lots of other people riding on the Trailblazer Tour that night including Larry and Lisa from Georgia. Demea really liked the jacket, and yes, it was stylish, black with silver trim, but for me, I like to ride in something more vibrant and visible.

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After a good night’s sleep, we got up about 6:00 and grabbed a Danish. We hooked up with some friends on the Trailblazer Tour before I took the bags down and loaded up the Road King.

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While we were in the parking lot, we met Matt Blowers who works for Harley Davidson. He was on a 2015 Street Glide. After taking a group picture, the cops escorted us out of town. Normally that would be a worry, but not this time!

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We ended up riding about sixty or seventy miles before stopping for gas. After we filled up, we rode another 40 miles. Matt from Michigan wanted to stop at the Fly Fishing Museum, but unfortunately, it was closed on Mondays. We ended up peaking through the window before heading over to the Robert Todd Lincoln House. Jodie is into Lincoln and wanted to take the tour, but Demea and I, not so much. We didn’t really want to spend $18.00 each for tickets, and Demea has some work to do on the laptop anyway.

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Demea and I ended up riding over to the café at the golf course and ordered drinks and appetizers while we waited for the rest of the group on the Trailblazer Tour. When they others showed up they told us the tour was well worth the money, and we should have gone. Maybe next time.

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Lunch was pretty tasty. We sat on the porch for lunch and Demea and I split a cheeseburger and homemade chips. Matt from Harley Davidson ended up paying for everyone’s lunch, which was very nice of him.

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We ended up messing around so much that we were running late and ended up riding fairly hard to get within 50 miles of the stop for the day for the Trailblazer Tour, and that was when all hell broke loose as Demea got a call from the Holiday Inn Express in White River Junction VT saying that they had given away our room. Mind you, Demea had booked it three months in advance.

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My wife is super organized, but when something like this happens, it tends to piss her off. More about that and the Trailblazer Tour next week.

Just Making Time and Miles on the Trailblazer Ride

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As I said in last week’s blog, Demea and I had to put on our leathers at the first gas stop before continuing on the Trailblazer Ride.

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We didn’t make it to Erie, PA until about 8:45, but stopped at the Panera Bread in Columbus, OH on the way. We were both freezing, and wanted something to warm us up. Sadly, Demea’s mocha and my hot chocolate were both lukewarm. Probably the worst stop yet on our Trailblazer Ride.

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After we left Panera Bread, we got back on the road and arrived at the Holiday Inn Express in Erie, PA. By this time, we were both hungry and tired and were glad that there was a pub restaurant that served until 9:00.

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You know how much Demea loves her food and was thrilled that the New Harvest Restaurant and Pub had liver and onions. She asked if she could add bacon on top of the liver and the look on her face was priceless when the waitress said that was how it was served. Of course, she knew it would be delicious.

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Demea ordered a burger for me but later said that she probably should have ordered the meatloaf based on how tasty the liver and onions were. We had our meal to go because we just wanted to get back to our room. Both of us liked the sound of a hot bath to get rid of the chill that we had been riding with all day.

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When I went back to get the food and talked to the waitress I told her, “You sound like you’re from Tennessee.” She said, “Yeah, I am, how did you know?” I said that I could hear it in her voice. They talked about how she had moved to Erie to be closer to her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchild. Honestly, both Demea and I thought that the food from the New Harvest Restaurant and Pub was almost the best food that we had on the Trailblazer Ride.

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After a good night’s sleep, we enjoyed another free breakfast at the Holiday Inn before riding the toll road Highway 90 across New York State for the Trailblazer Ride. It was overcast, but the sun did come out which made us feel better, but not much warmer. Luckily, we had our long johns and leathers on.

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I spent some time in New York State during the 70’s while attending Submarine school in Connecticut. Back then, I thought it was pretty and still do. I hope that Demea and I can get back so that we can do more exploring.

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Although the speed limit was 65 everyone was going about 80 mph. If I saw a cop I would slow down, but we still made pretty good time. I wouldn’t call it a fun bike ride, just making time and miles.

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We arrived at the Holiday Inn in Brattleboro, VT around 17:00. By this time, we had already traveled 1204.7 miles from home on the Trailblazer Ride.

After Demea unpacked we headed down to the lobby and met with other folks that we had ridden with in the past before heading across the street to a big tent that they had set up for us. The food was catered and good. One guy that we talked to said that there were about 300 bikes signed up for the Trailblazer Ride.

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Next week I’m going to tell you about some of the people that we rode with, the couple that we met from France, and of course, my take on Ben’s Mill.

Jims take on the New England Trailblazer Tour Part One

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I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had a chance to share the rest of the trip, but my wonderful husband wrote down his thoughts about the trip and that’s what we will be sharing for the next few weeks… As Jim puts it…

Demea and I took of on September 5th about 17:00 on our New England Trailblazer Tour. As Demea said in a previous blog, we had hoped to leave first thing in the morning, but because she had to train the new owner of the Farmington, MO. Sears Hometown Store, we just didn’t get a chance.

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That first day we only got as far as Effingham, Illinois on our New England Trailblazer Tour. The weather was calling for thunderstorms so we decided to stay at the Fairfield Inn. On the way, we saw a billboard on the freeway advertising the Firefly Grill. Of course, Demea Yelped it, and when we arrived it looked like an old barn. I’m not sure if it really was or was just made to look like one, but I liked it. There wasn’t any motorcycle parking, which is pretty common, especially on our Travels with Harley.

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As soon as we got through the door, I knew that Demea would appreciate the place more than I would. Everybody was dressed upscale, and we were in our Harley Davidson riding gear.

The service was pretty awesome. In fact, we didn’t even get our drinks that we had ordered at the bar because the hostess came and got us in what seemed like record time.

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I ordered the New York Strip steak with whipped potatoes and vegetables, and Demea had the Scallops and Risotto that came with peas and bacon. We started with a Caesar Salad and bread and butter. Because we were on vacation, we decided to finish the meal with molten lava cake with blackberry ice cream and coffee. I really wanted the banana nut cake, but they were sold out. The entire bill with tip came to $132.00. Well worth it if you ask me.

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During dinner, it started to rain, so needless to say I was really glad that we had decided to stop for the night. When we got back to the parking lot, we noticed a red Ferrari. I don’t know them well, but I think it was either a Modena or an Italia…whatever it was it looked like money. Luckily, the ride back to the hotel was ok as it was raining too badly.

The next morning we took advantage of the free breakfast. I had oatmeal and some bacon while Demea decided on the scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit.

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After breakfast, we headed out with an overcast sky, but had to stop about 50 miles into the trip because Demea was cold, and I hate to admit it, but I was too. It was so cold that Demea had to put on a hoodie under her rain jacket and me; well I put a heavy shirt on underneath mine.

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It was only in the 60’s, but it rained on and off all day, which if you have ever ridden a Harley Davidson in the rain, you know that it’s not much fun. We ended up putting on our leathers at our first gas stop, as the rain gear just wasn’t warm enough.

I have lots more to share on our New England Trailblazer Tour, but you will just have to tune in next week to hear about the rest of the trip, including my take on Ben’s Mill.

Bens Mill on the New England Trailblazer Tour

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I mentioned my new jacket last week, and wanted to share a picture with you. As I said, I fell in love with it and just had to have it. It looks completely different at night than it does in the daytime.

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On day two of our Travels with Harley New England Trailblazer Tour Jim and I decided to break off from the pack. We left White River Junction and instead of going with the rest of the group on the Kancamagus Highway, headed to Bens Mill.

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Everyone said it was an incredible ride that offered awesome views of the White Mountains, the Swift River and the Sabbaday Falls, but after spending the morning at Bens Mill, we were glad we opted out.

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Jim has always been quite passionate about the history of the watermills, which is the main reason that we decided to skip the Kancamagus Highway. We spent the morning at Bens Mill and had an incredible time.

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Ben Thresher’s Mill in Vermont has been in operation since 1848 and is one of the few wood working mills that are still operating in the United States.

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Bens Mill started back in 1872 first specializing in wagon bodies and wheels followed by working sleds and stone boats. The blacksmith shop that was adjacent to Bens Mill forged relevant metalwork. The other part of the mill was home to a hydraulic apple cider press.

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The last owner/operator, Ben Thresher, ran his mill year round from 1941 until he passed in 1995. Up until his untimely passing, Ben operated the then thriving mill in order to meet the needs of the people from Barnet and the neighboring towns.

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When Lois and Hiram Allen purchased Bens Mill in 1999 they turned it over to a nonprofit trust, The Bens Mill Trust. Since its creation, the trust has restored the exterior, foundation and the roof of the mill as well as the shafting and the belts. The machinery is now restored to its working condition, and the trust has completed a full-sized mock-up of the cider press and the turbine penstock.

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Today, thanks to the work of the Ben’s Mill Trust, all of the machinery still works. The water-powered turbine, which is backed up by a gasoline driven engine provides the power to Ben’s Mill.

 

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The dam that provides the water source for the mill is in a state of disrepair, but work has begun to complete more renovation thanks to the Bens Mill Trust. The Bens Mill Trust Board of Directors is committed to restoring the water power back to Bens Mill and is currently waiting on permit approvals from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

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When it was time to go I could swear that I saw a tear in Jims eye. He told me how badly he wanted to stay so that he could help the Bens Mills Trust project as it is run by volunteers. We both think it is imperative that the history of the watermills be preserved and hope that you do too.

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The success of Bens Mill centers around memberships, volunteers, and of course, donations. If you would like to participate in this hugely rewarding and historic endeavor, click here.