Sections 5-9 go north on mostly unpaved forest roads through PA to the end of the route at the NY border.
Early on in PA, we found this closed road on the route:
Sections 5-9 go north on mostly unpaved forest roads through PA to the end of the route at the NY border.
Early on in PA, we found this closed road on the route:
Just south of the much touted Oldtown Low Water Toll Bridge, we found this little community park with a much welcome covered pavilion. This little town unexpectedly had all the amenities we could want to wait out the passing rain.
Starting the BDR:
Its spring here in NC, which often means its wet. While we were fortunate to have multi-day stretches of great weather that weren’t too hot, riding this route in the fall definitely improves the chances for having dry weather. We delayed our trip start by half a week, avoiding a weather system that would have had us riding in the rain all day for several days. This meant we had a smaller window of opportunity to make the trip before we had to be back home, and meant we ended our trip by riding during the dreaded Memorial Day holiday weekend (dreaded if you are trying to enjoy the outdoors with the rest of the country at the same time and would like to a place to stay (including camping) without needing reservations).
We spent the morning of Day 1 on a lovely ride to the start of the BDR:
Guess what? Its moto trip time!
Those who know us know that we’ve had some obstacles in recent years that have prevented us from taking our beloved extended motorcycle trips. As of spring 2018, however, we were able to dip our toe back in to our favorite mode of travel with a most excellent week long adventure on the MABDR.
First, some definition: MABDR stands for Mid Atlantic Back Country Discovery Route. The BDR group is a non profit organization “whose mission is to establish and preserve off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles. Through education, advocacy, and promotion of responsible motorcycle travel, BDR seeks to preserve backcountry motorcycling opportunities for generations to come.” (BDR website here: https://ridebdr.com/About-Backcountry-Discovery-Routes)
“The Mid-Atlantic BDR (MABDR) is the eighth BDR route developed for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel.
MABDR is a scenic ride for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles that uses dirt, gravel and paved roads to wind through remote parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Starting in Damascus Virginia, and ending in Lawrenceville, Tioga County, PA, this 1,080-mile route, primarily uses forest roads and rural country lanes, to lead riders through the Appalachian mountains, majestic forests, bucolic farming landscapes, Amish country, and locations that played pivotal roles in early American history.”
The mid atlantic route is their most recently developed route, and their first in the eastern part of the US (where it is admittedly much more difficult to develop off-pavement routes due to an older, denser road network that is largely paved, and much less public land). We’ve had our eye on some of their western routes for a while, but being residents of NC, making the trip to the western states to go ride has been more of a commitment than we’ve been able to make yet. The effort to develop “adventure” routes in the eastern US was undertaken specifically for people like us, which we think is just fantastic. The route was officially made public in March of this year, so we clearly jumped at the chance to take a trip so close to home, and we’re probably among the first wave of people to ride this particular route.
The overall BDR looks like this:
To follow the route, its essential to use the GPS tracks downloaded from the BDR website. We also had the physical Bulter map, and think the trip would have suffered without it. The Butler map is incredibly well done and very useful, but there is simply no way to make a paper map with enough detail required to follow the route by that alone. It would take a stack of very detailed maps, and even then, you’d have to stop to navigate at every turn, which are sometimes in very close sequence in close proximity with many other (wrong) options to choose from. There are hundreds of turns, many on undistinguished and unlabeled forest roads. Sometimes there are only one or two roads to choose from, and the way is clear, other times, more than two roads diverged in the wood, some paralleling each other for awhile, and its not a matter of picking the one less traveled. Even with the GPS tracks, we made many a u-turn trying to stay on course (which sometimes is part of the fun).
Ok, introductory context out of the way, time to get started. Sort of. First, we needed to drop the dog off with my parents. Geographically, since we had to go there to drop the dog off anyway, it made sense to start the trip from their house. This meant we had to get both motorcycles (and all the gear), plus the (85lb) dog to their house. So, our obligatory start of the trip photo looked like this:
Kevin rode in the rain for a couple of hours, while I trucked my bike, the dog, and a bunch of stuff. Wearing my helmet while driving meant we could use the SENA radios to talk during the trip, just to make the whole affair that much more eccentric.
After all the prep and trying to make work go away long enough to take a vacation, it felt great to start riding in mostly dry weather the next morning.
File this under: Home Ownership Problems I Did Not Anticipate
As of last Friday, for the fourth time this season, a bird has flown/fallen down our chimney and gotten stuck in our wood stove.
Yes, really. Each time the bird has been unharmed, but also naturally does not appreciate finding itself stuck inside our wood stove, unable to get back out. The first time was somewhat alarming, and a bit amusing. It took a few minutes to consider how we might get the bird out of the wood stove and put it back outside, unharmed, without letting the now very sooty bird loose into the house. Its a bit of a trick, but we’re 4 for 4 so far. Once outside, its nice to see the bird fly away from out front porch where we let it loose, and land in a tree to shake itself off.
We’re also getting some really bizarre photos. Its difficult to take photos through the glass on the front of the wood stove:
I’ve called our wood stove installer to see about replacing the chimney cap. They generally don’t like to use screens on the chimney caps, because if you don’t have good burning practices, a screen can clog up and require more frequent chimney cleaning. However, given our bird problem, the installer seemed to think a screen was a good idea. He was surprised too; he said he’s maybe gotten four calls about birds in 20 years in the business, but this year he’s had that many this season alone. Who knew.
A little sightseeing in Chicago on a day off from work:
The leaves are already starting to change. Our day included a walk in Millenium Park, which has the Cloud Gate (aka “the bean”), and the very strange crown fountain (its a giant display of faces (that change every 10 minutes or so) that appear to spit water out (its amazing). We rented bicycles on rode up and down the lakeside trail to ride the ferris wheel at the navy pier, and to spend the afternoon in the impressive Field Museum.
Here are a few pics from our visit to the White House a few weeks ago. A friend who just happens to be an officer in the Navy had a very special promotion ceremony that was held in the Vice Presidential Ceremonial Office, and we were fortunate enough to be invited to attend. He also took us on a West Wing tour of the White House the next day, which is not something just anyone has access to.
Well, somehow its been nearly five months since I’ve posted an update about the new house. (The house we’ve now been living in for nearly that long.) We’ve been so busy (mostly with work) I might not have noticed, except that the lack of posting about my life on the internet has been pointed out to me by several people:) Ahem. So, by request, here are some highlights of house related activity since we received the CO at the end of March:
Naturally, we took a small trip on the motos to go watch the much hyped 2017 solar eclipse. Kevin’s extended family own houses in the north Georgia mountains that just happened to be right in the path of totality. Not only did we get to visit with family, but some friends from FL drove up to join the party as well. I’m pretty sure my life should have more four day weekends like this one (sans rare eclipse events, of course:).
Obligatory start of trip photo – (first one from the new house:)
Just over a week ago, on Friday, March 31, 2017, we received the certificate of occupancy for our new house. (*lets out a huge sigh of relief*). This last week, the painters showed up for the final touch up, and to finish a few remaining items.
After years of planning and about 14 months of construction, House v2.0 is ready to move in!
Rather anti-climatically, the to-do list doesn’t seem to care about the much sought after government permit, and seems unaware that the CO is some sort of finish line. The hard-scaping (retaining walls and concrete driveway) still haven’t been started, which is making access to the house (and thus moving in) problematic. The project of getting internet properly connected is a seemingly never ending time suck. The loft ladder still needs handrails. I haven’t selected a backsplash tile for the kitchen. There are a few punch list items that need to be addressed. And so on (you’d be terribly bored if I listed everything). HOWEVER, we can move in any time! And so we will. Moving day is coming soon! Hurray!
Here is a little update on House 2.0:
The wood floors were finished a couple of weeks ago. They look great, although the process was not without some minor damage to existing trim work, posts, and kitchen cabinets:
The wood floors are 5-in white oak, and we intentionally chose a lower grade at #2. I’ve been surprised at how the flooring contractor, floor finisher, and others have commented on the floors; they seem really worried about the color variation and knots. I keep having to tell them we like that, and did it on purpose. I guess the trend is to try and have “perfect” looking wood floors? What’s the point in that? Its wood, not a synthetic material. We specifically wanted a more “rustic” look, and are pretty happy with the result. The floors are not stained, just sanded and finished with an oil based poly.
As of this week, the appliances are delivered, and installed. Except for the dishwasher, which is sitting forlornly in its packaging in the middle of the kitchen floor:
Grading – Our home site sits on a slope, so there was some grading work to do to make the water shed properly, and have the driveway make sense. We also had to run a few of the downspout drains underground. I really like the grading contractor, those guys are excellent at what they do. They really took their time with the laser surveyors level like they actually cared about making it right:
Other milestones: Both the unsightly construction dumpster and the construction power pole are gone.
The end of construction is finally in sight for House 2.0. The list of items required to get the CO is getting pretty short. Once the wood floors are finished (sanded and poly), I can have the appliances delivered and installed. Then the plumbers and electricians can come back to finish a few items and install the dishwasher. The HVAC system is still missing a couple of vent covers. But that’s it. Once those items are done, we’ll be able to call for inspection. The floor finisher should be able to start next week or the following, and then we’ll have to stay out of the house for almost two weeks. So, best case is the CO is still a month out.
The house has been slowly moving along. I’m struggling mightily to maintain patience with the contractor games at this point. They swear they’ll be done in the next (insert time frame here) amount of time, and then proceed to work 1 or 2 days that week (or 1/2 a day), and then not come back and finish. Our GC has cracked the whip this week however, so the electricians, HVAC, hardware, and plumbers have all been on site recently. Landscaping plans are also in the works.
The bath vanity counters were installed a couple of weeks ago. Most of the lighting fixtures and plumbing fixtures are in. (See the pics below, I may have had some fun with some of the lighting fixtures. We live on a timber farm, so pine trees are thematic:) We now have door handles, door stops, cabinets pulls and knobs, mirrors and medicine cabinets, and the screen porch now has a screen.
Progress on the house continues slowly along:
We’re indulging in a little smugness. It feels good to be right:) What follows is an explanation of the HVAC system in our new house, and the success that comes from doing some actual engineering design, as opposed to blindly applying ill-fitting and poor standard practice. The TL;DR version is that you really should run Manual J calcs on any building, including residential buildings, to determine the appropriate HVAC specs for that specific site, or you risk ending up with a really bad design that costs more and doesn’t work as well.
Basically, we were right, and everyone else was wrong, and this post is a garrulous “I told you so”. (I can’t imagine this interests very many people, consider yourself warned).
For the HVAC system at our new house, Kevin specified 2 one-ton Fujitsu ducted mini split heat pump units, one for each floor. We were told by several people, including the HVAC subcontractor, that the system would not work as designed for two reasons: 1) it wasn’t enough capacity for the size of the house, and 2) the specified ducts were too large, and therefore the air would move too slowly to ensure proper mixing. Basically, the heat pumps would not be large enough to adequately heat and cool the house, and there would be hotter and colder spots within the house. He told them to install it anyway, and we’ll see who’s right after the system is running.
I love watching when the neighbor’s horses are first let out after it snows. They seem to delight in it as much as dogs or kids:) It also reminds me that action photography is hard; all that galloping, bucking, rearing, rolling, and general “horsing” around is difficult to capture.
Happy New Year!
Obviously, our new house is not complete by the start of 2017. (Its ok, I promise). The latest estimate is that we’ll be able to get the CO in mid-February. After that, there will be many punch-list items/final details to tie up before we’ll want to move, so we’re not expecting to move for at least two months at this point.
For those who are asking about updates: I haven’t updated on the house because there hasn’t been much to share. Progress has been very slow. We figure no one was at the house at all for five out of the last eight weeks or so. However, starting last week, several subs were on site working, and its exciting to see progress resume.
Here is the house as of this weekend:
Needless to say at this point, we will not be in by the end of the year (and that’s ok). Right now, two of my bath vanity cabinets are delayed (a bit my fault), which will delay fabricating the vanity counter tops, which will delay installing the plumbing fixtures. I think that is the limiting factor. Perhaps we will be in by the end of January, which will be exactly 12 months (which is what we were told to expect), although I won’t be surprised if we don’t move until February. Regardless, we’re getting close!
The kitchen counters were installed yesterday! The pics below don’t really do them justice, partially because they are covered in dust and I haven’t cleaned them.
The kitchen counters are soapstone. For those not familiar, it is a natural stone that has been used for counter tops for over a hundred years, in farmhouse kitchens especially, and other industrial applications. When choosing a kitchen counter top material, I vacillated back and forth between quartz (industry term for man-made stone), and soapstone, and ended up doing a lot of research about the pros and cons of each material. At this point, I am really happy that I chose soapstone, as the counters are gorgeous, and I really like the way soapstone feels to touch. The counters are really, really nice.
If you are curious about soapstone, here are some pros and cons, supported by a few links at the bottom:
House construction is moving along nicely:
Fyi, the camera plays tricks with colors. On my monitor, the house looks more green in the above photo than I think it does in real life.