Wandering out east

This was going to be a full day. For group activities, we knew we had a lunch ride and a steak dinner on the schedule. Between those appointments was going to be an impromptu meet with one of Karen’s friends up in Baltimore. Would the weather be too hot? Would the thunderstorms leave us alone? Only time would tell.

A distinct disadvantage to camping is that you have to plan well if you like to sleep in. While a tent is a compact and workable shelter, it turns into a miniature oven when sitting in direct sunlight. Consequently, a seasoned camper doesn’t just pick any old level spot on the ground to set up their tent.

This is where I have to demonstrate my geekiness (yet again), and give a shameless plug to the Pocket Universe iPhone application. I hold up the iPhone to the sky and Pocket Universe uses the compass and gyroscope in the iPhone to show the sky that will appear in that direction. Then I fast-forward the time of the view to sunrise and note where the sun will rise and where it will track through the morning. Using this information, I chose to pitch our tent relative to a tree such that the tree would provide shade well into the morning hours.

I only note this act of careful and nerdy planning because it allowed Karen and I to enjoy a luxuriously lazy morning, dozing in the cozy confines of our tent. When we did finally rise to greet the day (and our fellow MAMMARY attendees), we were well rested and revived after our severe baking during the hot trip the day before.

Breakfast goodies had been out and available for a while now but there was plenty left for us late-risers. Mitch wanted to be heading out to lunch at our favorite crab cake supplier, Stoney’s, around 11am. That left us plenty of time to eat, take a shower, and get dressed for the ride. Those that had elected to stay at local hotels arrived throughout the morning and even Kuda showed up for the ride out to lunch.

Mitch and Kathy took point and led us on a circuitous route to Broomes Island via Chesepeake Beach. It was a gorgeous sunny day, plenty warm with a nice breeze to keep it from being oppressive. We managed to keep the group of bikes together as we rode through the rolling forested hills off Chesapeake Bay.

Upon arrival at Stoney’s, we promptly took over three shaded tables on the deck overlooking the water. It is worth noting that the tables at Stoney’s have changed; instead of rectangular picnic tables, they now have nice new octagonal tables that are very well suited to keeping everybody at the table involved in conversation. We ordered drinks, one of their excellent Bloody Marys for me and a glass of merlot for Karen. Jinx was crestfallen when the pretty little waitress reported that they had no Canadian Club for his CC & 7 but was willing to let his drink be made with Seagram’s.

Aside: Do they boil the t-shirts that the waitresses wear at Stoney’s? For a second I thought I was at Hooters.

As we waited for our food, we caught up on each others’ lives while watching a variety of boats travel up and down the bay. We watched, and commentated (naturally), as a captain in a big yellow go-fast cigarette skillfully docked his craft at the Stoney’s dock. We also traded a few humorous thoughts while watching a jet ski driver have some problems and crawl back and forth over his female passenger to fix the problem. (I think he was doing it on purpose.)

The food arrived and Steve Tuttle had to take his obligatory macro photo of his plate. The crab cakes that Karen and I had were excellent, a lightly browned sphere almost as big as a softball and made up of almost entirely crab. Can you say, “yummy”? I knew you could.

We had arranged to meet Karen’s friend Paul and his girlfriend Tassie in Baltimore between 2:30-3:00pm and it was already after 1pm. Consequently, Karen and I left a little before the rest of the group to wander up the east coast towards Baltimore. Somewhere during the ride, I noticed that the Cruiser’s tachometer went spastic and the turn signals and horn stopped working. I figured that this meant that some electrical connection in the accessories bus had some loose. I still had ignition (the Cruiser was still running, duh) and the lights were still on, so we drove on into Baltimore.

To complicate matters slightly, we had to navigate right past Camden Yards as fans were arriving for a Baltimore Orioles game later that afternoon. There was a little additional congestion but nothing that kept us in stop-and-go traffic for long. We made our way through the streets and eventually found the target restaurant. Miracle of miracles, there was actually a narrow parking space directly across the street from our destination and I was able to squeeze the Cruiser into the available space (it was even a legal space, wonderful!).

We spent the next few hours hanging out with Paul and Tassie, enjoying refreshing beverages and a goat cheese appetizer while catching up and watching the diverse collection of characters and vehicles the passed by. Time passed quickly and soon it was time for Tassie to start her shift at the sushi restaurant across the street. It was also time for Karen and I to get back down the coast or we would miss the aforementioned steak dinner waiting for us back at Mitch and Kathy’s.

While Karen finished her conversations with her friend Paul, I took a few minutes to take the dash cover off the Cruiser and check the wiring. It took little more than a cursory glance to see the problem; a broken ring terminal for the accessories bus at the ignition switch. The old rigid-mount Evos do tend to shake the hell out of the electrical components and this was a simple case of metal fatique on the connector. I used a needle-nose pliers to remove the broken end of the connector and sandwiched the bare copper of the stray wire between the other two ring terminals on that connection. It was a 10-minute fix that would be good enough to get us through the day.

We didn’t interpret the signs quite right leaving Baltimore and ended up exiting downtown on I395 instead of route 295. This added a few miles to the trip but still got us to I97 south. We needed to stop for gas and went on an unexpected circle-tour of the neighborhoods south of the airport trying to find a gas station. (You can see this loop on the trip route.) Where’s a station next to the exit when you need one?

The day’s ride was quite enjoyable. Between Mitch’s ride down to Stoney’s and the blast up to Baltimore and back, we’d covered 161 miles (see map at end of post).

We arrived back at Mitch and Kathy’s just in time. By the time we stowed our riding gear, the Ripinator was firing up the grill in preparation for the evening’s dinner. We had steak, twice-baked potatoes, grilled mushrooms and onions, baked beans, and rolls. Oh, there was salad too. It was a serious feast. Then came desert. There was way too much food. 🙂

After dinner the sunlight began to fade from the sky and conversation and laughter continued in the glow of a few oil lamps (and the porch light, but that’s not very interesting). Slowly in ones and twos the partiers wandered off to their room, hotel, or tent, and soon only snoring was heard in Mitch and Kathy’s backyard.

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