Vermont is a beautiful state. The Green Mountains, of course, plus beautiful valleys speckled with farmland. A rural state, it is said there are more cows and moose in Vermont than people. We saw plenty of cows, but no moose. Probably a good thing, at least from the perch of a motorbike.
These signs are seen all over Vermont, but, where are the moose?
Vermont has ten designated Scenic By-Ways that run north to south and east to west, showcasing the state’s natural beauty and small town Americana. Generally, traffic is very light, except when traveling through the population centers of Brattleboro, Rutland and Burlington. Another contention for some riders is this:
Speed limits in Vermont are low. Secondary highways, like all the Scenic By-ways and side roads, are 50 MPH or less. The interstate highways of I-89 and I-91 are 55 MPH. So, if you can’t drive 55 (and less), you may have a problem in Vermont. This is a rural state. You don’t have to worry too much about cars, but farm tractors and farm animals in the road around a blind curve can really ruin your day.
Today we are visiting a big hole in the ground on the Crossroad of Vermont Scenic By-way, US 4. This by-way crosses the Green Mountains (which run right up the middle of Vermont) from Rutland to White River Junction. We will only be riding part of it, as our start point is well east of Rutland. Jon is joining us on his VFR, Roo and I on the RT.
The big hole in the ground is the Quechee Gorge, just outside of White River Junction. Quechee Gorge was formed from glacial activity more than 13,000 years ago. The Ottauquechee River runs 165 feet below the bridge we cross over, and is part of the Quechee Gorge State Park. If you have been to the canyons of the American West, like the Grand Canyon or the Canyonlands of Utah, this is no great shakes. But here in the East, this is as good as it gets.
This is a major tourist destination, and as we arrived, traffic was insane. Unfortunately, there was no where to park our bikes, so no photos were taken. I pulled a couple of photos from the web to showcase the beauty of this place.
Motoring on, with myself and Roo in the lead, we turned off onto some unknown backroads heading south. A precarious move at times here in Vermont, as a lot of roads off the main drag can quickly become dirt rural routes. This boy don’t do dirt, especially two-up on a big sport-touring machine. We figured we were ok, as the road still had painted lines and a state route designation.
Hunger was starting to make itself known as we came into the one stop sign town of Hartland, Vermont. Sitting at the stop sign waiting for the huge procession of three vehicles to pass, I caught a fleeting glimpse of the word diner in my peripheral vision. Quickly scooting the RT across the intersection, we parked our bikes and walked over to what looked like the only game in town for eating out, hoping they were still serving.
The Hartland Diner
This place was fantastic. Very hippie-esque with a humorous political bent. Just don’t know how else to describe it. The owner wrote and designed the menus, which were absolutely hysterical. Food was great! She also has a diner-saur fixation!
Jon & Roo waiting to order.
Each table is equipped with a copy of the U.S. Constitution and diner-saurs.
Diner-saurs. No kidding. Fascinating.
Very 50’s/60’s beatnick, hippie decor, and, of course, Bernie political posters abound. It is Vermont, after all.
Back on the motorbikes and heading south to Stratton Mountain, the VFR in the lead. Tonight dinner will be early as we have two seminars to attend. At all our STAR annual events, motorcycle related seminars are presented two of the four evenings. Topics range from moto travel, safety, gear, repairs, farkles, and everything in between.
Today is Roo’s day off the bike. Whenever we travel by motorcycle, Roo likes to have at least one day of relaxing and just putting around. Today is the club’s “lunch ride”, a pre-planned route to a destination where lunch is provided by the club. The destination for this STAR lunch ride is the largest ski area in the eastern U.S: Killington Resort.
Killington Resort is comprised of six mountain peaks, has 4,124 feet of elevation with a 3000 foot vertical drop, and the longest on-snow season in the eastern U.S. Great numbers if you are a skier. We are not. However, the Killington Classic Motorcycle Rally is held the end of August each year for those who would rather roll than slide down the mountain.
Jon and I arrived at Lookout Tavern, part way up the hill, and joined others from our group for a buffet lunch. Knowingly or not, Jon had a stow-away on board his bike who promptly joined us for lunch.
Look Out Tavern, Killington, Vermont
“Looks good Mr. Bob. Mind if I join you?”
Yeah. Weird, I know. More on that dude later.
After lunch, Jon and I took the quickest route back to Stratton Mountain, as we both had another date with the American Honda Demo Team. This time, the NC700X was already reserved and unavailable, so I folded myself onto a CBR5ooR sport bike.
I had never ridden a sport bike before. It was fun…….. for the one-half hour ride. By then I was ready to get off. I didn’t like the ergonomics, but I knew that going in. What sort of surprised me was the “twitchiness”, or the quick turn-in of the steering. Also, the power band was very narrow, resulting in almost constant shifting. But, the bike is designed for working the gears through the curves, not eating up long distance miles. It was fun, though.
Clean up, find The Roo, dinner, and attend a few more seminars. Tomorrow, Roo and I begin a ride through Norman Rockwell’s America on Vermont’s most famous Scenic by-way.
Next post: Scenic Route 100 By-way, Small town America, One more turn on the NC700X, Mr. Happy steals the show, STAR Closing Ceremonies and Banquet, a super star at STAR!