48 States Down

The last of the 48 States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey)

In May of 2021 I had planned to knock out the remaining states with my bike, I knew it was early in the year and the Northeast was going to be a bit chilly, but I figured what’s the worse that could happen? I planned the trip safely after my second Covid-19 vaccination; the kids were still in school; my wife had just finished her college classes so the time to go was right then.

It was early May and on the way to Ohio the temperature just kept dropping with ranges between 45-55 degrees (it snowed 2 days after I left Cleveland). I had expected it to be chilly, but it was outright cold most of the ride. I dropped by a friend’s house and borrowed Duct Tape to cover all the vents in my gloves and kit to keep the cold wind out.

Minion tape over Vents (very cold ride)

To make a little time I was just hitting the interstate until I got closer to the new states, but two days of Interstate and cold weather was making for a miserable trip experience.  I notice a large GREEN area on the GPS screen that sort of looked like it was between me and my waypoint – “why not try to go through it instead of around it” I thought to myself it can’t be any worse.  The large green area in fact turned out to be the Adirondacks and it was fantastic.  The Adirondacks allowed me to slow down, warm up and have a fantastic riding experience.  2 lane highway that meandered itself around and at times I was the only one on the road.  It’s rare that you have the road to yourself with nice weather and stunning views, it was fantastic and just what I needed. Lake Placid turned out to be a cool place and when I saw a sign for Ticonderoga I thought “ohhh yes lets give that a look”. 

Ticonderoga

The Adirondacks is where I really started to slow down and get into the ride, it takes a couple of days to just start being “in the ride” and what a great piece of country to explore.

Whitehall, NY birthplace of USA Navy

For the trip I had programmed 1 waypoint per state to ensure I didn’t miss a state as I snaked around the country.  From then on, I did my typical “wander mode” trick of GPS AVOID TOLLS routing. The biggest bang for the buck is when the GPS says there are “tolls along route” and it asks to re-calculate without tolls.  If you want to have a fun ride when the GPS reports avoiding tolls will add 2 hours and 100 miles to the route always choose that longer alternate route.

I made it to Vermont and stayed the night, the next morning I made it across New Hampshire and into Maine (and it started to warm up a little bit I hit 60s and 70s a few times. Then the long haul of Maine to Massachusetts, all was going well, it was starting to warm up and my brain was getting more and more into the ride (less about passing cars and more ambling about).  I jumped onto the Interstate to avoid Boston Center, and that’s when the “Adventure” part of the story happened. Interstate 95 south, just west of Boston my Motorcycle broke down on Saturday afternoon.

It was about 2pm and the battery warning light came on, then the ABS warning light, then the Lamp warning light and then the dashboard shut down and then bike lost power.  I was somehow able to make it to the side of the Interstate in breakneck traffic without break lights or turn signals.

Locked up Speedo

The bike would not respond to anything, so I got my position and called AAA for a tow truck.  I had a couple of hours before every dealer in the are closed for weekend and was in a bit of a panic.  However, it did not go as simple as it could have because Boston had just renumbered all their exists and the tow truck company kept calling me to make sure I was where I said I was.
The Tow truck showed up, we got the bike loaded but because of Covid-19 I could not ride in cab and had to call an Uber.  I managed to meet my bike at the Boston BMW dealer and check the bike in with 30 minutes to spare.  All I had to do then was find a hotel, make sure I had all my stuff and get another Uber and wait. 

Boston Tow Truck

Saturday night, Sunday, and Monday where all based out of the hotel, lucky I got a Residence inn which allowed me to cook some of my own meals and save a bit of money.  The internet was good, and I got caught up on Laundry.

Finally on Tuesday I got the call from the dealer and headed in, however upon arrival the good news had changed to bad.  I thought it was going to be a couple of hundred-dollar service and a battery, but it turned out to be the stator. 

Supposedly this stator was going to take weeks to fix because they were backlogged and would require a complete engine break down to get to the stator.  I had no real way to verify anything they were telling me and was faced with a couple of options.

  1. Have them take weeks to fix it, and trust that they did the engine break down and rebuild right. (I could fly home then fly back and finish the trip sometime (but my entire summer was booked))
  2. Rent a truck – load the bike up and drive it home (sounded like no fun)
  3. Buy a new motorcycle and finish the trip (hoping to never need to ride this way again)

A lot of the options seemed like spending a lot of money and not finishing a trip.  If the bike had broken down within 200 miles from my house it would have been a different story completely.  In running the numbers, I had to think about how much money and time I wanted to dump on a bike with 50,000 miles on it.  I also had to think about the time involved and still had 3 states still not checked off the list.

I decided to look at the inventory and see what they had – if they had the “perfect bike” I would consider it serendipity and keep the trip alive (although costly).

The had a brand-new 2021 BMW R 1250 GS in red, white, and blue with gold wheels Rallye edition.

New Ride – old bags, windshield, and tank bag

I pretty much made up my mind right then and looked for warning signs such as feathers, menacing sky’s or tinges in my gut and then called it serendipitous travel and pulled the trigger. Figured I could move the luggage and windshield over and keep moving.  I love my ALT Rider Luggage plate, but the heated seats seemed like something that I should keep and so left the luggage plate on the old bike.

I am not sure if you have ever traded in a dirty and broken bike, while traveling but I can assure you they ascended on me like vultures.  I was able to get the wire transfer figured out, but the title was still in a safety deposit box back in Kansas.  My wife kindly went to the bank and then the fed ex office and I headed back to the hotel for yet another night while I waited on paperwork to cross the country.

MAX BMW waiting room (under construction)

Wednesday afternoon (a full week into the trip) I was able to ride again after being grounded since Saturday. I called MAX BMW and scheduled my 600-mile break in server for the following morning (Thursday).

MAX BMW Service Department

I then took the new bike and blasted through Rhode Island like it was not even there, then into Connecticut and then New York City via Yonkers and The Bronx – I considered Manhattan, but I was starting to get a little worn out.  I blasted across into New Jersey going past Newark and figured “ya this counts” turned around and headed back into Connecticut to spend the night next to MAX BMW. Turns out this was a brand-new MAX BMW location and probably why they were able to get me so fast and it only took them about an hour to do the service and unlock the rest of the pro ride modes.  MAX BMW (unlike Boston BMW) was a pretty great experience, and I was back on the road by 10am on Thursday.

MAX BMW Showroom (under construction)

I had called home and the word was that if I got in any later then Saturday, I had a week of rain to look forward to.  With this in mind, I just rode 600+ mile days and hammered down back to Kansas City. The BMW R 1250 GS Rallye is a great bike – nonetheless as I set here typing this up it’s been a week since that that trip and my ass still hurts.  Breaking in a BMW seat should not be done in 1,500+ miles over 2.5 days.

Just Hawaii and Alaska left to do, and I am waiting for the Pandemic to cool way down before I even think about doing those.

Boba Fett with 80,000+ miles on him

One thing I am still trying to figure out is the “keyless ride” and I am not sure I am a big fan of it. They seemed to fix something that was not a problem and now is a problem. Where do you keep your key? I have this little Boba Fett Key chain with at least 80,000 miles on it and I have no idea where to keep him, but figure he still needs to be on the bike somehow.

Not completed as planned but it’s all done – Bellow is a video of the trip made from the tracking location points of the Garmin InReach mini.

Garmin InReach GPS tracking animation