The Notier Notes
Our Sunday Scoop
We had just finished our final Overland Expo with a bang, and were simply loving our time on the East Coast. Having never been there before on the motorcycle, we figured this was our chance to explore and ride through a region of the country that was new to us - the Northeast.
We kept hearing about the new BDR out there, which stands for Backcountry Discover Route. It's a road that has been carefully mapped and plotted out, and, as you guessed, it goes through the backcountry of the state. It hits up a lot of off-road, but mostly weaves its way along the most pleasant and scenic roads through the rural areas, places which people normally would never get to see.
BDR roads have popped up all over the United States, but their newest one is called the Northeast BDR, and it goes through New York, then slightly twists through a corner of Connecticut, heads into Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and finally, it finishes in Maine. It's a long route, that can take anywhere from eight days to a couple weeks, depending on how you ride and plan it out. Knowing that we like to go slow, we figured we'd be around the two-week mark, but there was a problem for us. It was already mid-October, and the weather was changing.
Summer was coming to an end, and the trees were turning colors, the plants were dying back, and an intolerable amount of spiders were popping up everywhere, suggesting that this was definitely fall. Luckily for us, fall in the Northeast is, by many people's opinions, the best time to visit and see the fall foliage colors. But unfortunately for us, this kaleidoscope transformation is quick, and once it's over, it becomes frightfully cold. And we had the entire ride back to Illinois from wherever we'd end up to look forward to.
So the plan was to start on the BDR, and go for as long as we felt comfortable. We knew we probably wouldn't finish the whole thing, but what actually ended up happening... well, it was unexpected to say the least.
From the Expo in Virginia, we rode up to New York, stopping briefly at a family friend's house in Philadelphia. And we started to notice something about the East Coast right off the bat - traffic on the interstates was terrible. It seemed that it didn't matter where we were, what time of day, or which direction we were going in, it was all bad. Semi's rushing past like screaming banshees, extremely irate drivers trying to get two inches ahead of everyone else, construction and lane crunches and speed traps and stop-and-go sections... all the things we hated most.
So once we got to the start of the NE BDR, it was a breath of fresh air for us.
It started in Hancock, New York, a small and picturesque historic town on the banks of the Delaware River. And then the road zigzagged from one side of the river to the other, occasionally dipping into Pennsylvania, only to cross another bridge and get back into New York.
Though some of the road was either paved or perfectly-graded gravel, other parts were not as well maintained (which is sometimes that we like). But on this occasion, we found ourselves not really enjoying these tough technical sections, only because Tim couldn't see the road beneath all the fallen leaf cover. If you can't see the rocks and ruts and loose sections, and you can't pick a line, riding off-road can become very difficult. It's a bit like riding through a giant murky puddle over loose rocky terrain - you just don't know what's under there, and you end up hitting a lot of unsuspected surprises.
"Maybe coming here in the fall wasn't the best idea," I told Tim over the intercom.
"But, look at the amazing colors!" he replied.
He was right of course - the fall foliage was stunning!
That first day was perfect, and it wasn't just the colorful tree leaves that made it that way. It was everything combined. It was a feel, a tranquil mood, a serenity of the forests.
It might seem like there's only one type of terrain in the Northeast - just forest. But actually, there are a lot of differences between all the various types of forests. Some are white birch bark stands, all straight and narrow, and blanketed in yellow leaves. Some aspen groves are dense and tangled with their round leaves twisting and fluttering, making incoherent whispers. And then there's the pine forests that stand tall and wide, like the pillars to a silent temple.
Some forests have ferns covering the floor like a deciduous prehistoric jungle. Other parts of the forest are woven together by bubbling creeks and streaming waterfalls. Then there's the sloping granite cliffs and bedrocks, splotched in light-green lichen, and fuzzy from fairy gardens of moss. And all of that is cut up by occasional farmsteads - old rain-stained barns, or fields with horses grazing. Hills of pumpkin patches, or ready-to-be-harvested corn of browned and bristly stalks.
And for every farm that's still being used, we found plenty that had been abandoned. Places that looked gorgeously derelict, with old 1920's cars rusting within the weeds. Old stone walls would slither and wind their way through the forest, sometimes sectioning off an overgrown cemetery of leaning headstones. It was all perfectly creepy and beautiful for the Halloween season.
We found a campground that night in what I would call a grassy glen next to a little stream. And as we ate our packed dinner of hummus, tortillas, and pistachios, we reminisced about how incredible our ride had been so far.
"Let's go all the way to Maine," I said. "We should try to finish the BDR, because I'm loving every second of it!"
"Yes, absolutely!" Tim said back with a smile.
But what we didn't know at the time was that this fall foliage that we were seeking, was actually going to be our downfall.
Join us next week for our final chapter on the Northeast BDR, and the disaster that ended our seasonal fun.
In the meantime, check out our latest video about a very incredible ride we had through a part of the country we'd been meaning to explore for years - the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho - where we have another motorcycle mishap after a perfectly fantastic day.
Thank you everyone for all of your support! See you next week!
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