Pennsylvania Dutch Countryside Motorcycle Tour - 2009
The idea for this trip came from an article in a 2008 Road Runner Magazine that toured the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside. We loosley followed their trip choosing most of our own roads and sights. Our motorcycles were a 1980 Yamaha XS 1100 and a 1989 Honda Goldwing. Our weather was generally good although at times the temperatures were on the hot and sticky. The roads were good and the scenery wonderful.
Day 1: June 26, 2009 - Depart Jonathan's Home in Md. and arrive in York, Pa. 178 mi.
We departed Jonathan's home around 10 AM. We initially rode west on Md. 26 and then worked our way NW thru Taneytown to Gettysburg. We bypassed most of Gettysburg to the east on US 15 and then picked up MD. 34 on the north side of the city and rode to Bigleville, Pa. We then turned west on Md. 234 and stopped at the historic Round Barn near Cashtown. After spending nearly an hour inspecting the amazing structure we ate lunch at a small diner on US 30 and then rode west till turning north on Md. 233 to the Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The road was perfect for motorcycles and the scenery quite beautiful. We stopped briefly at Fuller Lake and then continued on to York, our days destination, via PA. 94 and 234. Ironically, the only heavy rain that we experienced on our 4 day trip occurred while we were inside a motorcycle dealership purchasing some spare parts.
Day 2: June 27, 2009 - Depart York, Pa. and arrive in Lewistown, Pa. 226 mi.
We left our hotel and rode several miles to the Harley Davidson factory and went on the 9:30 tour. Even though it was a weekend and not much work was being done, we thoroughly seeing the inside of the factory and the display of all the motorcycles in the large foyer. Next we rode to the Amish Farm and house in Lancaster, Pa. Again, the tour was fascinating. One interesting fact I learned is that the Amish cannot use any form of transportation that is faster than a horse. Skateboards, roller skates or rollerblades would be permitted. A bicycle would be too fast and not allowed. An upright scooter would also be acceptable. After the tour we ate at an upscale sandwich shop a horse shoe toss from the farm house. Also, right next to the farm was a Target. The old and the new right next to each other. We then headed north on PA 501 till we crossed PA 209 to Millersburg. I was riding Jonathans XS 1100 and it started running rough just after we made the turn to Millersburg. We stopped and tried to correct the problem to no avail. We switched bikes and resumed our ride west. We crossed the Sesquehanna River at Millersburg on a car ferry. $3 for each motorcycle and rider. The ferry was a throwback to another century or two as it had a shallow draft hull and was powered by a stern paddlewheel. The 20 minute ride was very relaxing. The only other passenger was a lone Harley Rider. After leaving the ferry we connected up with US 22/322 to Lewistown where we spent the night. We had great weather and beautiful scenery during the day. We saw numerous Amish horse and buggies on Pa. 501 north of Lancaster. We even saw an Amish man on an upright scooter going down the highway.
Day 3: June 28, 2009 - Depart Lewistown and arrive in Big Meadow, Va. 215 mi.
We left our lodging in the morning with no particular destination in mind. We knew we wanted to go south so we selected Pa. 655 as our route being that it kept the same number to the Maryland state line. The route was a good one as it started in a beautiful farming valley framed on either side my mountains. Gradually we climbed into the mountains giving us a good perspective on the changing topography and vegetation. While in the valley we saw more signs warning us of Amish horse and buggies, which we frequently did see. We also passed a winery (not open) and a candy shop named "N.S. Sweet Shop". We encountered a little rain in the mountains, but nothing of any significance. Somewhere around Saluvia we passed a silica mine with huge mounds of sugar white silica and several of the largest dump trucks we had ever seen. The tires alone must have been 9 feet in diameter. Several miles further, on the road shoulder, there was a soft drink machine with an extension cord running to a nearby cabin. We didn't have to leave the road to stop and get a coke. It was the first "drive by" I had seen. We ate lunch in Hancock, Md. and planned the rest of the day. We decided to keep heading south and ride the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. The 35 mph speed limit in the park gave us a good opportunity to enjoy the road and scenery at the same time. We passed several deer standing in the road oblivious to us or the oncoming cars. We stopped for the night at Big Meadow Inn located about 50 mi south of the parks north entrance. The lodge itself is a very rustic 1930s era stone and log hotel perched high on the Skyline Road with a tremendous view of the Shenandoah Valley and the Massanutten mountains to the west. At night the lights of Stanley, Va. twinkled several thousand feet below. Our room, while having a great view, had a wood floor, walls and ceiling. No TV, phone, or AC. Rustic would describe its ambiance. The food was very good and the highpoint of the evening was sitting on the outdoor patio watching the sun set behind the western mountains and seeing a very tame deer defoliating a bush around 15' from where we sat.
Day 4: June 30, 2009 - Depart Shenandoah NP and arrive at Jonathans home. 191 mi.
This was our travel day. We rode south on the Skyline Drive and exited the Park on Md. 133. We worked our way north passing thru the beautiful horse country surrounding Leesburg, Va. At Frederic, Me. We stopped for fuel and then rode the rest of the way home on I 70. The straight high speed interstate seemed a world away from the previous 3 days of beautiful, scenic, relaxing country roads.
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