Scoot Commute

Jersey girl rides back home to Providence, Rhode Island

Posted in 2011 New Jersey, Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa) by sbahn on 2011/06/01
My mom's cat, CC

My mom's cat, CC

I headed back to Rhode Island on Wednesday morning, after breakfast at the Medport Diner. I forgot to take a pic of the food (pork roll, mmm) and I should have asked my mom to take a picture of me all geared up and ready to head out, but I didn’t. My route back was to include sections of the route down that I didn’t get to take, including going into the Brendan Byrne State Forest (aka Lebanon State Forest to me), a couple of Wildlife Management Areas and then onto the New Jersey Turnpike to the Parkway, crossing into New York at the Harriman State Park.

I headed toward Tabernacle and wound up on the little dirt road that parallels Route 70 near Leisuretown. In all the years that I lived right off this road, I only remember riding my bike on it a few times. It doesn’t really go anywhere. Part of it is paved, part of it is that soupy South Jersey sand.

Somewhere in Brendan Byrne State Forest, New Jersey

Somewhere in Brendan Byrne State Forest, New Jersey

I entered into Brendan Bryne and stopped at the ranger station to snag a map. Unfortunately the station was temporarily closed, something to do with the ranger going to Trenton to talk about what maps the state should be using. As I was walking back to the bike, this guy asks if I need help. We started talking and it turns out he’s got something to do with enduros and the Baja 1000. It’s been a while so I no longer remember his name (sorry!), but he showed me pictures of him in a brochure he was carrying in his truck. He was trying to convince me to get the little BMW, the 450 thing. His friend never opened his mouth. I don’t even know what we were talking about, just a very weird conversation. I eventually got on my bike and he thought the little stuffed mouse I have zip-tied to the handlebar was cute.

An older couple in a car stopped me at one point to ask for directions, and when I told them which direction I thought they needed to go in, the guy said, “Oh no, too many puddles and potholes.” I don’t know what they were thinking, driving around in a Camry on rutted up dirt roads. The roads in Brendan Bryne were nice; some paved, some that nice, hard-pack yellow dirt.

Somewhere lost in South Jersey

Somewhere lost in South Jersey

I continued on with a sort of direction and wound up along some power lines. I knew they would eventually get to a road, but it was quite a slough to get through all the mud and enormous puddles.

There was a lot of this

There was a lot of this

Success Lake, southern New Jersey

Success Lake, southern New Jersey

I scooted along Fort Dix and turned into the New Jersey Wildlife and Game Refuge, riding toward Success Lake. The roads were wide and there was almost no traffic. I stopped at the lake to enjoy the view and check out my map. I was actually on the correct route!

South Jersey sand at Success Lake

South Jersey sand at Success Lake

I rode into the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area where the road felt like I really shouldn’t be on it, but it is a legal road. It was very peaceful and a decent ride; the sand wasn’t sucking out my soul and there were no rocks. Why would a girl not be happy? It was here that I passed by a guy with his son on the back of a 4-wheeler.

Ostrich at the back fence to Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey

Ostrich at the back fence to Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey

“Hmmm? Is that an ostrich?” I said to myself. Sure enough, it wasn’t just one ostrich, it was a whole bunch of ostriches. I had completely forgotten that Great Adventure has a wild animal park, and I had found the road that skirts along the back of the park. It’s an easy dirt road and I had a better view than the paying GA customers as the animals were closer to me.

I turned onto Perrineville Road and got behind a local police car. He was driving about 7 miles an hour; infuriating! I stayed behind him, slowly crawling along, and then stopped at the stop sign to check my map because the street sign didn’t match the road I needed to turn onto.

The cop had already turned onto the main road and then stopped suddenly, causing the car coming up behind him to stop. I don’t think that the cop liked that I had pulled over. So he swung back around and pulled up next to me.

“Hello, Officer!” I cheerily shouted as I pulled out my water bottle to have a drink. “Some pretty roads around here.” He asked if I needed directions and I said that I was just taking a quick break before heading toward the Turnpike. He said he was patrolling for ATVs and dirt bikes. “Oh, I’m legally plated,” I offered. I will say there was some nice (illegal) single track in the forest so I don’t blame him for taking special interest, but really, a girl on a pink and black bike with a big pink bag on the back and street tires is not going to be causing too much trouble.

Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, southern New Jersey

Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, southern New Jersey

With that I headed toward the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area. Is that not the best name for a park ever?! The park was busy with a bunch of fishermen, and the road I needed was closed. I wandered around some and eventually made my way onto the road I needed.

I saw some more Detour signs a bit further on, but ignored them as I had my route. Well, the road was closed with a big Jersey barrier across the way on both ends. There was definitely room at the end of the other barrier to get around and the road inbetween the barriers was fine so I don’t really know why the road was closed. I got the brilliant idea of riding the bike down into the ditch next to the road that was filled with mucky water to get around the barrier, then ride the bike up the embankment and back onto the road.

Feldsher Road is closed, apparently, but that didn't stop the supermoto

Feldsher Road is closed, apparently, but that didn't stop the supermoto

Down I dove the front tire, which made a sucking sound as the mud enveloped it. I let the rear wheel slip down sideways as I opened the throttle a bit to get some motion going. I didn’t want to get stuck in the mud. Success! I was around the barrier but still riding along in the water. I turned the front wheel toward the embankment and gave some gas. The bike skidded along the side of the road for a little bit until the front tire finally gripped onto the pavement. I got the back wheel up and was successfully sitting on the bike inbetween the two barriers. “I did it!” I thought to myself. It was an easy ride down to the next barrier where I was able to ride around it on the pavement. I don’t know how smart it was, but I didn’t get stuck.

Now I was headed toward the New Jersey Turnpike. I have an unnatural fear of toll booths, but I easily collected the ticket and shoved it into my map pocket. I stopped at the Joyce Kilmer rest area to gas up and have a stretch. This guy in one of the 18-wheelers wouldn’t stop staring so I didn’t stretch for long. He was freaking me out a bit.

Not much to report on the Turnpike except it was my first time on the bike. I didn’t get killed. I didn’t drop the money when paying the toll. And then I got on the Garden State Parkway. The toll guy was also a rider and thought it was a bit cold to be riding. I looked at him like he was crazy because I didn’t even have my insulated jacket on. He said he doesn’t ride unless it’s above 70F. All those wasted days.

Harriman State Park, New York State

Harriman State Park, New York State

From the GSP it was on to the New York State Thruway and then into Harriman State Park. I took the Bear Mountain Bridge and then headed into a little town on the other side for gas. It was one of those old-fashioned kind with the numbers on a spindle and a guy pumping for you. He gladly let me pump and wanted to know all about my little trip. He was concerned I would be riding in the dark as it was already late and I still had to get through all of Connecticut and most of Rhode Island. I pointed to the front of the bike and said, “It’s an HID headlamp. I’ll be fine.”

I hopped on I-84 for a little bit, where I stopped at the rest area for a yogurt and granola bar snack. No one talked to me which was a first. Not even the couple on a bike. I should probably tone down my scowl.

I rode some really nice roads through Connecticut, sweet, tiny backroads along streams and through one-trick pony towns. It’s really not that bad of a state if you get off the highways. I crossed over the Connecticut River in East Haddam where a swing bridge transverses the water. This was definitely something I wanted to do. There’s a (non-working) swing bridge in Providence so I wanted to compare them.

East Haddam Connecticut Swing Bridge

East Haddam Connecticut Swing Bridge

By now it was about 8:00pm and quite dark. I could tool around on the back streets or hop on I-395 and get to one of the major east-west routes into Rhode Island. I chose the latter as I was getting tired and I didn’t want the boyfriend to worry.

I got home around 9:30pm after 12 and a half hours on the road and 399 miles.

Route from South Jersey to Providence, Rhode Island with my analog GPS

Route from South Jersey to Providence, Rhode Island with my analog GPS

The maps I was carrying

The maps I was carrying

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