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I set out to ride the New England states with a few specific ideas in mind.

The six states that this region is comprised of would complete the “25 State Ride” I had planned a few months ago, before my arrival back in the USA, and within these states were places that I had always wanted to ride to. Some of them rather obscure, others well known to bikers and folk who wanted to travel the back roads of states known for their wilder regions.

Poughkeepsie is part of the history of our furniture factories back home.

Poughkeepsie is part of the history of our furniture factories back home.

I rode up into the Catskill Mountains, a region well known in boxing circles for it’s training camps where many former and present world champions had trained before their fights. Mike Tyson was just one of the fighters to have come from this area.

The area is heavily wooded, the road twisting gently through valleys and then back up onto the ridges en route, but it is hardly worth describing as “mountainous”… “Hilly” would best suit the Catskill’s.

One of those “obscure” destinations en route was the town of Poughkeepsie in upper New York state. I wanted to see this town for no other reason than the fact that for many years it had been linked to the success of the furniture factory that I had built and run for almost 20 years back in Swaziland.

Mrs Roosevelt's little boy is well respected in these parts...

Mrs Roosevelt’s little boy is well respected in these parts…

The Taylor Woodworking Company, was located here, and they built one of the best automated laminating presses it has been my pleasure to utilize !!

With two of these presses I installed in 1989, we laminated over 20 000 square metres of wooden boards every month (that’s 200 000 square feet in the old lingo !!), supplying not only our own furniture production, but all factories in many countries around the world.
The foundations of our business were built on these two long serving machines, and I hoped to meet the engineers who designed and built these robust and highly productive presses. I had written and sent many faxes and emails to them over the years, and had always received sound advice and spare parts, together with excellent service from the company.
I rode north up the Hudson River valley and crossed over the Franklin D. Roosevelt Bridge into Poughkeepsie, discovering as I did so that FDR. the 32nd president of the United States, must have had close ties to this community, judging by the amount of infrastructure that was named after him  !! I have subsequently discovered that the inventor of Scrabble, Alfred Butts was born here, and had he been alive and in town, I would have given him a swift kick in the pants !! And that’s all I have to say about Scrabble…

Crossing the Hudson River.

Crossing the Hudson River.

I spoke to two people who said that had lived in the town for a long time, but neither of them knew where the Taylor Woodworking factory was located… I rode around the industrial area, hoping to see signs of a woodworking plant that I could make inquiries at, but all to no avail.

I eventually gave up and headed into Connecticut to continue my ride…

Skirting the storm front...

Skirting the storm front…

Connecticut would be the first of the New England group of states that we would ride in.

Connecticut would be the first of the New England group of states that we would ride in.

The name “Connecticut” originated from the Mohegan tribe of Indians that inhabited this area long before the settlers arrived.

It means “Long River Place”, or “Beside the Long Tidal River”. It was the 5th state adopted into the Union of States way back in 1788.

Our very own Sol Kerzner built the Mohegan Sun Casino complex in Uncasville, which is one of the largest of it’s kind in the USA.
The first sewing machine, revolver, portable typewriter, ice making machine, frisbee, vacuum cleaner and submarine, among many other “firsts” were produced here…
A state filled with history to be sure !!
I tried to stay off the main highways and took as many country as was possible, making my way down to the coast where I planned to stop near the town of Essex, voted one of the Best Small Towns of America.
All the way across the state, I dodged a massive weather system that was coming down from the Great Lakes region and after reaching the coast near Essex, I settled into a small motel just before the storm arrived…
I turned on the TV and listened while weather forecasters warned of the danger of flooding all along the coast and continued giving updates for the remainder of that evening…
The storm, when it arrived, brought rain of biblical proportions, and long after the worst of it was over, it still drizzled on and off for two days…
Rather than ride in the rain all day, I elected to hole up in the motel and work on my blog. It also gave me time to properly plan the next few days of my ride to Camden in Maine.

I spent a few hours in the small town of Essex in between thunderstorms....

I spent a few hours in the small town of Essex in between thunderstorms….

The River Museum captures the history of life on the Connecticut River.

The River Museum captures the history of life on the Connecticut River.

During the morning of my second day at the motel, the weather cleared, allowing me to make the short ride to Essex to check out the town.

I spent some time down on the waterfront, chatting to a few guys who weer lounging around on the dock, as well as an old woman who was fishing there, using four different rods… When I asked what she did when she had more than one fish on the line, she shrugged her narrow shoulders and said she did not know, as it had never happened before…
I laughed with her and suggested she find another place to fish if four lines never produced more than one fish at a time…!!

Despite the threat of more rain, tourists still flocked to the riverfront...

Despite the threat of more rain, tourists still flocked to the riverfront…

Keeping an eye on thee weather was a constant, and a number of locals I chatted to warned that there was more rain on the way. As I made my way back to the bike, I saw a small group of guys standing around it, and as I approached they greeted me enthusiastically and began firing the usual questions my way…

I spent time chatting to Todd Schenk, who bought and sold boats in Bridgeport, a short distance along the coast. He asked if I would be willing to met his son, who would be interested to meet me. With time on my hands, I readily agreed and followed him to his home in Ivoryton, where I met Tyler. He had just completed work on a yacht and was in the process of joining another boat for the summer season.

I met with Todd Schenk and his son Tyler, both working in the boating industry..

I met with Todd Schenk and his son Tyler, both working in the boating industry..

I mentioned that my eldest daughter had just completed sailing around the world on the super-yacht she had worked on and watched as his eyes lit up… This was obviously something that he would have liked to do too… We spoke about my travels and Todd’s collection of motorcycles standing the garage, and after joining Todd for a quick drink inside the house, I headed back to Niantic, happy to have made their acquaintance and give young Tyler a bit of advice about grasping opportunities with both hands and giving it all you’ve got…

One of the strangest weather conditions that I have experienced...

One of the strangest weather conditions that I have experienced…

I rode down the highway and watched as a very concentrated batch of cloud moved in from the north and settled over the town of Niantic… To the north and south of this front, the skies were clear, but dead ahead, another storm waited to unleash it’s fury on us…

The clouds gathered directly above Niantic, and then dumped their load over the next few hours...

The clouds gathered directly above Niantic, and then dumped their load over the next few hours… This photo was taken at 4.00 pm !!

When I bought this packet of spicy beef jerky, I thought, "How hot could this be...?" I was soon to find out !

When I bought this packet of spicy beef jerky, I thought, “How hot could this be…?” I was soon to find out !

Prolonged bath time for the Big Fella...

Prolonged bath time for the Big Fella…

I dashed into a small convenience store near my motel; bought an armful of “provisions”; then hot-footed it back to my room just as the first huge drops of rain began pelting my back and shoulders…

I stayed in my room for the next 12 hours, while it rained solidly…

The owner of the hotel, who had been born in Kenya and later lived in India before emigrating to the USA, spent time raking through memories of his childhood in Nairobi, and smiling with delight when I mentioned places that he had known in his youth.

We both agreed that India was not a place for drivers and bikers that suffered from heart related illnesses and laughed about the craziness of Indian motorists…

After three nights at the motel, I was finally ready to move on… The weather had cleared and the next few days were meant to be sunny and warm.

Patricia was taking a bus from New York that same day and changing buses in Boston. There was a faint possibility that I could reach Boston before her, and meet her before she headed for Maine on the next leg of her journey…