To upstate New York, that is!
Kristin had a bachelorette party to attend over the weekend, leaving me free to my own devices. I had been noodling on a motorcycle camping trip since getting the bikes last fall, and following a handful of misfires earlier this summer the independence I would have it seemed like a fine time to load up the saddlebags with a tent and sleeping bag. This would not be the first trip camping off the back of my bike, but it would be the first one where I would be entirely detached from the world and making my own way as I saw fit.
Packing was simple enough, and I managed to fit everything I needed into two hard case side panniers and one half-filled weekender duffel.
The premise of the trip was two-fold:
- Camp and live off the back of my bike
- Grab pints of beer along the way
The camping part would be nicely satisfied by finding refuge in State Parks. The beer exists all over, so I needed only to string together some of my favorite breweries. The route unfolded:
The first stop was Suarez Family Brewing which makes perhaps the cleanest, crispiest, and tastiest lighter ales I have ever had. They had a delicious pilsner on draft the day I stopped in. Normally, I would turn up my nose at such a beer, me being a snob who dislikes pilsners given the vast majority of them they taste like Bud Light. Suarez makes the only pilsner in this country1 which does not taste like Bud Light, but instead tastes like good craft beer. It had a slightly fruity note, which gave way to a perfectly clean finish. I cannot recommend this brewery enough.
After a refreshing libation, I finished my route to arrive at Taconic State Park. I would say I chose Taconic because of some interesting reason, but I ended Day 1 there because they had an open spot for my tent and were the only ones in the area that did. (In the earlier planning stages of this trip I had looked into dispersed camping options, but settled on State Parks for their modern facilities such as running water.) Taconic was excellent in that regard, having an old iron ore mine which fills naturally these days with spring water, creating a refreshing lake. Did I mention this trip was during a heat wave? Ah, yeah, the lake was a joy to arrive at following a long day of riding fully clad in motorcycle gear.
Day two began with a hike to Bish Bash Falls, somewhere on the Massachusetts side of the New York border. The hike ran just shy of 1.5 miles out from my tent site, making it easy to get there and back in just over an hour. After a quick breakfast of granola and campsite coffee, I left an hour after sunrise and was back in time to pack up and be on the road around 9:30am. I really love camping for how easy it is to get up, pack up, and just go. As for the waterfalls, check out the photos in the below gallery. They were gorgeous!
The morning was a winding stretch of New York county and state roads, leading me to my first planned stop at Obercreek Brewery. I really lucked into this one. Picked it off a map as an “oh, that place sounds interesting”. And it was! They offered four beers on tap; two double IPAs, one Blonde Ale, and a coffee stout which would have been amazing (I imagine) in November and was the last thing I was craving in August with a heat index approaching 100F. Both IPAs were excellent, and had I wanted to spend a few hours there I could have done with more than the little 6oz tasters. The Blonde Ale was…not so blonde, but it really didn’t matter. They did some magic to it with Riwaka hops which made it taste like a liquid gold elixir. Call it whatever you like, I will simply call it tasty.
An interesting point about this trip is how quickly the days went. The length of my day was measured not by when the sun would set, but instead by when the thunderstorms would pop up. Heavy downpours of rain do not combine properly with a motorcycle loaded with camping gear, and no one enjoys setting up a tent in the rain. Therefore, I would be looking to setup camp around 3-4pm each day to guarantee (hopefully!) that I would be set before the rains passed by that spot on the map. Each day of the weekend I lucked out! I caught some spitting rains here or there, but overall it was nothing worse than a passing sun shower. While a spot on the map 5 miles away was getting soaked, I was rolling along towards my campsite. Won’t get this lucky again.
With camp set for the second night, I rolled down into the town of Livingston Manor for dinner. The Walk In, should you be nearby, serves the tastiest biscuits topped with eggs, sausage, or as luck would have it for me this Saturday, roast beef. Yes, please! It was fantastic enough that I stopped in the next day for breakfast.
After dinner I took the long way around to my campsite, riding along the edge of Pepacton Reservoir (which apparently is one of key reservoirs feeding fresh water into New York City!). The freedom and joy a person can get from riding a motorcycle around a curvy road, looking out of the water, and watching the sun set is incredible.
Arriving back at camp, I settled in the for the night and packed up the next morning. The ride home kept a smile on my face, and I realized I did not much care that it was as hot as it was. I had dodged the rain all weekend, found some really interesting places to eat and drink, and explored new hiking trails and waterfalls. All in 48 hours, give or take. It was awesome.
Ok enough photos. (You can find more over on my Pixelfed profile, though!)
A few more trip tidbits
- Coffee at your campsite is a luxury worth having. All it takes is some beans and some hot water (for which I use a JetBoil device which comes with a french press solution). Indulge!
- Traveling by motorcycle, in a heat wave, requires a lot of stopping and stretching. Plan to stop often. Drink water often. Getting there hydrated means more than getting there quickly.
- A good 10,000 mAh battery pack is enough for a weekend of camping. My motorcycle has a 12V charging port which I installed, so I can top up the external battery pack during the day riding and charge all my devices at night while sleeping.
Subject to future correction. ↩︎