In early July I received an email from Tramontin Harley-Davidson that posed this question: “Are you interested in being part of a women-only weekend ride and campout event?” Am I interested in enjoying two of my favorite activities with other like-minded women? Are you kidding? Count me in!
I learned that a while back, a woman named Cathy had approached Tramontin H-D General Manager Nancy Duthie with her dream of getting female riders together to ride, relax, relate and rejuvenate on a weekend motorcycle adventure. At the time, life and work issues intervened and it wasn’t until this July, two years later, that the time was right to launch the concept. I started attending the meetings at Tramontin H-D and met other women who were also interested in getting it off the ground.
Plans came together as we quickly learned what each other’s skills and interests were. Some of the women investigated campgrounds and found one that seemed to fit the bill. So a few weeks later, four of us went on a slightly rainy but nonetheless delightful ride (thanks, Janice!) to Otter Lake Camp Resort in Marshalls Falls, Pennsylvania, to check it out.
We loved it and put down a deposit to camp over the last weekend of September. At the next meeting, the women who couldn’t make the ride received a glowing report. We discussed what camping gear we’d need—for that meeting I’d hauled along every piece of camping gear I’d accumulated in the past few decades and, for those women who weren’t already inveterate campers, demonstrated how to set up and use some of the equipment.
The next two weeks dragged by as we excitedly messaged each other with questions, plans, schedules… and then the big day arrived. We’d reserved two campsites, which were plenty big enough to accommodate six tents, six motorcycles, a picnic table, six camp chairs and a fire ring. We set up our tents, inflated our mattress pads, laid out our sleeping bags and went to the camp office to drag firewood—and snacks—back to the site.
With the campfire lit, we called out for food delivery. (Don’t laugh; we didn’t want to deal with hauling food and cooking on our first camping weekend together!) Dana had brought fixin’s for S’mores, so with tummies stuffed, we sat around the campfire and got to know each other a little better. We talked kids and grandkids, past riding adventures, tattoos and the shooting sports, and marveled at the ability of we six women who didn’t know each other to gel together so well. But when you think about it, we have so much in common, why wouldn’t we all get along? (We missed you, Sheila! Next time…) We made plans to expand our reach and invite other women to join us for a bigger campout next summer. Some of us called it an early night, while others walked to the lake and gazed at the stars, awed at the magnificence of the woods and the water and the sky.
Turns out that the campground’s 11:00 p.m.–8:00 a.m. “quiet time” was a myth. The women at the next campsite talked and laughed loudly through most of the night, and the guys on the other side were partying hearty. Then before 6:00 a.m. we heard children playing—and screaming—a few campsites over. We didn’t get much sleep—someone accused someone else of snoring, and someone else finally confessed—but we were all up early for breakfast. We dawdled for a while at the campsite, checked out each other’s bikes and modifications, compared camping equipment, bemoaned our helmet hair and saddled up for the ride that Janice had planned. It was already fall foliage time in the Pocono Mountains, and the twisty roads were surrounded by trees speckled with hues of orange, yellow and red. We rode through Delaware State Forest and state game lands, and took a detour into the scenic beauty of Promised Land State Park. We rode past Lake Fred with its own Loch Ness-type monster named—what else?—Fred. Every road, every turn was just spectacular. The only sobering thought was when we passed many teams of state police that were staked out at various spots in the woods. This was the area where Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Bryon Dickson was shot and killed and State Trooper Alex Douglass shot and critically injured by a man that was still on the loose.
We rode along the shore of lovely Lake Wallenpaupack for a time and stopped for lunch at the 402 Café in Hawley for typically hearty NEPA fare and hit the road again. The ride involved the usual group dynamics—Lisa’s half-broken floorboard finally fell off; someone forgot their riding glasses and went back to retrieve them; someone else thought they left their glasses at the last gas station but eventually discovered them stowed on her bike. Andrea had a mishap as we neared the campground but she soldiered on and made it back OK. Some ice and TLC helped soothe the pain.
Sadly, Otter Lake has no availability for any of the weekends we want for our big campout in the summer of 2015, so the search is on for another suitable site. We have a late October ride planned to check out another campground in central Pennsylvania, and if that meets our needs, we’ll plan a late spring campout and begin planning in earnest for next summer’s Skylands Womyn Riders women-only ride and campout. Won’t you join us?