But, I think they are.
Time and again readers ask us how we find some of the places and things we write about in the pages of Backroads.
We have been printing this humble magazine for nearly 28 years and during that time have brought to you and showcased hundreds of hotels, inns, getaways, museums, and the like.
For nearly all of that time we have been holding our own Backroads rallies - many held at the very places we have featured in these pages.
I recently had several emails with a rider, and big-time enthusiast, especially when it comes to the dirtier roads found in the USA, and he made mention of all the routes he and his group have published and shared and that there has never been a penny made from this.
This is somewhat of a rarity these days as, other than Backroads, I know of no other group that hands out fun as freely and altruistically as we do.
Still, to do anything these days will cost something, and this is where it is getting more and more difficult.
Two decades ago, when we were planning one of our rallies - say the Spring Break - we would be on the lookout for an inn or hotel that had that magical combination of ingredients that would make it a prime location for the event. We looked for comfort, cleanliness, upkeep and location, and great roads to and from for sure. But, the other part of the equation was affordability.
These days this is becoming more and more an issue.
At a recent bike night at Jumboland, in northwest New Jersey, we were asked why we always and only feature places that are on the pricey side of the wallet.
I was a bit perplexed at this as, these days, we do our best to mix up our various offerings and for every more high-end place, there will always be a far greater number of more reasonable venues.
The Old Stone House in Warwick is at one level, but Vic’s Wayside Inn, in Ronks, Pennsylvania was on another.
Both have excellent food – but the Old Stone House had a far more gentile feel – while at Vic’s we thought we’d see Patrick Swayze comin’ through the door.
Both restaurants are superb, but each in its own way.
But the man’s point was taken.
It seems that more and more, our search for reasonable pricing is becoming a harder and harder task. While building The Backroads Report one day I came across a hotel on the Delaware. I have passed this place a few times and it does look great – but it’s in New Hope, so I was not shocked by the $400 a night rate. Disheartened, but not shocked.
We have come across these numbers more and more frequently, and it is getting just a tad difficult to rope in a rider-friendly price – even when we are booking a large multi-day block for a Backroads event – I have asked if, straight up, some places were serious about their asking price.
Many of the venues we have used in the past have simply priced themselves out of reach. What a shame.
We balk when a resort/hotel/inn's room – that sold for (a then pricey) $149 just a few years back is now over $300 when you include make-believe add-on extra charges – like parking and resort fees.
Factor into this the recent and tellingly explosive jump at the pumps and even a weekend Backroads adventure – which was once an excellent and somewhat frugal few days on the road - becomes a hard decision for some.
As you can see – I ain’t that happy with all this and these days research is more key than ever!
Just a quick search of one area turned up a wide range of pricing. In and around Phoenicia, New York – the heart of the Catskills – I found one room for $125 at the Graham & Co. – a seemingly friendly and happy new place. Our Friend Michelle and the Starlite Motel has been a favorite of ours for years. Clean, fun, and very affordable – under $100 – you cannot go wrong here.
Yet, not far away, another hotel in Woodstock named after Bob Dylan – complete with a peace symbol built into their logo – is a different story. Yup… Peace, Love & Stay for $234.
Okay – Phoenicia and Big Indian aren’t as trendy as Woodstock. But the former seems a far better deal than the latter; especially when you remember the actual Woodstock Music Festival was 60+ miles to the south, the town is living off a big weekend that didn’t happen there, and the Hotel Dylan is still requiring Covid 19 masks.
Tall prices and masks? Wow – once again… You cannot be serious?
These days only Spider-Man and Deadpool should have to wear masks.
Looking at the road map of life in these Post Pandemic Times we know, for us both socially and economically, there will be a need to pick and choose where to go, where to stay, and where to bring our readers on both paper and the backroads.
Plan your ride and ride your plan!