Today is my first real day of relaxing, no tours or riding which is giving me time to do some of the digital stuff like editing video and pictures that I have taken so far and just sit back and chill..
Bad news on the weather front looks like a pretty significant storm front is going to be lingering over the southern part of Florida for a few days with Lightening and Thunder abundant. So rather than take the risk of heading to Key West, I'm going to turn back northeast toward the East Coast of Florida and start my northward migration. Since I'm not vying for a 4 corner patch and this is a pleasure run for me I'm not distraught at the change of plan, but only mildly disappointed. I've got plenty of miles to go and things to see to be too unhappy.
I did edit a small road video that I took when in Mississippi from the Grand Gulf Military Park back to the MS-61 state highway..It should give you a little idea what some of the roads I've been on are like.
Well here I sit in a hotel room in St Petersburg Florida, 14 days ago, I set out on my adventure. Knowing that it would be great, but not knowing exactly how great. So far this trip has exceeded my expectations. The weather has been great, the roads have been exceptional and the people I've met along the way have been wonderful. I've made new friends and re-aquainted myself with old ones. I've seen things I've long hoped to see and some things I had never known existed. Every day has been a new experience. I would wake up in the morning excited about that days travels and I would go to sleep trired with the satisfaction that it had been even better than I had imagined. I can't even imagine what the next weeks will be like but if this is a preview. I CAN"T WAIT!!!
One evening last week my friend Bob Kendal said to me, "If you'd had told me 40 years ago when we were working together that 40 years later we'd be sitting in Vicksburg MS riding motorcycles, I would have sent you to a shrink". Isn't life amazing that way.
While riding down the roads of all these states, I've been listening to my XM radio. A song keeps popping up on occaison, and really resonates with me. Its a song by Jesse Ruben called "We Can". Its about percevering. Attempting things that people don't think we can't do. One of the lines talks about making a list of things you want, and not limiting ourselves by making the list short.
So for Day 14 I'd like to share that what YouTube video with all the people that have been following this adventure. Remember you can make your dream come true. The only thing you need to be extrordinary, is action.
This was taken at Mexico Beach on the Florida Coast just east of Panama City. Ain't life great...
Waking up on Dauphin Island was an experience. The sunrise was stunning. Gordon and I took a few. The below pictures can't describe how beautiful the morning was.
Here Bob broke off the ride to head home back to Greenville, where I'll meet up with him again in about a week. Gordon and I jumped on the Dauphin Island Ferry and took the 35 minute ride across Mobile Bay to Fort Morgan where we headed east along AL-98 toward Florida. This at time was slow going with the beach traffic made the going pretty slow. The scenery was lovely with beaches with at times turquoise waters and bright white sands.
Gordon and I rode to Destin Florida where he headed back to Mobile. I'll be forever thankful for Gordon's help with this part of the trip. I hope that when he retires and rides out west, I can be as helpful to him. Thanks for everything Gordon.
After Gordon and I split up, I headed east another 60 miles and ended up finding a hotel in Panama City for the night. Another long and satisfying riding day in the books..
Tomorrow I head down the west coast of florida maybe 200 miles or so tomorrow. Then the next day to Tampa where I'll meet up with a cousin of mine.
Packing up the bikes again we headed south towards New Orleans (NAWLINS) were we hit our first big city traffic. It was well worth it as we rode through the French Quarter. This was my first time in NAWLINS and the morning streets were filled with service trucks refilling the local restaurants.
We had breakfast at the NAWLINS Spice emporium, I had eggs with crab stuffed in a shell plus alligator sausage. The sausage was very tasty.
At one point I stopped to take some pictures and this woman sprinted across the street, asked me if I wanted her to take our picture. The picture on the right here is the shot she took and though it's not the best picture. I will be forever thankful for her generosity
After breakfast, Bob and I headed out east toward our next stop, Dauphin Island Alabama.
Riding LA-90 almost the whole way. We saw the effects of Katrina, but in a good way. New reconstructed buildings lining the highway. The ride east on the coast could not have been nicer.
Bob called an old work friend and we meet for a glass of tea at the Hard Rock Hotel in Biloxi Ms.
We continued into Alabama and over a 2 mile bridge out to Dauphin Island were we made it to our campground. There we joined up with a guy that I had been corresponding with on a internet forum, called Motocampers. Gordon has been a great help in route and location information. Gordon is also an AT&T guy so the 3 of us had some great conversations at dinner at Barnacle Bills a small restaurant on the island. It might have been small but we had some of the best food yet. Sautéed Crab Claws cooked in butter and garlic were unbelievable and my entree was a Blackened Grouper with a Mushroom Crab sauce. It was marvelous and I will not likely forget that meal.
It was a wonderful day. Weather was perfect not to cool, not to hot. We (Bob Kendal and myself) headed out from Vicksburg MS south on MS-61 to Grand Gulf Military Park a small civil war site that had a very nice museum.
Here we got our first close up view of the Mississippi River. a quite impressive site. It was a good thing we didn't do this trip last year in that this point was under about 10 feet of water because of the flooding.
From Grand Gulf we picked up the Natchez Trace a wonderful 2 lane highway through lush green forests. All the way into Natchez with very few cars and no 18 wheelers (since they are banned from the trace). We rolled into Natchez about noon and stopped at a BBQ place called "The Pig Out Inn" and had some of the best BBQ pulled pork I've tasted.
From Natchez we headed out some truely country roads, riding to Centerville, MS. Bob wanted to see where Kevin Windham a famous Motocross rider lived. He has about 1000 acres with a a huge house, several motocross tracks and his own airport. after meandering through the country, we crossed into as I have learned to say LUZIANA, and stopped at Hammond. Staying at a Motel 6 that had WIFI that was pretty close to useless.
In Hammond, I met up with an old army friend Johnny Compton. We had been in Viet Nam together and hadn't seen each other since 1969. We spent a very nice evening having a nice seafood dinner and spending time talking about old time. Johnny and Sharon his wife were very gracious and it was really nice seeing him again.
I've had sporadic wifi so I've saved up some of my post for now The trip has exceeded my expectations and the weather has been w
April 24th, woke up this morning in Vicksburg MS, to a HUGE blue sky. Had a light breakfast and headed over to the Vicksburg National Battlefield. Vicksburg was one of the key victories of the Union Army coinciding with the Confederate loss at Gettysburg July 4th 1863.
My friend Bob Kendal who rode in from Greenville SC to meet up, rode with me through the park. Here are some links to some photos I took
This is a 360 looking from the Union Canon toward the Illinois Memorial.
This a 360 from the heights overlooking the Mississippi River
These are some of the monuments that we saw..
Another Fantastic Day.. Each one is better than the day before.
Today was a layover day in Memphis. On my list was a visit to Elvis Presley's Graceland. Since I was camped across the street from the estate, Big Red was left covered and I slipped on my walking shoes to visit "THE KING". The tour was really nice and I met a lot of people from all over. At one point I has people speaking German in front of me and people speaking Italian behind me. Truly, Elvis was a multi-national figure.
The tour started at a large information center when I purchased my ticket. Boarding a shuttle, we where bussed across the street and onto the estate which was a pretty big place. Entering the front door I turned on my headset (self guided tour) and proceeded through the lower part of the home. The upper floors are not open to tours, apparently in respect for Elvis's memory. The Mansion was decorated in early 70's-80's decor with Carpeted walls and mirrored ceilings. The Jungle room, with a large pool table was pretty 70's bazaar. It was interesting that the "Mansion" was much smaller than I had imagined and a very homey place. I could mentally picture people laying around on the couches and relaxing. Out the backdoor the view of the green pasture with several horses grazing (rescued horses we were told) was quite beautiful. About a 1/3 of the way through the tour, we stumbled across George Cline (played in the band with Elvis) who was taking some friends through the mansion. My brush with fame for the trip.
As the tour progressed thought the "Trophy Room" large halls lined floor to ceiling with Gold and Platinum Records, Performance Costumes, Costumes from Movies and Memorabilia. Exiting the Trophy Room we walked to the Racquetball building. Elvis enjoyed racquetball and built and indoor court. The court now filled with more Awards and Costumes.
Leaving the racquetball building we came to the Meditation Garden where there were several graves. Elvis's plot centered between the 4 large Bronze covers and one small bronze marker to the side.
A very sobering moment to remind me that no mater what, we all end up in the condition at the end.
Taking the shuttle back down the hill, I visited the Car museum and Elvis's Jets.
All in all it was a great day wandering around the estate and museums.
Today, Monday, I'll be packing up and heading south to Vicksburg MS, for my next stop. No more Interstates for this kid. Taking some rural roads down the Muddy Mississippi today. Can't wait to get back on the road.
Woke up and decided that instead of playing pinball with the crosswinds and numerous 18 wheelers, I’d take advantage of the Arkansas State Highway system. Heading out east on SR-127 through small towns like Paris and Dardenel, then SR-64 which paralleled I40 through Atkins and Morrilton. Getting back on I40 to avoid Litle Rock, then back off and east on SR-70 through Hazen Brinkley and Forest city. A definite improvement over the craziness of the Super Slab I’d taken the previous day. These small towns I passed through showing the age and economic hardships of the times, with many boarded up buildings and closed businesses. The route though was well worth the time to take.
Taking this route also provided me with some entertainment as my British companion (garmin gps voice) showed a lot of attitude as she was intent on putting me back on I40 and got more and more aggravated each time she would chime out “RECALCULATING” as if she was offended at my choices. WOMEN!!!
Reaching Memphis and crossing the Mississippi river like Caesar crossing the Rubicon, I found my campground directly across the street from Graceland. My accommodations a small on room cabin with full size bed and 2 bunks, a small refrigerator and Microwave and TV.
Flipping on the TV to see what news had occurred I was amazed at the selection. Lawrence Welk with Myron Floren on Accordian, Green Acres, Lost in Space (Danger Will Robinson).. I thought I had dropped into the Twilight Zone.
Today Sunday will be a layover day with a tour of Elvis Presleys Graceland. I"ll post some pictures this afternoon...
Amarillo Texas to Ft Smith Arkansas.Today was a hard days ride, 441 miles (not all that far), but the wind coming from the NE from 15-25 mph had my forearms aching by the time I got to Ft Smith Arkansas. Adding to the difficulty was the numerous 18 Wheelers passing my on I40 and blowing me a few feet sideways as they passed by. Once I get to Memphis tomorrow I'll be bidding the SuperSlab Interstates adu and spending some concentrated time on some nice 2 lane blacktop. After the rain in Amarillo last night and a forecast of rain for today, I donned my waterproof gear and electric gloves. Good thing the temps stayed between 45 and 55 (thats a wind chill at 60 of 30) all day and it was nice to have my fingers warm. I was getting chased by the rain but didn't get wet, fortunately, till the last 5 miles of the day. I then decided to check in at the Ft Smith Motel6.
A pleasant surprise awaited me after I unpacked my stuiff, for 2 doors down from the motel was a local Buffet, "Furrs Fresh Buffet". Now I"m not much for buffets and in fact my name for one of our Rancho Cucamonga establishments is "Home Town Feed Troff" . This one had all fresh types of foods. Where most are like tasteless cardboard. The variety was excellent even including a Sugar Free Chocolate Cream Pie!!!! I did my dutiful Low Carb selections and had a nice piece of pie for desert.
Not much in the way of pictures today, I was to busy keeping the bike in my lane, but I did get to stop at ELK Oklahoma at the National Route 66 Museum.
The great thing about today though was that after 4 states, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Things actually started to green up with real trees lining the interstate in Oklahoma. A very pleasant view after 1500 miles of brown desert landscape.
So tomorrow!! 300 miles to Memphis and then a day layover to visit GRACELAND!!!!!
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Today...
WOW... I'm just starting to settle into the riding. Internet has been iffy at the previous places I've stayed. Basically I've been able to email and post a couple of things.. Today, I decided that after 4 nights camping I'd Hotel it in Amarillo Tx so I could upload some pictures.
So From day one here are some Biosphere 2, Blooming Cactus and my 1st night Campsite.
Day 3 White Sands Missile Base near Las Cruces
White Sands National Monument
I'm still having some issues getting pictures uploaded, I'll post more as I can..