A Travellerspoint blog

Where is Allen_5

The Last Leg Home

It is July 10. I arrived home late last night. I left Rapid City, South Dakota two days ago. The first night I stayed at Sturgis, South Dakota, and the home of the famous Harley Davidson rally. Luckily the rally was not going on. The week of the rally, there are over 500M people crowed into a town that normally has a population of a few thousand folks. Too many people and too much noise for this old dog. At least I have the “bragging rights” to say “I stayed in Sturgis.” (for what it’s worth).

After leaving Sturgis I headed for Bozeman, Montana. Did not see much of the town, but being a college town, it had a nice “feel” about it. Downtown is old and well maintained. Seemed a very vibrant community.
I left the next morning for home, a 700-mile journey, on the way I took a side trip. Starting from the interstate at Anaconda, Montana is the Pintler Scenic Highway. I started on it and then took highway 38 across the mountain. The pass is named Skalkaho Highway. That was a 50-mile trip, with almost 25 miles of it on a dirt road. Great ride, beautiful views, but no barricades on the road’s edge. Took a couple of photos (will post later), of the valley below – could not even see the bottom. YIKEES!!! Saw a waterfall that was full from the spring rain, a small group of mountain goats and four horses that loved to be petted. The horses were on a ranch. They kept trying to push each other out of the way to get a few strokes from the old biker guy. Cute.

http://www.missoula.com/news/node/130

http://travel.mt.gov/categories/moreinfo.asp?IDRRecordID=11543&siteid=1

The rest of the trip home was uneventful until I was just south of Penticton, BC. It was dark and I saw this black mass on the road. Thinking is was a black trash bag, I moved to the left only to see a head come up. It was a black Labrador retriever that had already been injured by a car. I though if I don’t stop, Fran will kill me, so I turned around and went back, thinking that he/she was probably already hit for a second time. In the mean time another car had stopped to help the dog. Bottom-line, as a result of calling Fran and her calling her cousin Lynda, the SPCA came and picked up the dog. Our best guess is he/she will be okay.

I will post a summary of my trip later. It was good to go, and good to get home. Did close to 13,000 miles in a little over 6 weeks. Considering all that could have gone wrong, the trip was flawless. Would I do it again - you bet.

Posted by asmithusa 14:00 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (3)

Where is Allen_4

Pretty Toastie today - Crazy Horse Mountain

27 °C

Arrived at Rapid City after a toasty ride across South Dakota. The motorcycle has a temperature gauge – it showed 108 degrees. Having ridden in the Mojave Desert years before helped me have the knowledge and proper equipment for extreme temperatures. Hydration is the key – had to keep drinking water until my belly was full. I also have a vented summer riding jacket, which turns your body into a wick, so that requires more drinking water. And I have a cooling vest. It is made from a material that absorbs a huge amount of water. After flooding it with water, as I ride the wind flows over the vest, the water evaporates, making it act like an evaporated cooler. It not exactly like riding with air conditioning, but it make the heat a more manageable. Depending on the temperature and humidity, it needs to be recharged with water about every 1 – 2 hours. The vest in not effective in high humidity. I tried it in Louisiana and quickly found that was a mistake – the water would not evaporate!!!!

Today I was talking to another rider who was going south from Alaska – he was in emotional shock regarding the heat. His next stop was going to be the next motel. He was going to ride at night. Tomorrow is to be cooler.

Saw Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain. Needless to say, Rushmore was very enjoyable, but Crazy Horse Mountain was fabulous. Several years ago I saw a PBS program about how this site got its start. One man, who had worked on Rushmore, had a dream of doing something with his life that would be remembered. He was approached in the late forties to do this mountain sculpture as a tribute to all of the American Indians that were mistreated by the US government during the 1800 hundreds. He has since died, but his wife and 7 of his 10 children continue to “work” the mountain. The entire project was and is financed without the aid of government money. He was a pure entrepreneur. When looking at the mountain, it appears that not much has been done, but to put it into perspective, all four heads on Mount Rushmore are smaller than Crazy Horse’s head. The hole under Crazy Horse’s arm is the size of a 30-storey building. In my view, it is an amazing project. One of the highlights of my trip.

Give yourself a treat and put this monument on your agenda next time you travel to South Dakota. You will not be disappointed.

http://www.crazyhorse.org

About 2 – 3 days back to Kelowna – seems like a long time since I left. I hope I don’t look older. ;-)

Bye for now….Allen

Posted by asmithusa 02:26 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

Where is Allen_3

Oh the great open mid-west

Friday July 6

I Left the Chicago area and am staying over night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Three more toll booths to get out of Illinois. What a pain. Road interstate 90 for over 500 miles, driving across Wisconsin and Minnesota. Saw some beautiful farmlands. The highway is a bore, but the most direct way to Mount Rushmore. Tomorrow going to Rapid City, South Dakota, which is the area of the monument. Look forward to seeing it.

It has been a long day – going to bed.

After tomorrow, I will be 2 – 3 days from Kelowna. It will feel good to get back. This is the start of my seventh week.

Till later…Allen

Posted by asmithusa 22:53 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (1)

Where is Allen_2

Rain Rain go away

Left Ravenna after having breakfast with my cousin. This is the start of the trip back west. The first stop was in Akron, which is only 15 miles from Ravenna. There is an old founders home in Akron I wanted to see. After completing the tour of the house, I hit the interstate. The trip was going well when the clouds started going black. The darkest areas were off to my right, so I was quiet comfortable I would just miss the storm. Once again I was mistaken – within 5 minutes, the sky opened up with torrents of rain and the winds were so strong I could not control the bike. For a moment I felt that luck was with me, a bridge was ahead and it was over the interstate. I pulled under the bridge and stopped, putting on my flashers. At this point both trucks and cars were also pulling over because of the lack of visibility from the rain. Then I discovered the bridge I was under was under construction and did not have a solid bottom, when I looked up I could see the sky. With the wind driving the rain at a 45 degree angle, all I could do was sit on the bike and take the beating from the storm. After 5 – 10 minutes the winds stopped and the rain diminished so I moved off. Five miles up the highway, everything was bone dry and a toasty 90 degrees. At least that helped dry my clothes as I road.

My next adventure was the drive through Chicago. What a nightmare – the trip across the city took well over an hour. Almost every road I was on was under construction, and much of the construction had detours that my GPS did not understand. (the detours were created after the GPS software was created) At one point the GPS instructed me to exit the interstate to the city streets to connect with another highway. The minute I left the interstate it was apparent it was a mistake. Not from a routing perspective, but from a personal safety perspective. All I could see were police vehicles, emergency vehicles and a plethora of people who appeared to be regular customers of the judicial system. My though was I needed to keep the bike moving and get the heck out of there. (which I did) This was really scary. Aside from the issue, the GPS was a major tool I getting me through Chicago, without it I might still be cruising those road.

What was great was the view of the city from the Skyway Bridge. Chicago really has a beautiful skyline.

Now the next issue is the toll roads. Currently I am located at Elgin, Illinois, about 20 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. Since entering the greater Chicago area there have been four toll booths. Three were staffed and one had an electronic basket where the coins were to be thrown in. I was lucky enough to have the correct change. Don’t know what the option is if a person does not have the correct change. It is my understanding there are three more toll booths before I will be out of the greater Chicago area. Yikes – on a motorcycle, stopping, taking the gloves off, getting the toll ticket, retrieving the money and then reversing the process so I can move off is more than an irritation.

Next, it is dark so I get a motel in Elgin. After getting to the room, the desk person called me and suggested that I move the motorcycle under the motel’s canopy. She was concerned that is might not be safe to leave it in the parking lot. Hmmm – I thought I was in the suburbs and this would not be an issue. Hope it is there in the morning.

All in all, a good day because everything worked out for the best and I have three great stories (storm – toll booths – folks on the streets)

Tomorrow I am continued my path towards Rapid City, SD to see Mount Rushmore.

Thanks for read the blog...Allen

Posted by asmithusa 21:49 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (1)

Where is Allen

Revised Blog Game Plan

Hello All,

Needless to say, my postings to the blog are not current. I find that after riding all day, and then doing my preparation for the next day (cleaning the bugs off of the bike, doing my laundry, etc), I am out of energy. Soooo, I have decided to change the plan. The current goal is to finish the blog postings once I return to Canada. These postings will also include photos.

Going forward, I will write abbreviated posts to the blog titled "Where is Allen". That way you can still track my progress closer to real time.

My last post was for June 19 to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Since then I have traveled through the following states and provinces in the following sequence:

Pennsylvania
New York
Vermont
New Hampshire
Maine
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
New Brunswick
Quebec
Ontario
And then back to
New York
Pennsylvania and then to
Ravenna, Ohio (near Cleveland) my home town (my current location)

Tomorrow I am heading toward Chicago, Illinois, after a stop in Akron, Ohio. This is the start of my return to Canada.

Yesterday the trip meter rolled over 10,000 miles or 16,000 kilometers. That represents about 250 hours of riding time. As Lisa, our daughter –in-law would say, “I bet your ass is getting flat.” It probably is – but so far no saddle sores. Thank gosh for that.

Take care and thanks for read the blog….Allen

Posted by asmithusa 21:38 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (3)

Blacksburg, Virginia to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Hitting the tarmak

Tuesday June 19

Daily Miles: 275
Accumulated Miles: 6,175
Day 27

Today was a travel day. Most of the riding was on an Interstate. There are two things I don’t like about a motorcycle on the interstate highways – one they are boring, and two the 18 wheel trucks rule. They drive between 70 – 80 mph and usually run in packs of 2 – 4. I found I needed to be at least 6 vehicle lengths behind them or I was continually being bounced around by the wind turbulence they created. It is not dangerous, but the bouncing around takes it toll on the body – very exhausting.

On to Gettysburg and Hershey, PA

Posted by asmithusa 22:56 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

Johnson City, Tennessee to Blacksburg, Virginia

Virginia Tech - a great campus

Monday June 18

Daily Miles: 250
Accumulated Miles: 5,900
Day 26

PHOTOS ARE THUMBNAILS - CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE LARGER PHOTO
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Blacksbury – the site of the awful student shootings. I asked a local person if security had been intensified on the campus since the event. He did not seem to understand why I was asking the question, and indicated if I want to see the campus, just drive on. I have vivid memories of my experience in trying to tour the campus of Austin University in Austin. Those who read my post for that day, may remember my mention of the guard stations at every access point and that only people with a reason to be on campus were permitted entrance.

When I arrived at Virginia Tech’s campus, there were no guard stations and no restrictions. The campus and the buildings are terrific. Vast open common areas with all of the buildings constructed from, what appears to be, a common type stone. Don’t know the history of the how that construction came to be – it would interest to learn more about the school. The students I talked with were all so open and helpful. There responses me hope for the future.
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Sign on a local merchant's store
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Downtown - very small town, only a few thousand residents
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Campus
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Common Area
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Alumni Building - it is hugh
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Park next to campus
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Plantation Home next to campus
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I liked Blacksbury, as I do most college towns.

Heading NE – stop point to be determined.

Posted by asmithusa 22:06 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

Maryville, Tennessee to Johnson City, Tennessee

Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway, forest northern TN

Sunday June 17

Daily Miles: 225
Accumulated Miles: 5,650
Day 25

PHOTOS ARE THUMBNAILS - CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE LARGER PHOTO
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Another good day. At the suggestion of another rider, the riding day began before 8:00 am. The reason – the tourist are starting to come to the parks, and there is only one lane and nowhere to pass. As is was, I was almost alone on the road. Air was cool and crisp – it felt and smelled good.

Smokey Mountains

Once a person arrives at a viewpoint, it is apparent why they are named the Smokey Mountains. Apparently the topography creates a situation, no unlike Los Angeles, where an inversion layer develops that restricts air movement. Hence – air pollution. One of the local people told me the sources of the air quality are from man made as well as from natural sources. The area was very picturesque, with valley areas and 5,000 foot mountains. To learn more about the Smokey Mountains go to:

http://www.nps.gov/grsm/
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After riding the Smokey Mountains, I stop and had lunch. The greatest buffet ever is located in Cherokee, Tennessee. Great assortment and everything tasted soooo gooood. Needless to say, I pigged out for $8.98 plus tax.

Blue Ridge Parkway

After lunch I drove the Blue Ridge Parkway. The entrance is very close to the end of the Smokey Mountains Park. This parkway is about 500 miles long and runs NE at about a 45-degree angle across Tennessee and Virginia, ending to the north about 1 – 2 hours from Washington, DC. The scenery alternates from trees on both sides of the road to ridges with vista views. About every 40 – 50 miles there are access points for the communities that close the parkway. I enjoyed the ride, but the road has a 45 mph speed limit and for a road that goes through the mountains, has almost no tight turns. I got bored with it after 150 miles went searching for a country road. To learn more go to:

http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/

Northern Tennessee

After leaving the Blue Ridge Parkway, I headed north in the rural areas of Tennessee, the vastness of the forest is not any greater that what is seen in the western US or western Canada, but the difference is there is no visible clear cutting to scar the view. The mountains look like they are covered with broccoli – no visual breaks.

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At a local view point, on a major highway, I encounter Tiny. He is a local person, who was just enjoying the day at the summit. I asked him a question about the local trees, his response was, “what the f…k you talking about boy.” I immediately knew he was going to be my newest “best friend.” We talked for a while about this and that and then he suggest that I stop at an even more spectatuar view point up the road 5 miles. We bid our adues and I head toward the new view point. I arrived at the new view point and started taking pictures from the ridge, as I returned to my bike who is standing there - Tiny. Sooo, I told him I had just meet a fellow as good looking as he is back down the road a piece. He seems quit amused with that - thank gosh, no more expletives. He then noticed that the safety reflective tape on the back of my bike was coming off and said he had a roll of it at his house, and if I wanted to go there, he would replace it for me. I would have gone, but I was late in the day and I did not have a motel room.

I then asked him if he could suggest a two-lane road that would take me to Johnson City. He suggest route 89, four exits up the highway. Soooo again we said our goodbyes and I drove off heading for the fourth exit. Halfway there, I look in my rear view mirror what do I see – Tiny was following me in his van. Hmmm, I say – this is getting scary. When I was at the stop sign of the off ramp, he was still behind me, but signaled a right turn, I was going left. As he moved off to the right we both waved and said our final goodbyes. My guess is he is just a lonely guy that wanted human contact.

tiny__tn.jpg

Tomorrow off to Blacksburg, Virginia

Posted by asmithusa 21:36 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (2)

Commerce, Georgia to Maryville, Tennessee

Deals Gap aka Tail of the Dragon

Saturday June 16

Daily Miles: 225
Accumulated Miles: 5,425
Day 24

PHOTOS ARE THUMBNAILS - CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE LARGE PHOTO

Commerce, Georgia to Maryville, Tennessee

Deals Gap (aka Tail of the Dragon) was the only reason I went to Maryville. It is the most famous motorcycle road in the US. Located on route 129, this road is through the mountains that is the border North Carolina and Tennessee. This section is 11 miles long and has 318 turns. Met John at a burger place. He is from Tennessee and rides the Gap several times a year. I was not quite sure where the Deals Gap was, so he gave me his maps and outlined where I should go. Nice guy.

John from Knoxville, TN
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On the way to the Gap, John suggested I take a photo of this dam. It is the actual dam that was used in the opening scene of the Fugitive. This is the dam Harrison Ford jumped from to escape.

Dam used in opening scene from Fugitive
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The young, of both genders, take their sport bikes and travel back and forth on this section of road. The goal - travel the 11 miles as fast as possible. I know those of you who don’t ride can’t relate to this activity, but I just loved being around this spectacle. The sound of those highly tuned engines running at 10M to 15M rpm, what a rush. Apparently the police only show up when they get a series of motorist complaints. On any given weekend there are 200 – 300 motorcycles waiting to take there turn going through the turns. When I moved off, I was nervous, but I got through the 11 miles (it was not pretty) and now have the bragging rights to say “I road the Dragon.” To learn more go to:

www.tailofthedragon.com

Images of the day
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This kid has about $40,000 invested in this custom motorcycle
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Warming up the tires
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The entry point
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Deals Gap summit
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Princes Motel

The motel was very old and so was the owner. At least it was a place to sleep. Five riders from Ontario Canada were also staying there. I had a beer with them and then returned to my room. They were into the beer before I got there and were still at it 4 hours later. At least the had the sense to take a cab when going for dinner. My guess is they may have suffering the next day. They were heading for Deals Gap, can’t image doing that road with a hangover.

Tomorrow heading north toward the Smokey Mountains.

Posted by asmithusa 22:47 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (3)

Metter, Georgia to Commerce, Georgia

Macon - Athens

Friday June 15
Daily Miles: 200
Accumulated Miles: 5,400
Day 23

Macon

Traveled from Metter to Macon’s United Parcel Depot to pickup the GPS Cory sent me. I fired it up and bingo – it works beautifully. While at the UPS Depot, I asked the UPS Service Representative two questions, where to have lunch in Macon and did she suggest I continue on to Atlanta. (I have never been there) After she gave me a list of sites in Atlanta she presented an alternative. Motor north out of Macon on highway 129, also known as the Grey Highway (guess where that name came from. Yup Civil War days) First lunch – punched in the restaurant’s address into the GPS and 10 minutes later I was parking in front of their door. And this was without making one wrong turn.

Lunch was great, a different style of buffet. A person goes to the food line and tells the person what he/she wants and then he/she sits down. Then the server brings your filled lunch plate. This was my first opportunity to try some additional Southern food. I don’t know what I ate, I just pointed. An excellent lunch.

Lunch stop
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These are images from Macon. A local businessman stopped to talk and gave me a brief history of Macon during the Civil War. Only one home was damaged when General Sherman ordered a cannon to fire on a home. Needless to say the home was repaired and is located on Cannon Street (named after the incident). He closed by saying that Sherman was the original American terrorist. I guess, because of my Canadian License plate he had no idea I am a Yankee. Hmmmm. By the way, this gentleman owns a fishing lodge in Saskatchewan. Want a new neighbor?

Many homes in the South are build with red brick.
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There seems to be a pattern of three faiths in many Southern cities, Baptist, Catholic and Jewish. The Jew were invited to the South, because the general population needed doctors. These three churchs were almost next to each other.

Baptist
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Catholic
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Jewish
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Marker in a public park
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As I have written in previous posts - touring through a large city, with all of its traffic is not my idea of a good time. Soooo I took the Grey Highway. What a beautiful ride. The air was cool as I took the road through miles and miles of rolling treed hills. Northern Georgia is very pretty.

Athens

Athens is the home of the University of Georgia. I liked the town, which has about 100M people, and the campus. What shocked me is the major presence of the Greek houses. The houses are like plantation homes – HUGH. They reminded me of the fraternity house that was used in the movie Animal House. Wonder if this university is a party school!!!

To learn more, go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens,_Georgia
Greek Houses
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Commerce

This place is nothing but an interchange on an interstate highway. I never saw anything like. It is nothing but restaurants, motels and shopping centers – no houses. Very weird and very ugly. (but the room was cheap)

Next day on to Deals Gap!!!!

Posted by asmithusa 05:01 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (1)

Savannah, Georgia to Metter, Georgia

Hilton Head Island - Charleston

sunny 31 °C

Thursday June 14
Daily Miles: 325
Accumulated Miles: 5,200
Day 22

Hilton Head Island

First stop was Hilton Head Island, SC. Busy place. The density of cars was brutal. The thought of riding the same highway on the return was more that I was willing to deal with. And as my dad use to say, “a person who has seen one island, has seen them all”. Sooooo, I did a u-turn and heading back to the interstate to Charleston.

Charleston

Charleston, in my view, has a total different feel to it from Savannah. I motored through town and went to the area were the tourists spend their time. There was no end to stores and booths selling goods. I think Savannah spoiled it for me. Yuk – back to the interstate. Went south back towards Savannah and then west.

Metter

Metter, GA is about half way between Savannah and Macon, GA. The place is a spot on the interstate. Stopped at the DQ before going to the room for a Blizzard. Gave the young DQ gal my flavor preference and paid. As an after thought, after I paid, I wanted to change the flavor. The sweet young thing told me I could not change the flavor now because the order was already entered into the computer. I then watched her go the counter where the flavors were all lined up like ducks in a row and select a container. I guess she was unable to pick another container because that would have been against the DQ rules. WOW, talk about rigid. The deal breaker was when I asked for a glass of drinking water and she wanted to know what size. Knowing were this was going, I asked her to show me the available sizes. The size I wanted was twenty-one cents. My response was, “let me think on it.’

Miscellaneous

This was a banner day – the trip meter rolled over 5,000 miles today. That translates to well over 100 hours of riding time since the start of the trip. I am amazed my butt is not really sore, but so far so good.

Tomorrow on to Macon. Cory is shipping me a GPS unit to the Macon UPS Center. Knowing where I am and where I want to go has been a major hassle, especially when trying to find my way through cities or looking for a specific motel. Many times I stop to ask for directions (Yes, I do ask for directions) and that usually entails turning off the motorcycle, taking off my helmet and getting off the bike. A very time consuming stressful process.

Posted by asmithusa 22:40 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (2)

Palm Coast, Florida to Savannah, Georgia

Saint Augustine - Jacksonville - Savannah

rain 29 °C

Wednesday June 13
Daily Miles: 200
Accumulated Miles: 4,875
Day 21

This was a short riding day. Weather was still dicey. It rained much of the ride, but there was no wind, lighting or hail. All in all a good ride. I connected with Roy (he is the rider in the yellow) while waiting for the rain to stop. We road together for the last 100 miles to Savannah. Later I discovered he is an Iron Butt rider. He was an excellent rider. I envy him. To learn more about the Iron Butt go to:

www.ironbutt.com/about/about.cfm

These riders are hardcore long distance riders. If I were younger, I would love to do some of their events.

Roy in the yellow
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SAINT AUGUSTINE

Seemed to be nice small beach town. Pretty beaches and was not crowded. I took a picture of the sand, it was that type of sandy beach that motoivated me to move from Ohio to California.

Great Beaches
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JACKSONVILLE

Hated it. Did not even stop. Heavy traffic, roads need repair and in my view, a very ugly city. Could not get out there fast enough.

SAVANNAH

WOW what a city. I loved it. For some reason it reminds of the casualness that a person finds in California’s Venice Beach. The city has so much history. Many of the homes and commercial buildings date back to the eighteen hundreds. Most of them have been restored with some open to tourist. I saw several of the homes on this tour.

http://www.savannahtrolley.com
A person can also tour the city by carriage.

http://www.savannahcarriage.com

Much of the infrastructure shows its age, but in my mind it adds to Savannah’s charm. The city still gives off the feeling of a small town. It has a great visitor’s center. It was built on a grid, which include several blocks. There are 24 “squares” that are actually city parks. Each park is an entire block. The trees are old and beautiful. To learn more go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savannah%2C_ga

To the person, the people were all terrific. I don’t think I passed one local person that did not say “hello”. It did not matter if that person was serving me, or just someone walking down the street. Everyone had a smile – neat huh!!!

Lane and Sharon are from Atlanta. The spent 20 minutes with me making riding suggestions for my next destination - Deals Gap.
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One of the streets still has the original “ballast rocks” that were used in the seventeen hundreds to stabilize the ships bringing in goods from England. After the ships arrive, the rocks were off loaded to make retain walls and streets in Savannah. Those streets and walls are still in use today.

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Water Street is the orignal dock where the cotton was shipped from over 200 years ago
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A "ballast rock" street
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Savannah has the largest Art & Design college in Georgia.

http://www.scad.edu

The food was great. I had a seafood Alfredo with shrimp and scallops. I never saw so much shrimp and scallops served in one meal. It was fabulous. Because of the all of the great food, if I lived here, I would be candidate for a bypass in a few years.

Bottom line – do I want to return for a longer visit – YOU BET. SAVANNAH made the entire trip worth the time and money.

Some random photos of Savannah

Parks
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Women enjoying the day with their music
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Houses / Offices
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Home of the woman who brought the Girl Scouts from England to US
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Tour the city by horse drawn carriage
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Incredible Catholic Church
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Tomorrow off to Charleston, SC.

Posted by asmithusa 22:19 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (2)

Margate, Florida to Palm Coast, Florida

What a Thunder Storm!!!!

storm 30 °C

Tuesday June 12

Margate, Florida to Palm Coast, Florida

Daily Miles: 275
Accumulated Miles: 4,675
Day 20

Today I am heading north up the Atlantic side of Florida. My first stop is to visit a friend of mine who lives in Ormand Beach, Flordia. Met him while Fran & I lived in California. He and his wife retired in Florida 6 years ago. Have not seen him since he moved – never met his wife.

The trip was interesting. Ron warned me a thunderstorm was brewing, but of course I minimized the risk. WELL – Mother Nature taught me lesson. In the space of 20 minutes the sky went from grey to black, then the lightning and thunder started. It seems the whole sky was full of electricity. AND then the rain started, not a slow steady rain, but the clouds presented a major downpour. AND then the winds started – my best guess is the wind gusts were 40 – 60 mph. At this point I see cars pulling off the side of the interstate to wait out the storm. There is nowhere to get cover and no exit close by, so I followed their lead. After sitting on the bike for about 10 minutes the heavy rain and wind reduced to a manageable level and I moved off. Ron later told me, that I was very fortunate, because the storm that I encountered also dropped major size hail in other areas. That could have put a few dents in the old motorcycle.

Needless to say, I did not have my raingear on (I am not too bright) and I as soaked. I feet even sloshed in my boots. Yuk!! Oh well, it is only water.

Finally arrived at Ron and Terry’s (his wife) home. They ordered me to strip down so they could put my clothing in the dryer. Neat way to meet people – huh!! They provided a nice lunch and we had a great visit. It was neat seeing him and meeting his wife.

After lunch I put my clothes back on and motored to Palm Coast, Florida. It was really great to be dry (well almost dry – there was the issue of the boots) again.

Ron & Terry
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Ron___Terry.jpg

After I was dried out (almost)
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Ron & Terry live in a beautiful planned community. There are over 800 homes covering a large area. To learn more go to:

http://www.icihomes.com
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plantation2.jpg

plantation1.jpg

Now off to Savannah, Georgia

Posted by asmithusa 22:17 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (1)

Port Richey, Florida to Margate, Florida

Tarpon Spring - Pensecola - Clearwater - St Petersburg - Sunshine Highway Bridge - Sarasota - Margate

sunny 33 °C

Saturday June 9

Daily Miles: 350
Accumulated Miles: 4,400
Day 17

Tarpen Springs

Tarpon Springs is a little village and is known as "the sponge capital of the world". All aspects of the sponge industry take place in Tarpon Springs, from the harvesting of the sponge, all the way to the auctions that are held weekly at the Sponge Docks for the wholesalers. To learn more to go:

http://www.tarponsprings.com

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tarpon_springs1.jpg

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Photo of my new best friend in Tarpen. He is of Greek ancestry and owns a sponge store. In true Greek fashion, he agreed to pose for the photo only if I agreed to mail him print.

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Pensacola

A very popular resort and retirement city. Very busy, lots of “folks”. To learn more go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pensacola,_Florida
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pensicola1.jpg

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Sunshine Skyway Bridge

WOW – what a bridge. It crosses Tampa Bay to the south. The enormity of this engineered marvel can only be appreciated by being there. What a fabulous ride over this peaked bridge. It would be very dicey being on a motorcycle if it was windy and / or raining. Wind is very common over the any of these open waters. Including the approaches, the length is approximate 8 miles. “YES”, 8 miles!! To learn more go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunshine_Skyway_Bridge
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sunshineSkyway3.jpg

sunshine_bridge2.jpg

Road to Margate

After crossing Tampa Bay, I headed east from the Gulf side of Florida to the Atlantic side to go to Margate. It only took 3 hours to cross the entire state. The terrain was very open and very green. Beatiful pastures with several ranches. After arriving on the east coast I then headed south to Margate.
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I Spend Sunday June 10 and Monday June 11 visiting my cousin Ron and his wife Arlene in Margate. This area is “feeling” the same changes that are occurring in Miami, which is 1 – 2 hours to the south. There is a heavy Cuban and Mexican influence. Many business signs are appearing in Spanish. Drugs and alcohol issues are increasing.

Ron and Arlene live in a senior community that has a canal flowing through it. The canal and the banks are full of wildlife. There is a variety of birds and water life. Fish up to 3 feet can be seen.
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My cousing Ron and his wife Arlene.
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Ron___Arlene.jpg

Posted by asmithusa 21:52 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

Chipley, Florida – Port Richey, Florida

Oh those bridges. ...and then there is the beach

semi-overcast 31 °C

Friday June 8

Daily Miles: 300
Accumulated Miles: 4,050
Day 16

Stayed off the interstate today. Made good time on Highway 19 that runs through the western edge of Florida. Lots of pretty treed areas and several small towns. Temperature was down from yesterday – as Martha Stewart would say, “and that is a good thing.”

There was a rainstorm today, but I think it helped me figure the rain issue. First, just before it rains, the temperature drops several degrees. It provides about a 3 – 5 minute warning. Also, it never seems to rain very long, or over a very large area. So my plan now is, nix the raingear – just keep riding. After I have ridden through the storm, the wind helps dry my clothes (some of the time ;-) Barring being drowned, this may work.

Below are a few images along the way.

I love these bridges. Each bridge gets more spectaular.

Long_distance_Bridge.jpg

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This brige is about 3 miles long. Notice the "peak" towards the back of the photo. That is the half-way point. Fabulous.

3_Mile_Bri..nsicola.jpg

And then there is the Panama City beach, not toooo bad....

Panama_City_Beach_Fl1.jpg

I was planning on staying in Saint Petersberg tonight, but then I discovered the motel rooms are expensive there, so I decided to stay in Port Richey, about an hours drive to Saint Petersberg. What a dump. The town is nothing but strip malls and strip joints, but dam the rooms are cheap. Went to a little pizza joint for dinner. Lucky they didn’t kill me. Ordered a couple of pieces of pizza and it was placed on a grill to warm it up. What disgusting concept. I left most of it for the flies. They seemed to enjoy it much more than I did. YUK!!!

Called my cousin Ron, who lives just north of Fort Lauderdale in Margate. I am planning on going to their home Saturday night through Monday. Will give me a chance to visit with him and his wife Arlene. Have not seen either of them for over 15 years. Will also have an opportunity to see his mother Ethel, who lives near by in a retirement home. Those of you who have met my cousin Shirley, Ron is her brother.

A decision was made not to go down through the Florida Keys. I have been there before, and from my currently location it would have added 2 – 3 days to the trip. Currently I have been on the road 16 days. There are so many areas in the northeast US and Canada that I have never been to, so I decided to invest my time in those areas.

Posted by asmithusa 14:08 Archived in USA Tagged motorcycle Comments (3)

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