A Ride To Eat (RTE)

The couple we’ll ride with, Sean & Christine were out-of-town and came back yesterday.  What’s the first thing Donna wanted to get together and do?  Well it was to go riding of course!  Sean & Christine are now in the home stretch of being full-time RV’ers with a contract on their house and had already planned to look at campers and motorhomes today.  We’re leaning in that direction ourselves so Donna came up with the idea for a short ride to lunch for some BBQ and then back towards home to look at campers.  We met later in the morning than normal since it was a lunch ride and we headed for Dawsonville and over Burnt Mountain for lunch in Talking Rock, GA at Biguns BBQ.  This is the same short lunch ride I had led some members of my Blue Knights Chapter on earlier in the week.  But it does amaze me of how much cooler it is on the top of that mountain and it’s not very high.  Today it was sunny and it was 8 degrees (F) cooler on the top of the mountain.  We headed on to Biguns before it got too crowded and it sure did get crowded today.  After lunch it was time to head down to Camping World to do some window shopping.  Donna and I even found a real nice Class C motorhome that we really liked.  It was to the point that we were looking at each other and scheming.  We were at the point that we decided that if we could right now, we’d buy it then buy a trailer for the Magic Carpet and just hit the road.  Maybe in another year or so though.

Today was also the first day that I finally got Donna to wear earplugs while riding too.  She finally gave in!  She had tried foam earplugs in the past but didn’t like them and admittedly they did loosen up and fall look like they were going to fall out.  It was time for me to replace my ETY plugs so I just ordered 2 pair this time.  She really liked them when she tried them on when they got here and then she wore them all day today and found them comfortable.

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A Hooky Ride With Friends

I’m in the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.  Today was a “Hooky Ride” that I had planned.  We started “Hooky Rides” a few years ago and they are weekday rides and the idea is to get back home before the school bus does.  The rides were also requested by members who don’t always have weekends off to ride.  I know this may come as a shock but law enforcement is not a Monday through Friday job where you work only during the day.  It was actually a good idea and sometimes we have quite a number of members show up.  It had been a while since we had a “Hooky Ride” so I scheduled one for today.  Other than myself, two other members showed up, B.C. and Steve.  We weren’t going to let that deter us and off we went for a short ride that I had planned out.  I took us on the Hillbilly Drive ride.  This ride was intentionally not long and took us on some local roads from Dawsonville, GA over to Talking Rock, GA to have lunch at Biguns Barbeque.  It was a simple route too, taking us out to GA HWY 183 before taking GA HWY 136 over Burnt Mountain and into Talking Rock.  What a great day to ride too!  When we left Dawsonville it was right at 70°F and a clear, cloudless sky.  Heading over the mountain it dropped to as low as 64ºF and B.C. later said that maybe he should’ve worn a jacket.  Once at lunch, two of B.C.’s friends came by, both retired police officers who had at one time ridden motorcycles for the Atlanta Police Department in their careers.  That meant that counting B.C. and me there were four retired Atlanta Officers who had been motor officers.  While it wasn’t an all day ride it was great day to ride and have lunch with friends!

The weather was great for riding today!

The weather was great for riding today!

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Finally, A Nice Long Ride Together

It seems like forever since Donna and I rode together.  Between her job, a stretch of either hot weather or rain and just life in general it seemed like ages since we rode.  In fact the last time we rode was when we went to Maggie Valley, NC back in July.  The other day Donna asked “What’s the weather like for Sunday?  I need a ride and I want to go to Turner’s Corner for lunch.”  We decided that there would be no errands, no chores and if anyone wanted us for anything that wasn’t a bona-fide emergency they’d just have to wait.  With an approaching cold front the forecast kept going back and forth with the forecast for rain.  It’s no fun riding in the rain and this ride was supposed to be fun. On Friday the forecast was improving and then on Saturday it was improving more (although we had already made our decision to ride).  I knew we would ride, no matter what the weather brought when Donna told me to pack her rain pants.

When we left in the morning I did just as requested and headed up to Turner’s Corner Café that sits on the corner of US HWY 19 and US HWY 129.  The Cafe’s true address is even 10 Turner’s Corner RD!  On the way up one of the first things we noticed was that there weren’t many motorcycles on the road with us as we got closer to the north Georgia mountains.  It must have been the gray clouds and temperatures in the upper 60’s in the morning!  Granted the clouds did look like they could rain on us and in fact they did, quite a few times, but never more than enough to just wet the windshield.  Some of the hill and mountain tops were shrouded in fog and clouds.  We took a pretty standard route for us to get to lunch, heading up I-575 until it became GA HWY 515 (to make up time) then GA HWY 53 to Dawsonville, GA HWY 9 on up to Dahlonega and then US HWY 19 to the restaurant.  Along the way near Marble Hill, Donna saw a baptism going on in a creek.  It is a nice curvy ride up there.  Now when I say a US Highway don’t think a multi-lane highway.  These are 2 lane roads in the mountains (Appalachian version of mountains) that are US Highways.  We had a great lunch out on the deck overlooking the river.  We nearly had the deck to ourselves!  Again, it must’ve been those gray skies that looked like rain.  There weren’t even many motorcycles heading up and down Blood Mountain.  I had planned us two rides for after lunch and both started and ended at Turner’s Corner.  I was in luck because Donna picked the long ride!

We headed south for a short distance towards Cleveland, GA but made the turn onto GA HWY 75 ALT (NOT interstate 75) and took it to its other end at GA HWY 17 just north of Helen.  We headed north on GA HWY 17 towards Hiawassee taking the nice twisting and curving part along the way.  We like to use more than just the center portion of the tires!  Once HWY 17 dead ended at GA HWY 76 in Hiawassee we made the right turn towards Clayton.  Before getting to Clayton though we turned right on GA HWY 197 for its twists and curves along Lake Burton before making our next right turn in Batesville onto GA HWY 356 passing through Unicoi State Park.  We ended back at GA HWY 17 just outside of Helen again before heading back past Turner’s Corner and heading back for home.  This whole ride today was all in Georgia but there’s a stretch along GA HWY 76 where you look into North Carolina.

We filled up with gas when we started in the morning and we put 248 miles on that tank of gas today with gas to spare!  Just before we got home the Magic Carpet’s odometer passed 84,000 miles.  But those aren’t the best things about today.  The best part was doing them with Donna sitting behind me on the motorcycle.

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The “Blogroll”

The other day I realized that I read a number of blogs.  I didn’t have links posted for about half of them.  This afternoon I sat down and edited the “blogroll” feature over in the right sidebar.  Instead of listing the more than 20 blogs (which would take up a lot of space over there) I limited the widget to showing a random list of 6 blogs.  Each time a page is visited or refreshed you should see a new list of blogs.  Don’t see yours?  Refresh a few times and you will.

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How Our Motorcycle Got Named “The Magic Carpet”

Boats get names.  Fighter pilots name their airplanes.  Babies get names.  Pets get names.  But I never really thought about naming a motorcycle.  But once we bought our BMW K1200LT I noticed on some of the BMW message boards that the motorcycles had names.  When we had out Suzuki C50T Boulevard we merely just referred to it as the “The motorcycle” or “The Boulevard”.  That seemed simple enough.  But BMW riders were naming their motorcycles and I’m sure they’re not the only ones who do it.  We were trying to come up with names.  “The Big Green Machine” was out, but “The Big German Lady” was a possibility.  It was harder than you think to come up with a name.  Did we want to come up with a name and then translate it into German?

Then one early one brisk morning we were headed up the road to meet some friends to go riding.  We had the stereo, yes a radio station, playing in that nice BMW intercom.  It was a classic rock station that we were listening to.  Then Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” began playing.  My head was moving with the music (luck for Donna I wasn’t singing) and we decided right then that we’d name our BMW K1200LT “The Magic Carpet”.  For some reason it just fit and has been that way ever since.

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So How Did I End Up Riding A BMW?

It’s a question I get asked all the time.  Why did you get a BMW?  Sometimes the question is “How come you didn’t buy a Harley?”  Well first off there has yet to be a manufacturer that is able to make a motorcycle that suits every rider.  And news flash, while Harley Davidson makes a very good motorcycle they are not the only company building motorcycles.

So here’s how I ended up with a BMW K1200LTE.  In 2006 I wanted to get back into motorcycling.  Like many motorcyclists there had been a break in riding in my life.  Did I set out to buy a BMW?  No I didn’t.  Donna was on board with it.  Donna had never ridden for any length of time on a motorcycle.  She wanted to try but wasn’t sure how she’d like it.  So between the 2 of us some guidelines were set.  We wouldn’t spend a ton of money, it would have some luggage capacity, have a windshield and Donna wanted a passenger back rest.  We decided on a 2006 Suzuki Boulevard C50T in phantom gray.  It was a water-cooled, shaft drive V-Twin motorcycle.  The “50” designated a 50 cubic inch engine which roughly converts to an 820cc engine.  Because it was the “T” model it came with a windshield, hard leather saddlebags and nice big back rest.  In the Suzuki lineup T meant touring.  This motorcycle was basically a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic with a smaller engine and made in Japan.  It was a good, durable and surprisingly strong motorcycle.  Well, Donna literally took to riding like a duck takes to water.  If I backed the motorcycle out of the garage for anything, she was there with her helmet.  We would go on day rides and even weekend overnight trips on the motorcycle.  Then in 2007 we rode that C50T from home in north Georgia to Bike Week in Daytona  Beach!  We intentionally made the trip down in 2 days even though it is an 8 hour trip for us.  But on that trip we also avoided the interstate as much as possible.  It wasn’t long before we were both longing for a real touring motorcycle because no matter what Suzuki said, the C50T and its big brother the C90T were not really touring motorcycles.  The search began for a true touring motorcycle.

Donna with the C50T in Flagler Beach, FL on our way to Bike Week in 2007.

Donna with the C50T in Flagler Beach, FL on our way to Bike Week in 2007.

In early 2008 we had narrowed our search to the Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Honda Goldwing, Yamaha Royal Star Venture, Victory Vision, BMW K1200LT and a used BMW R1200CL.  I had no specific brand in mind.  An interesting note about BMW was that I didn’t consider them the first time around because I remembered black motorcycles with ugly bags being “old man” motorcycles.  But riding again exposed me to newer BMW motorcycles.  If I had looked at them in 2006 we probably would’ve ended up with an R1200R instead of the Suzuki.  But let’s get back to the search.  A later entrant into the search was the BMW R1200RT.  In the late summer and early fall of 2008 we began searching in earnest and things were lining up.  The Honda and the Yamaha were taken off the list pretty quick because we couldn’t find a dealer anywhere near us that would allow a test ride.  We weren’t spending that kind of money on a motorcycle and not being able to test ride it.  We even had a Honda dealer tell us that we wouldn’t need one and that under the law we had 3 business days after the sale to change our mind anyway and that could be our test ride.  That left Harley Davidson, Victory and BMW; all 3 of which by the way not only allowed test rides but encouraged them.  The next motorcycle to drop off the list was the Victory Vision.  The reason the Victory was dropped was a simple statement from Donna: “It looks cool now.  But will we think that in 2 years?”  The R1200RT was the next to drop off the list because Donna thought that the way the seat looked, it looked like it would make her slide forward.  I had to agree with her and after all she would not be an occasional passenger but a nearly all the time passenger.  No I don’t want to hear that we could buy another seat, we already did that with the Suzuki.  We test rode an Ultra Classic.  It was about 1:oo PM and I asked how long a test ride we could take.  I was told “We close at 6.”  The Ultra was one nice motorcycle and could be very comfortable and eat up the miles.  The next ride was a used BMW R1200CL at BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta.  Donna really wasn’t pleased with the look of the motorcycle and it’s “bat wing” fairing like the Ultra Classic and even said from the side it looked like an ant the way it was segmented.  I then went on a test ride on a BMW K1200LT by myself.  One word: WOW!  Since I was a police officer, I qualified to purchase a Peace Officer Special Edition Ultra Classic at a very significant discount from Harley Davidson.  No, it’s not a police motorcycle but an Ultra Classic with Peace Officer “badging”, blue pin-striping and limited colors.  We priced one out in preparation to order because you had to order them from the factory.  Then one day we saw a used 2002 BMW K1200LTE on the BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta website.  It was green!  But we went to look anyway.  Donna asked if they could take it outside in the bright sunshine.

Donna with the Magic Carpet at the Florida Welcome Center on the way to Bike Week in 2010.

Donna with the Magic Carpet at the Florida Welcome Center on the way to Bike Week in 2010.

The doors were opened and out she went.  Donna made the comment, “It sure looks fast and sexy.”  Her next comment was that even though it was green it look very good and very different.  Then came the offer for the test ride.  We took them up on the offer and went for over an hour test ride.  By the end of the week we owned that green K1200LTE that later became know as The Magic Carpet.  I called the Harley Davidson dealer to tell the salesman I would not be coming in to order the Ultra Classic because I had bought another motorcycle.  He said he understood (the peace officer editions don’t count towards their allotment or sales) but asked what I had bought.  When I told him a BMW K1200LTE he said “That’s a really great bike.  You’re going to enjoy it.  At least you didn’t call to tell me you bought a Goldwing!”  When we bought the K1200LTE I kept the C50T for a while.  But there was now no comparison.  The BMW had servo assisted brakes (power brakes like a car) while the Suzuki had a drum rear brake and a single disc front brake.  When I rode the C50T I felt like I wasn’t going to stop.  We sold her to a good home.  We owned the C50T just over 2 years and put 14,000 miles on her.  When we bought the K1200LTE it had 39,000 miles on it and it now has just under 84,000 miles as I write this (our next day ride will probably reach 84,000).  Very soon after buying the K1200LTE we took it on its first real trip.  We went to Florida to visit my parents in the Daytona Beach area for Thanksgiving.  We did it in one day this time with stops only for food and gas.  We were going across I-10 in north Florida when I told Donna on the intercom that it was about lunch time.  She said “We can keep going for a while, I’m fine.”  I had to tell her it was me who was ready for a break.

Basically the BMW fell into our laps at just right time.  Plain and simple.  I didn’t set out for a BMW or any other brand in the beginning and they all started out equal.

Since I’ve owned the BMW I’ve learned 3 major things about motorcylists and the make they ride:

  • Harley Davidson riders dress like pirates.
  • BMW riders dress like armadillos
  • Sport bike riders of any make dress like Power Rangers.

It doesn’t matter what brand you ride.  Just find something you like and ride it!

 

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Speed And Strength Motorcycle Shoe Review

I received a pair of Speed & Strength “Run With The Bulls” motorcycle shoes from Motorcycle House for review.  I’ve worn the original BMW Street Sneakers before so I was already used to something that was not a full boot.

When I took the shoes out of the box I immediately noticed that they were a sturdy pair of shoes.  They are definitely not regular tennis shoes.  They come up to just over the ankle.  Right away I found the sizing to be accurate as I normally wear an 8 ½ shoe and I had ordered a 9 (the shoes are only available in whole sizes).  My toes come just to the tip of the shoe, are not jammed in and have room to move a bit but the shoes are not lose.  I think an 8 would’ve been too small.  The shoes are black leather and cordura nylon with hard rubber soles.  The laces are exposed very little, using what Speed & Strength calls an “undercover lacing system”.  There’s also a velcro strap that covers the knot.  The undercover lacing system doesn’t hinder putting the shoe on or tightening the laces once you realize the lacing pattern.  There is a hard ankle protector on both the inboard and outboard side of the shoe over the ankle bone.  There is a hard rubber heel protector as well.  Both shoes have a rubber shift guard on them.  I’ve had boots before that only had a shift guard on the left foot and it looked a bit odd.  The shoes have flat soles just like tennis shoes so if you have foot pegs instead of floorboards (like I do) this is more comfortable, letting you move your foot more.  The soles are also harder and sturdier than tennis shoes.  The first time I wore them was on a 470 mile weekend trip in the Great Smoky Mountains and on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The shoes performed flawlessly and were very comfortable.  I had no issues or problems with using the gear shift or the rear brake.  An unexpected plus was their comfort in walking.  They were much more comfortable walking for a distance than my motorcycle boots are, and those have softer soles!  After dinner one night we went for a mile walk and while the soles were hard it was a comfortable walk on my feet.  It was much more comfortable than I expected it to be.  These were the only shoes I brought with me and this was intentional.  You could wear these as everyday shoes while you were out riding.  The only minor negative I found was one day I wore jeans instead of riding pants and the air at my ankles was something I wasn’t used to.  It wasn’t a bad thing, just something I wasn’t used to.  These shoes are not advertised as being waterproof.  I think they’d keep your feet dry for a short time in a shower but not much more.  If you’re riding something like an HD Ultra Classic or HD Road Glide Ultra that have the lowers on the engine guards then you’d be better off as your feet are more protected from the elements already.  I imagine it would be the same on Honda Gold Wing as it was on my BMW K1200LT too. I didn’t experience any wet weather while riding to test my theory.  I did though wear them when it did rain at night and then stepping back onto wooden decking and painted concrete I felt sure-footed.  That brings up another good point, with my foot out at a stop on loaded touring motorcycle riding 2-up the soles of the shoes did not slip even slightly.

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Accurate sizing
  • Sturdy and well made
  • Comfortable for walking
  • A good value
  • Laces are not exposed

Cons:

  • No reflective material

Check out these shoes and other motorcycle apparel and accessories at Motorcycle House!

These shoes are great and great value to boot!  And yes, the pun was intended.

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A video review too!

Categories: Accessories, Reviews | Tags: , | 3 Comments

A Birthday Motorcycle Trip

My birthday was this past weekend.  How did we celebrate you ask?  Well, we went on a motorcycle trip of course.  We decided that we’d ride up to Maggie Valley, NC and spend two nights at The Jonathan Creek Inn.  We’ve stayed there on group trips before but this was our first solo stay there.  We stayed in Maggie Valley nearly three years ago on our Blue Ridge Parkway “End To End” trip but didn’t stay at Jonathan Creek.  So we left out late Saturday morning with half a tank of gas and headed for North Carolina.  We got a nice surprise at a gas stop in Blue Ridge, Georgia when I found that the premium unleaded gas was ethanol free!  After gassing up and showing some kids from Florida the motorcycle we continued on.  Within two hours of being on the road we had been in three states; Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.  We went up going through, Blue Ridge to McCaysville in Georgia and then Copperhill in Tennessee.  Once in North Carolina we headed for Andrews, Murphy, Topton, through the Nantahala Gorge into Cherokee and then on into Maggie Valley. The trip is about three and half hours of riding for us.  The Jonathan Creek Inn gets its name because the Jonathan Creek runs behind the motel.  Some of the rooms have a rear door that goes out to the creek or a screened in porch or patio.  There was couple staying there that made home-made ice cream with fresh-cut peaches for anyone who wanted it.  Yep, they did it just to do it.

Sunday was going to be our riding and tourist day.  We had planned to ride a short stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, have lunch in Waynesville, NC and then possibly go to the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum back in Maggie Valley if we had time before heading back and enjoying the creek.  I got up and strolled around, and got us some coffee from the lobby and met another motorcyclist who was quite impressed with the

They rode this Kawasaki Vulcan down from Wisconsin to North Carolina. They were leaving for home when they posed for this picture.

roads in and around The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  He said he and his wife were from “mid Wisconsin” and they didn’t have roads like that back home.  He and his wife were riding his Kawasaki Vulcan.  A few minutes later she showed up with their helmets and he said they were ready to go.  I asked him where they were headed and he said “Home.”  That’s right, they rode that Vulcan with soft saddlebags for luggage down from Wisconsin!  They said they were going to try to make Indianapolis that night!  They ride for about two hours before taking a break and set a destination and ride until they get there, be it 5 in the afternoon or 9 at night.  Now that’s a motorcycling couple!  My hat is off to them!  Or should I say my helmet is off to them?

After our breakfast we headed up and got on the Blue Ridge Parkway at about mile marker 26 and were going to ride to mile marker 0 down at Cherokee, NC.  We were gaining in altitude the first part of the ride and within the first 10 miles the temperature dropped from 85°F to 69°F!  The road is just as fun as I remember it and there was almost no traffic on the Parkway.  We had the nice curvy road almost all to ourselves.  It seemed like we could almost reach out and touch the clouds.  After lunch in we did decide to drop in at the Wheels Through Time museum.  I’ve heard so much about this museum and was told it was a “must see”.  Personally I was quite disappointed.  First off it’s not just motorcycles of any kind, but only American motorcycles.  Yes there were some interesting things to see but there didn’t seem to be any order to it.  You didn’t follow a timeline, it was more haphazard and you had no way of telling what a lot of the stuff was.  I mean you could look and say, “Oh that’s a V-twin, you can’t read what it is but I bet it’s a Harley or an Indian.”  Plus it was hot inside too.  Now there was an interesting Harley Davidson upstairs that if you took a quick glance at some angles you might thing it was a BMW GS series motorcycle.  There was a WWII display that had a Harley Davidson that was quite apparently a Harley/BMW hybrid.  Most of the parts said Harley Davidson but that sure was an old boxer twin and a shaft drive put in that Harley frame somehow.  I thought it was quite a display of ingenuity in using what you could scrounge.  I wondered if it was American mechanics who scrounged the BMW parts or German mechanics that scrounged the Harley parts.  But the place really didn’t tell you the history of the American motorcycle.  I felt like I was going to run into the guys from American Pickers at any minute.  Sunday was also the day that a guy showed up with a Harley on a trailer, unloaded it, and then parked his motorcycle, the trailer and his SUV all in their own spaces.  Yes he took up 3 spaces in a hotel that had limited parking already.  We thought it was funny how some of the Harley riders at the hotel, you know the ones who rode their motorcycles, were talking about that guy.  For dinner that night we decided to try a BBQ restaurant called Butts On The Creek.  Take our advice and if you’re ever in Maggie Valley, don’t bother with it.  It was probably the blandest BBQ pork I’ve ever had.  It was gray and flavorless.  There was no smoke flavor or BBQ flavor to it at all.

After some pretty bad storms on Sunday night we woke up on Monday morning to clear skies and it was time for use to head home.  After a hardy breakfast we loaded the Magic Carpet and said goodbye to Maggie Valley and were back home by early afternoon.  Oh we did stop in Jasper, GA for a nice BBQ lunch though.  It even looked and tasted like BBQ!

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Florida And Back

Last Sunday I headed down on a solo trip to Florida to visit my Dad in the Daytona Beach area.  It’s a trip that’s made a couple of times a year.  The route isn’t anything spectacular as the whole idea is to get there.  As you can imagine it’s all interstate highways to get there (although we have an alternate or two) going down I-75 to I-10, around Jacksonville on I-295 (believe me, you want to go around Jacksonville and not through) and then I-95 to my destination.  See, I told you it was an interesting route.  Departure is usually early in the morning letting me (or us) arrive in the afternoon.  This trip was a little different and I left late in the morning so I’d get there in the very early evening (when I’m solo I can travel much quicker and take shorter stops).

I forget how hot south-central Georgia can be once you get south of Macon!  In southern Georgia I was motoring along in the center lane with the cruise control set just above 70 mph.  In the right lane there was an SUV pulling an open trailer and I was slowly gaining on them.  As I got closer I could see some children’s bicycles on the trailer along with what looked like some waterproof boxes.  And then I saw it.  There was a BMW R1200GSA travelling on down the road on the trailer!  I slowly pulled alongside and adjusted the cruise control to match his speed.  The driver saw me and energetically waved at me.  I waved back.  Then, I pointed to the motorcycle shaking my head and waving my finger in “no no” fashion like a parent would to a child.  He burst out laughing!  Then he shrugged his shoulders and pointed to his wife (I’m assuming) in the passenger seat, as if to say “It was her idea!”  I motioned again and she started laughing too.  It was kind of fun.  I had hoped I’d run into them at a gas stop or rest area so I could tell him something like “I was going to call 911 when I saw a BMW on a trailer because I thought it was stolen.” or “I knew Harley Davidson was coming out with 2 new models but I didn’t know they looked like an R1200GSA.”  In all fairness to this family they had Canadian license plates so it would’ve been a long family ride.  But, his wife does get major points for letting him bring the motorcycle along.

The rest of the trip went pretty much according to plan until I got to the Jacksonville area.  The skies ahead were darkening and I knew rain was coming.  I went ahead and stopped for my last gas stop on the way.  After gassing up I checked the weather radar and saw storms on a map that was only 2 minutes old.  But knowing the area and seeing the map I felt confident that by getting on I-295 very shortly and then heading south that I’d miss the storms.  Well Murphy’s Law took over.  It wasn’t long down the road when the bottom fell out with one of those good old-fashioned Florida summer thunderstorms. I was wearing a mesh jacket and my Tourmaster mesh pants.  Did you know that rain goes right through mesh gear just like wind does?  In no time I was soaked and there was no overpass around to duck under which to put rain gear on so I motored on.  The thunderstorm lasted only about 10 minutes and then I was riding on dry road again.  But I also found out that mesh riding gear also dries off really quick too.  I had 2 more bouts with the rain once I got on I-95.  After the second thundershower I just left the rain pants on and left the rain liner in the mesh jacket.  I did get pretty warm.  That last hour and half or so was the worst part of the trip and got me to my Dad’s much later than expected.

Once there it was the typical visiting my Dad.  I always knew that my Dad had originally enlisted in the Marine Corps at 15 years old during WWII and was sent home when it was discovered.  One rainy day over lunch on the water, and a beer in my Dad, I got the full story.  It was the summer of 1945 and he was 15 years old and falsified his age to join the Marines.  The Drill Instructors had been coming in since the beginning and telling them that if they were not old enough to be there to step forward.  The Boots (recruits) would even be pushed onto to bunks or onto the floor.  They were several weeks into Boot Camp and he figured they were on to him.  So when they said to step forward if you weren’t old enough, he did, along with a guy across the aisle too.  They were both ushered off and interviewed separately by the Drill Instructor.  My Dad said the Drill Instructor asked him what he wanted to do and what he thought should be done to him.  He said the demeanor was now different, apparently since he now knew he was speaking with a 15-year-old boy.  My Dad said they were halfway through with Boot Camp and he felt he had a duty to complete it.  He was sent out to rejoin his platoon and complete Boot Camp and wasn’t treated any different from anyone else.  He said that Parris Island was packed with Marines who had already completed Boot Camp and were continuing their training right there while they were living in “tent cities” while the Boots were in barracks.  One day the platoon was gathered and they were told that a “secret bomb” had been dropped on Japan, that the one bomb had leveled an entire city and it was hoped it would end the war.  It was years later when he learned that after Boot Camp that their training was for the invasion of the home island of Japan.  There were told only it would be the fiercest fighting ever faced by the Marines or the Army.  They continued to train.  Japan surrendered and they continued to train.  My Dad graduated Boot Camp and turned 16 years old at Parris Island.  It was October when he was summoned to the Company Commander.  He was told that a relative had written a letter, presumably to a Congressman or Senator that he was too young to enlist.  The war was now over and he was being given a General Discharge under “Honorable Circumstances” with the reason for the discharge being a Falsified Enlistment.  The Honorable Circumstances meant that he could re-enlist when he was old enough, which he later did.  That lunchtime conversation made the entire trip worth while.

"The Loop" in the Daytona Beach area.

“The Loop” in the Daytona Beach area.

A few days later I rode “The Loop”, a short ride that begins in Ormond Beach and goes along the Halifax River and then through two state parks.  Once in the parks you ride though some beautiful marsh land.  A portion of the ride is on the thin strip of land between the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean.  You’ll ride with very large and expensive homes on one side of the street and cinder block bungalows on the other.  As you right between those houses the road is covered by the branches of trees.  I suppose you could ride along the stretch of Highway A1A along the beach that parallels the river side, but you’ve already ridden along the beach to get there.  No beach riding on this ride.  Portions of the ride make you feel like you’re in a remote wilderness.  The ride gets its name from beginning and ending at the same intersection, hence “The Loop”.  Oh, and the trip wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to BMW Motorcycles of Daytona!

I had planned on leaving late in the morning on Friday as I had done to get there.  My hope was to come through Atlanta after rush hour.  My Dad then figured that it was Friday and if it rained in Atlanta I may not miss rush hour.  So it was decided that I should be on the road by 6:30 am.  I was on the road at 6:20 am.  And as luck would have it, I got stuck behind a large crash on I-75 approaching Atlanta.  I took me well over 30 minutes to travel 2 miles.  That extra time put me going right though Atlanta at the beginning of a Friday afternoon rush hour.  My Dad’s idea would have had me at home before rush hour even began.  Oh well.

I made it back home to Donna and the dogs.  Now we’ll be getting ready for trip that Donna and I will be taking next weekend to Maggie Valley, NC.  We don’t know yet if we’ll ride some on the Blue Ridge Parkway or if we’ll go to the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum.

Categories: Daytona, Trips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Want The Shortest Or The Curvy Route?

Earlier in the week I wrote a post about the curvy road feature in Garmin’s Basecamp software for planning routes and transferring them to your GPS.  I said I’d play with it a bit and see how it went.  Well, I haven’t ridden a route planned with it yet but I have let the software work its magic.  I gave it a Point A to Point B route from Jasper, GA to Blairsville, GA.  I let it use the shortest route and then the curvy roads option.  The shortest route came in at 58.4 miles and an estimated trip time of 59 minutes.  The route is all on Georgia Highway 515/US 76 and it’s on a 4 lane highway with a grass median between the opposing lanes.  But, it is a nice ride if you’re in a hurry.  The curvy route was 75.8 miles and had an estimated time of 1 hour and 59 minutes to complete.  The curvy route takes twice as long to complete but sure does look a lot more fun.  I can attest that some parts of the curvy route are even curvier than the map lets on.

The shortest route selected by BaseCamp.

The shortest route selected by BaseCamp.

The curvy route selected by BaseCamp.

The curvy route selected by BaseCamp.

Categories: Accessories | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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