The Big Ride – Sweet mountain byways! (West Virginia)

I have to say that it’s been two days of sweet mountain riding!  The roads have been exceptional.  Yesterday (Monday May 18, 2015) was a rain free day despite having been chased by a number of ominous rain clouds through the mountains heading from Elkins, WV, to Summersville, WV on Route 219.

I have to say, Route 219 is one of the nicest highways out there.  It’s one beautiful curve after another and I’m loving it!  If you are planning a trip down this way you might want to build it into your route.  And remember, when the signs say 20 miles per hour…yup best to get into first gear because there are some very tight curves on this route and they just might sneak up on you.

Here’s a few shots from yesterday:

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North Bend Monongahela National Forest
North Bend Monongahela National Forest

And here is a short video clip of yesterday’s ride….enjoy!

And here is a little clip from today’s ride (Tuesday, May 19, 2015) from Summersville to Charleston, WV.  The camera is in a new position and offers a very interesting view – hope you like it 🙂

The Big Ride – Riding on a cloud (West Virginia)

Thursday, May 20, 2015 was a spectacular day for a number of reasons.  The first was spending two nights in Charleston, WV which meant a day that did not involve having to load up my bike.  I know, life is tough but I’m a woman and I brought a lot of stuff with me so the break was really appreciated 🙂

The second thing that made the day spectacular was the ride.  When I was doing the route planning I contacted the West Virginia Harley Owners Group and they forwarded me a great brochure, which included what ended up being an incredible ride.  In fact it may well have been the best so far. The route started out with a few miles on Highway 3, also known as Coal Miners Road.  The ride which was one sweeping curve after another was made even more pleasant by the sweet smell of wild white roses growing along the roadside.

Wild white roses growing long the roadside in West Virginia - Route 3
Wild white roses growing long the roadside in West Virginia – Route 3

In the past few days I’ve learned a great deal about West Virginia heritage, along with the impact the coal industry is having on the local economy.  A young coal miner that I met on the way told me that many of the mines are being closed in favour of finding a cleaner energy source…the problem however is that another energy source hasn’t been established despite 40% of the State still relying on coal as it’s main energy source.  Some of the towns I rode through were literally boarded up as a result of mine closures.  A dreadful place to be for many.

The route continued to Highway 41 which was a quiet secondary road that wound through the countryside and into Babcock State National Park.  What a delight that was.  The park was quiet as many campers and travelers are holding out for Memorial Day weekend which is just around the corner.  The park was made up of a series of one way routes that wandered through the beautiful green forest.

Babcock National State Park, West Virginia
Babcock National State Park, West Virginia

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The ride also included a stop in Hawks Nest State Park which is very picturesque and pristine.  This provided an opportunity for a little stroll in the woods.  I hope you enjoy the walk with me:

And of course, what would a ride be without some awesome twisties.  Hawks Nest State Park on Route 60 was spectacular and this loop turned into some of the best riding yet. This is not a route for the faint of heart.  It was a series of hairpin corners that required some fancy work with the shifter.  Much of the ride was in second and third gear with several opportunities to get down to the nitty gritty of first gear.  Gotta say it was challenging…especially with a number of 18 wheelers on the road and those big shiny chrome grills heading for you as you’re navigating hairpin turns.  Yup…I loved every minute of it!!

Here’s a video that incorporates both Babcock Park and a little of Route 60:

The Big Ride – When the Universe hands you a little rain (West Virginia)

On Thursday, May 20, 2015, I woke to the inevitable…it was a dreary rainy wet day. So what do you do when it rains? 

This was part of it:

Along with a little of this:

Today the sun is back with a high of 26 degrees celsius so “I’m walking on sunshine”

The Big Ride – It keeps getting better and better (Virginia / North Carolina)

On Thursday, after rolling into Wytheville, Virginia I put my culinary skills to good use and prepared dinner with a little help from a local grocery store where I picked up a rotisserie chicken and supplies for a tasty spinach salad.

Here’s a shot of what Chef Bonnie-r-dee whipped up for dinner:

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Friday (May 22, 2015) was filled with some awesome riding on Route 221 from Wytheville, Virginia to Hickory, North Carolina.  I know I’ve said this before but this was some of the best riding yet.  The roads swept gracefully through the countryside winding over the lush green hills.  The pavement was some of the best making my riding smooth as my bike and I found oneness in the rhythm.  It was beyond belief.

Here’s a short clip of the ride and the beautiful countryside:

Today, Saturday May 23, 2015  included a stop at a roadside market where I experienced fresh picked peaches, luscious juicy sweet watermelon, freshly made pecan rolls and fried peanuts. This kept me occupied so I was able to avoid the ice cream 🙂

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Enjoying a  juicy fresh picked peach in South Carolina
Enjoying a juicy fresh picked peach in South Carolina

Gourd….I mean Gord….this one is for you 🙂

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From here the route took me to Chester State Park for an enjoyable afternoon stop by the lake which was surrounded by majestic pine trees that stretched to the sky.

Chester State Park, South Carolina
Chester State Park, South Carolina

Here is a video of part of the park for your viewing pleasure.

Tomorrow I’m Savannah bound…I can hardly wait!

The Big Ride – History History History! (Savannah, Georgia)

You may have been wondering what I’ve been up to for the past few days…well let me tell you.  It’s been pretty interesting being in the south and particularly in Savannah, Georgia!  If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I love curvy roads, old cemeteries and interesting architecture and this trip is satisfying all of these interests.

On the ride to Savannah I took Route 321 and came across a couple of treasures.  The first was on old abandoned service station with the most amazing architecture. Here’s a few photos of what I found:

Abandoned service station, Route 321 South Carolina
Abandoned service station, Route 321 South Carolina

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The other treasure was an antique store that had a great collection of old service station signs.  I’m sure that some of you will recognized a few that haven’t been around for awhile.

Antique store on Route 321, South Carolina going towards Savannah, Georgia.
Antique store on Route 321, South Carolina going towards Savannah, Georgia.

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Entering Savannah, Georgia was pretty spectacular with the expanse of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge.  The river separates South Carolina and Georgia.  My hotel was fairly close to the bridge which is located on the north side of Savannah’s Historic District.  At night you can see the cars crossing over to South Carolina which is located on the other side of the bridge.

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Touring the city was even more wonderful than I had imagined.  It is very different from Charleston, South Carolina which I visited two years ago on one of my motorcycle vacations.  Savannah was established in the late 1700’s and built around 24 squares of which 22 continue to exist today.  Unfortunately two of the city squares were lost to development of a highway and a parking garage.

One of the 22 remaining city squares in Savannah, Georgia
One of the 22 remaining city squares in Savannah, Georgia

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Savannah squares - Copy

The city’s history is rich and filled with stories of financial ruin due to an economic crisis in 1819, followed by a fire in the warehouse district along the river where cotton, lumber, and turpentine were stored for shipping.  You could have seen that one coming.  This was then followed by an outbreak of yellow fever in 1820, which was believed to have be the result of something airborne.  The lack of hygiene wasn’t considered, despite human waste being dumped into the streets, river, and nearby swamps.

Many of the historical homes are breathtakingly beautiful and have been restored with incredible attention to detail and past historical significance.  Photography is not allowed inside the houses but as you will see from some of the pictures, the exteriors are equally as amazing and very rich in detail and architectural design.

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Cast iron detailing is used on many of the buildings
Cast iron detailing
is used on many of the buildings

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Cast iron downspout
Cast iron downspout

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Many of the city streets in the Historic District are paved with brick and river stones making it interesting for scooters and motorcycles.  As a result the trolley bus was my primary mode of transportation while in the city 🙂

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The cemetery was also of interest with many of the grave markers going back to the late 1700’s.  Tragically, many of the tombstones were vandalized by the Union soldiers from the north when Sherman brought 60,000 troops into Savannah which had only 20,000 residents at that time.  The headstones that were vandalized are displayed on the back wall of the cemetery.  Interestingly, the tour guide mentioned that over the years the deceased were buried one on top of another until there was as little as two feet of soil between the remains and the surface.  This eventually caused a problem resulting in many of the bodies being  exhumed and moved to new cemeteries.

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In addition to the history and amazing architecture, Savannah is filled with a wonderful selection of street cafes, restaurants and pubs to suit all tastes and budgets.  One of the places I dined at was Corleone’s, a wonderful Italian restaurant close to the City Market and my hotel.  Christine, thank you for the wonderful service and it was nice running into you while we were walking around town.

Corleone's is a wonderful Italian restaurant with amazing food, including home made Tiramisu that was to die for!
Corleone’s is a wonderful Italian restaurant with amazing food, including home made Tiramisu that was to die for!

Another interesting experience was to taste boiled peanuts which is a snack enjoyed by many of the locals.  In the early 1800’s when the Union Army was then occupying Savannah food supplies were dwindling and the soldiers resorted to boiling peanuts in salty water as an alternate food source.  I must say they were tasty.

Corleone's is a wonderful Italian restaurant with amazing food, including home made Tiramisu that was to die for!

I must say that visiting Savannah was a wonderful experience!  If  Savannah, Georgia is not yet on your bucket list, I’d highly recommend that you add it as it’s well worth the trip.

Next stop…Florida here I come!  And I’m thinking I just might need to trade in my motorcycle boots for sandals 🙂

The Big Ride – Heavenly Sunshine (Florida)

My ride on Welcome to FloridaWednesday, May 27, 2015 took me from Savannah, Georgia to Daytona Beach, Florida with a stop in St Augustine, Florida.  Not having visited Florida before, I took advantage of stopping at the Tourist Centre when I crossed the state line.  It was an impressive centre offering numerous free publications, informative staff and “fresh Florida orange juice”.

Enjoying fresh Florida orange juice at the State Information Centre
Enjoying fresh Florida orange juice at the State Information Centre

The stop in St Augustine was very pleasant.  What a beautiful little town. The weather was warm…okay it was darn right hot out yesterday and by the time I left I was riding without my motorcycle jacket in an effort to keep me from melting into the pavement.

You know you are south when all you can see in the distance are palm trees
You know you are south when all you can see in the distance are palm trees

St Augustine is one of the oldest cities in the US and was founded in 1565 by the Spanish and served as the capital city of Florida for a couple hundred years during the the Spanish rein.  The Spanish influence is evident in the architecture which was impressive and left me with the impression that I was transported back in time.

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St Augustine

Here’s a great “tip jar” I saw while picking up an iced coffee before heading back out on the road to Dayton Beach, Florida.

I love the establishments sense of humour :)
Money the root of all evil – Cleanse yourself here 🙂

My arrival in Daytona Beach was finished off with a fresh seafood dinner on the patio of my hotel which over looked the ocean, followed by a walk on the beach as the sun started to set.  Nothing beats kicking off your motorcycle boots and feeling the warmth of the ocean lapping against your feet.  The ride in the heat to get here was oh so worth it!!

A walk on the beach
A walk on the beach

The Big Ride – Timing is everything! (Daytona Beach Florida – Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Dealership)

It’s interesting how things work out.  Over the past few days I was experiencing some problems with my bike when trying to shift up into second gear.  I know…I know…it’s a Harley 🙂

When I rolled into Daytona Beach at the end of the day I stopped at Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley Davidson Dealership and arranged to stop back this morning thinking it was a minor clutch adjustment.  Later in the afternoon I happened to be by a Yamaha dealership and asked if they could adjust my clutch cable.  When looking at it the mechanic thought that there might be a problem with the inner primary and suggested I have it looked at.  Thank you Daytona Fun Machines for the excellent diagnositcs!

This morning when I returned to the Harley Davidson Dealership I was impressed not only with the service experience but also with their efficiency and the hospitality that was extended.  The Service Advisor, Jacob Snyder, ensured that  my bike was looked at as soon as I arrived, while the Customer Relations Manager, Jean Abeling took the time to tell me about their impressive dealership, one of the largest in North America.  She also introduced me to one of the principles, Mandy Rossmeyer Campbell who was interested in learning more about the epic motorcycle trip that I was on.

Bruce Rossmeyer's Daytona Harley Davidson Dealership where Highway 1 meets the I-95
Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley Davidson Dealership where Highway 1 meets the I-95

I must say that the Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Dealership is like none-other that I’ve been in.  First of all I rode my bike into the dealership when I checked it in.  From there it is placed on a ramp that took it up to the second floor where there were 42 bays.  The dealership has a coffee shop, smartphone charging stations, merchandise and parts, chroming and detailing as well as the the late Mr. Rossmeyer’s bike collection on display.  Here are a few photos from the dealership.

Checking my bike into the Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Harley Davidson Dealership
Checking my bike into the Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Harley Davidson Dealership

Smartphone stations

Lounge area and coffee shop inside dealership
Lounge area and coffee shop inside dealership

Collection

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Working on my tan in sunny Daytona Beach
Working on my tan in sunny Daytona Beach

My repairs were covered under my extended warranty so while my baby was in having the sprocket replaced  in the inner primary, along with a new shifter, I was enjoying another day in sunny Daytona Beach.  This included some much needed beach time and an opportunity for my legs to see a little sun.  If you know me well, my legs are always white at the end of riding season so the odd day of sun is always welcomed 🙂

As well, I had the opportunity to check out some local favorites and enjoyed dinner at a great BBQ spot called the Daytona Pig Stand.  It was a carnivours delight! I ordered a combination plate of BBQed ribs, brisket and smoked chicken.  Hmmmm

A carnivour's delight!
A carnivour’s delight!

Porkchoppers

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Pig Stand decor
Pig Stand decor

The decor was a little on the wild side as well 🙂

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After dinner I stopped off at the Iron Horse Salon and Kyla, one of the employees provided me with a personal tour of their establishment which was interesting.  I can only imagine how interesting this place must be during Daytona Bike Week when there are about 100,000 bikers in the area.

Iron horse saloon
Iron Horse Saloon

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The Tree House
The Tree House

Now that my baby is back on the road I’ll be heading out in the morning to see more of Florida.  Stay tuned…there’s more to come!