The Big Ride – Culture and the Arts…part 2 (New Mexico)

If you read my last blog titled Culture and the Arts you will know that my travels in New Mexico were filled with some great riding, along with some interesting Spanish architecture and an array of beautiful art.

My visit to Santa Fe was equally as charming.  While there I had the opportunity to stroll through the historical district.  There I met Donna, a former motorcyclist who was helping out a friend at one of the local art galleries.  The gallery had a wonderful collection of Edward Curtis original photographs of North American Indians from the late 1800’s.  Donna also shared an interesting piece of history about the building where the art was being shown.

The room where we were standing was joined to a small office that had been the working space of J. Robert Oppenheimer,  (April 22, 1904 – February 18, 1967) often called the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in overseeing the Manhattan Project, the World War II project that developed the first nuclear weapons.  It seems my travels have been filled with some very interesting history!

The building where Oppenheimer's office was while he lead the
The building where Oppenheimer’s office was while overseeing the Manhattan Project aka developing the A-Bomb

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My visit also included the famous Loretta Chapel which was constructed in the 1870’s.  The chapel resembles the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris but it is on a smaller scale. Before the chapel was completed, the architect died suddenly leaving the builders to realize it lacked a stairway to the choir loft. Due to the chapel’s small size, a standard staircase would have been too large.  The story is that a shabby looking carpenter appeared at the chapel and offered to build a staircase.  He used a small number of primitive tools including a square, a saw and some warm water and constructed a spiral staircase.  The identity of the carpenter is not known.  When the staircase was finished three months later the carpenter was gone. The spiral staircase is twenty feet high and has two complete revolutions up to the choir loft.  There are no nails or apparent center support.  It is an incredible piece of mastery!

Loretta Chapel, built in 1872
Loretta Chapel, built in 1872

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Loretta Chapel spiral staircase
Loretta Chapel spiral staircase

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Another historical landmark in the Santa Fe historical district of interest was the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral which was built during the three year period 1714 to 1717.  Here are a few photos, including one of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) the first North American Indian to be promoted to Saint.  In her final years, she lived in a Jesuit mission south of Montreal in what was then known as New France.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi built 1747-1717
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi built in 1714-1717
Outside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Outside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) the first North American Indian to be promoted to Saint.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) the first North American Indian to be promoted to Saint.

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Here are a few additional photos that you may find interesting.  Enjoy!

Interesting sidewalk art
Cool sidewalk art

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A delighful ceiling in the lounge of the Loretta Inn
A delightful ceiling in the lounge of the Loretta Inn

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Emma will be jealous if she finds out I'm photographing other felines!
Emma will be jealous if she finds out I’m photographing other felines!

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If you know me well, popcorn is my favorite snack - I selected hot green chili...oh my it was deliciously spicy!
If you know me well, popcorn is my favorite snack – I selected hot green chili…oh my it was deliciously spicy!

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A quaint motel in Santa Fe
A quaint motel in Santa Fe
Even the parking garages in Santa Fe have an artistic flair!
Even the parking garages have an artistic flair

Stay tuned and find out where I’m off to next!! 🙂

The Big Ride – Culture and the Arts! (New Mexico)

Two of the States that I have always wanted to visit were Texas and New Mexico, so having the opportunity to visit them back to back was incredibly amazing.  As you know from my last post, Texas surpassed my expectations.  Well, that was also the case with New Mexico!

I was able to spend time in Las Vegas, New Mexico – a small historical town , along with a couple days in Santa Fe.  What a wonderful experience it’s been visiting New Mexico.

My first stop was in Las Vegas, NM, which was established in 1835.  The little town was built around a central plaza in a traditional Spanish style with a plaza surrounded by buildings that would have been used to fortify the city in the event of an attack. With the arrival of the railway in 1880, the town became notorious for it’s reputation of murderers, robbers, thieves, gamblers and  gunmen, including Doc Holliday and his girlfriend Big Nose Kate…I wonder how she got her name…Jesse James, Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp. What’s interesting is that some parts of the town appear to still have a similar “flavour” 🙂

Here’s a few of my favorite photos from Las Vegas, NM.

One of the local
The Plaza Hotel, which apparently is “haunted”

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I could pull this behind my Harley as a spare set of wheels :)
I could pull this behind my Harley as a spare set of wheels 🙂

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From Las Vegas, I headed towards Santa Fe, NM.  The scenery was exceptional!  Here are a few photos from along the way.

One of the many valleys that adorn New Mexico
One of the many valleys that adorn New Mexico

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Amazing scenery on the way to Santa Fe, NM
Breathtaking scenery on the way to Santa Fe, NM
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There were numerous rock formations like this along the way
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There were also a lot of arid dessert like areas along the way
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The roadways swept through the mountains and hillsides making for some very nice riding!

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My travels included a stop at the historic Nambe Trading Post off Route 503.  It’s one of the last authentic trading posts in the area.  There I met Jennifer Jesse Smith, one of the owners of the shop and a local artist. What a wonderful experience that turned out to be.  Jennifer took the time to show me around the trading post and provided a commentary about the wonderful collection she has at the Trading Post, including numerous authentic native artifacts and an array of fabulous pieces of local art, such as handcrafted jewelry, locally woven native blankets, pottery, paintings and more.  Included in the collection were a number of native costumes made by her mother, Cathy A. Smith, the Emmy award winning designer, made for the movie Dances with Wolves which starred Kevin Costner.  If you are in New Mexico, stopping in at the Nambe Trading Post is a must!  Here are a few photos of what you might find there.

Tee-pee made by Cathy A. Smith for her daughter Jennifer Jesse to play in when she was young girl
Tee-pee made by Cathy A. Smith, Emmy-winning costume designer, for her daughter Jennifer Jesse to play in when she was a little girl
Outside the Nambe Trading Post, NM
The Nambe Trading Post, NM

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Costumes made by Emmy-winning costume designer, Cathy A. Smith for use in the movie, Dances with Wolves
Costumes made by Emmy-winning costume designer, Cathy A. Smith for use in the movie, Dances with Wolves
Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves, wearing one of the costumes designed by Cathy A. Smith, co-owner of the Nambe Trading Post
Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves, wearing one of the costumes designed by Cathy A. Smith, co-owner of the Nambe Trading Post

Here are a few other photos that I found interesting.

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A fence crafted from small branches
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Historic wagon outside of the Nambe Trading Post

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Seen at a local cemetery
Seen at a local cemetery
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The fireplace at my hotel in Santa Fe

My time spent touring around Santa Fe is worthy of its own post…stay tuned for Part 2 of “Culture and the Arts!”

The Big Ride – Until we meet again (Texas)

I must say that I’ve enjoyed the past six days in Texas riding through the majestic Yellow Pine forests, through the hill sides and across the grasslands that went on forever until they touched the sky somewhere far off in the distance.  The vast canyons called out to my soul as I traveled over the lands where many a great warrior had gone before me and I was able to share the passion of my dream with numerous locals along the way.

My last stop in Texas was in Amarillo where I visited the notorious Cadillac Ranch that is somewhat immersed after the tumultuous rain falls experienced in Texas a few weeks ago, not to mention a little shopping pleasure and of course being a carnivore at heart what would be a trip through the “cattle state” without enjoying a great steak dinner!

Here are a few final photos for your viewing pleasure:

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Cadillac Ranch - the cars are in a pretty big puddle after the horrendous rains in Texas in the past number of weeks.
Cadillac Ranch – the cars are in a pretty big puddle after the horrendous rains in Texas in the past number of weeks.

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Yup...they're everywhere and Walmart has a huge selection!

Yup…they’re everywhere and Walmart has a huge selection!

I understand the principle but it scares me!
I understand the principle but it scares me!
I caught one!
I caught one!

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A little shopping pleasure before leaving the state:

My new cowgirl boots
My new cowgirl boots
An addition to my collection of belts and buckles
An addition to my collection of belts and buckles
My new friend
A new friend

Go big or go home!

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Go big or go home!
Go big or go home!

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From here my amigos….I’m New Mexico bound!

The Big Ride – When in Rome (Marlin Texas)

The past few days riding across Texas have been memorable.  After leaving Nacogdoches I had the pleasure of chatting with a couple of locals in Marlin, Texas, a small town that was at one time known for its mineral hot spring and a buzz of activity with many people visiting to benefit from its healing properties.

An exuberant Beth Scruggs and her friend Earnest Cluck provided me with an incredible amount of information about that town and its history.  Beth recounted how her father, now 87 was the owner of one of the largest herds of Texas Long Horns.   She went on to say that the Hilton Hotel chain built its eighth high rise hotel in the town to provide accommodations for the many visitors who once flocked to what was a vibrant bustling little town.  The lavish 110 room facility was built by Conrad Hilton in 1929 with a tunnel that led to a bath house across the street.

Visitors included the New York Giants Team who came to Marlin during their spring training between 1908 to 1918 to take advantage of the healing mineral waters.

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Wanting to learn more about the mineral springs and the “little town that was”, I rode over to the Chamber of Commerce to check it out.  There I met Dusty Rhodes, a 67 year old local who claimed that from the time he was a young boy he’s been drinking the water as part of his daily regime.  He was there at the spring collecting water to take home for bathing.

Marlin, Texas - The mineral water capital of Texas
Marlin, Texas – The mineral water capital of Texas

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Doing as the Romans do
Doing as the Romans do

Being the curious type and wanting to do as the Romans do….literally and figuratively speaking, I took the plunge.  Not only did I experience relief when I soaked my hot tired feet in the mineral water…my feet had been stuck in my hot motorcycle boots all day.  I also drank a full glass of the hot salty water.  I must admit I think it made a difference.  I feel wiser as a result and I think I’m a little taller too.  Oh wait…that’s from those new cowgirl boots I bought…but now I’m getting ahead of myself in my story telling and will have to leave that for another blog 🙂

Stay tuned…there’s more to come!

The Big Ride – When the unexpected turns into the spectacular (Little Grand Canyon – Texas)

Riding through Texas has brought so many amazing experiences and riding into Palo Duro Canyon was one of them.  The magnificence of the Canyon was far more than I had anticipated.  From the research I did when planning my trip I knew it was referred to as the Little Grand Canyon.  What I wasn’t aware of was that I would be able to ride down into the base of the canyon on my motorcycle.  Doing so was nothing short of spectacular!

As I started to descend into the canyon I was in a complete state of awe and wonderment at the beauty that unfolded before me.  The layers of the richly coloured rock that was millions of years old called out to me as I navigated my way through the park.  As I rode deeper into the Canyon I could feel the presence of the Comanche Indians who dwelled there just a little over a century ago.  As I looked up to the ridge, in my minds eye I could see them as they prepared for the battle against the US Army that would result in them being forced out of the 120 mile long expansive paradise.  This was the Comanche’s last stronghold.

Palo Duro Canyon, Mexico
Palo Duro Canyon, Mexico
“The Little Grand Canyon”

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Palo Duro Canyon, Texas The Little Grande Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
The Little Grand Canyon

And for those of you who would like to be a part of the ride, here’s a video clip of some of what I experienced while in the Canyon.

Finally, here are a few additional photos to amuse you

Yup...Texan Armadillo Poo It's a big seller out this way
Yup…Texan Armadillo Poo It’s a big seller out this way
Twist and shout!
Twist and shout!

The Big Ride – Miles and miles and miles (Creole Nature Park – Louisiana)

It’s been a few days since I’ve made a post to the blog.  Although in some respects it feels like only a short time ago, in reality, it’s been miles and miles and miles and on a road trip a lot can happen in three days.  Road trips are like that.  Time passes quickly and upon reflection it’s sometimes difficult to recall all of the interesting details but I’ll do my best…just for you.

The last time I posted I was in Morgan City, LA and I had just toured Oak Alley Plantation after leaving New Orleans.  While heading towards Lake Charles I stopped in the historic town of New Iberia to take a couple of photos.

While there I went into the library…I know it sounds strange but road trips lead you to interesting places.  The truth of the matter was that it was about 38 degrees Celsius with plenty of humidity and the library was air conditioned and had facilities.   There I met Jackie, a woman who works there.  She is formerly from Canada and now lives in New Iberia.  She and her colleague chatted with me about the area and suggested I check out a little town called Beaux Bridge located a few miles north.  Thank you ladies for the suggestion!

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Spanish moss adorning a majestic oak tree
Spanish moss adorning a majestic oak tree
Interesting to learn that New Iberia was home to a Prisoner of War camp during the WWII
Interesting to learn that New Iberia was home to a Prisoner of War camp during the WWII
New Iberia close to the library
New Iberia close to the library

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Beaux Bridge is a quaint little town with interesting shops and cafes, including one called “Joie de Vivre” where I was able to treat myself to a frozen latté while being able to admire some local art.  Here are a few of my favorite photos from there.

Beaux Bridge
Beaux Bridge

Breaux Bridge

Breaux Bridge Art

Walkway at Beaux Bridge
Walkway at Beaux Bridge

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The following day led me south of Lake Charles to the Creole Nature Trail which is a 180 mile long loop that includes Louisiana Highway 27 which runs through a part of the Intracoastal Waterway that runs inland from the Great Lakes at home, along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the US down through the Gulf of Mexico.

I set out with hopes of finding an alligator farm and perhaps taking advantage of being close to the sea to enjoy one last roadside lunch of craw-fish.  The scenic byway surpassed my expectations! The vistas were breathtaking! And visiting with the locals who were parked along the roadside and pull offs to take advantage of the crabbing and fishing was equally as refreshing.

I never did find an alligator farm but to my delight, when I stopped at one of the walkways there was an alligator in the wild that was hanging out there.  Yup…alligators hang out waiting for tourists to show up 🙂  I think that locals fed him despite the warnings not to.  Here’s a couple of short videos from the trip through the Creole Nature Trail.

Oh…and I also found a great place to enjoy a craw-fish lunch.  I love when it all comes together!!

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I’ll try to catch up with the blogging over the next day or two.  It’s been a couple of very hot days in Texas…sizzle sizzle sizzle!

sizzle sizzle sizzle!
sizzle sizzle sizzle!

The Big Ride- Taking it easy in The Big Easy (New Orleans – Louisiana)

It’s been three fun filled days of taking it easy in The Big Easy!  Yes, New Orleans, Louisiana is all that it’s said to be and much much more.  The city is rich in history, music and lots of good times.

My route to get here included riding over the 24 mile long bridge that spans Lake Pontchartrain which is 630 square miles. Wow what an awesome riding experience!  Here’s a clip to give you a sense of what it was like.  Yup…it went on forever.

For my stay in New Orleans I chose a small quaint boutique hotel in the French Quarter so I would be in the heart of the historic part of the city.  As it turned out, the Dauphine Orleans Hotel was built in 1821 and has quite a history.  From 1853 to 1917 it was run by May Baily and was known as one of the better named Bordellos that operated on the fringe of the infamous red-light district known as Storyville.

Front of the Dauphine Orleans Hotel
Front of the Dauphine Orleans Hotel

May Baily

Inside the courtyard of the hotel
Inside the courtyard of the hotel

The hotel was only a block away from Bourbon Street which is known for its many bars and jazz clubs. What is interesting is that it was named by the French rue Bourbon after an aristocrat and was a premier residential area prior to the 1900’s before it became known for its many brothels, gaming and dance halls following an attempt to bring reform to the area.  It’s not for everyone but it needs to be experienced at least once…if for no other reason than to say you were there.  My first night in New Orleans I had dinner on the balcony of a great restaurant called Le Bayou that over looked the street while enjoying a traditional southern meal of jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice.  Yes…I even took my motorcycle boots off and traded them in for dancing shoes 🙂

Dinner at Le Bayou on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter
Dinner at Le Bayou on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter
Bourbon Street from the balcony of Le Bayou Restaurant
Bourbon Street from the balcony of Le Bayou Restaurant

Here’s a few of my favourite photos from Bourbon Street.

Shame shame
I couldn’t help myself 🙂
Yup...lots of Spirit here!
Yup…lots of Spirit here!
Is there anything left?
Bottomless and Topless…is there anything left?
Dancing the night away!
Dancing the night away!

For me, a great way to become familiar with a city in a short period of time is to take a Hop-on Hop-Off tour, so that’s what I did while in New Orleans.  The city is rich with history going back to the early 1700’s when it was founded by the French and then later taken over by Spanish rule.  The architecture reflects the Spanish influence and is incredibly beautiful.  Similar to what is seen in Savannah Georgia, many of the buildings are ordained in beautiful black iron.

Here’s a short video from my Hop-on Hop-off tour along with a few shots from around the city.

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Enjoying a little jazz with some locals
Enjoying a little jazz with some locals

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Another interesting aspect about New Orleans is its cemeteries.  Given that the city is below sea level it was found that during heavy rains the remains would rise to the surface, resulting in the need to use above ground crypts as a means of eliminating the problem.  Here is a short clip from my tour of the Lafayette Cemetery…after all no tour is complete without a visit to the cemetery.

From here I’m off to Lake Charles, Louisiana.  On the way I’ll be visiting a historical plantation, checking out a few bayous and perhaps an alligator farm.  What an awesome experience this trip is turning out to be!

The Big Ride – New experiences of every kind! (Gulf Coastal Regional Florida / Biloxi, Mississippi

Over the past few days I’ve ridden through the Gulf Coastal Region of Florida and the word that comes to mind is “breathtaking”.  The beaches are pristine and like no other that I’ve experienced in my time here on this beautiful planet on which we live.  If the Universe is willing I hope to one day return to these parts.  Here is a short video of Navarre Beach located on Santa Rosa Island south east of Pensacola, FL.

My travels also took me to Biloxi, Mississippi which was incredibly historic and filled with new experiences.  Located on the Gulf of Mexico, it was one of the areas devastated by the tropical storm Katrina in 2005.  Some of the buildings were under 30 feet of water, while others were washed away as a result of this powerful hurricane.  As I drove along the shoreline the many empty lots with only the  remains of a foundation or a deserted parking lot reminded me of how lives were dramatically changed as a result of the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States.  Many of the businesses have rebuilt or renovated after the storm and life continues to flourish in this beautiful city.  An example of this is the White House Hotel which was one of the places submerged under 30 feet of water.  It reopened in the past year after extensive renovations.

The White House Hotel, Biloxi MS was submerged under 30 feet of water as a result of Katrina
The White House Hotel, Biloxi MS was submerged under 30 feet of water as a result of Katrina

Whitehouse hotel and bike

The visit to this elegant hotel and restaurant was recommended to me by Ed Miles, a wonderful volunteer I met at the Biloxi Tourist Information Centre.  Another beautiful location in the city!

Biloxi Tourist Information Centre
Biloxi Tourist Information Centre

Here are a few photos of the historic French Quarters.  The area is filled with beautiful little shops, businesses and restaurants, including the Half Shell, a wonderful oyster bar where I had dinner.  Yes I did it!  I tried raw shucked oysters on the half shell.

A first that turned out well!
A first that turned out well!
Biloxi French Quarter
Biloxi French Quarter
Biloxi French Quarter
Biloxi French Quarter
Biloxi French Quarter
Biloxi French Quarter

In  addition to having a wonderful restaurant district, the city has a number of casinos…another first for me.  I’ve lived a sheltered life and not played the slots before which resulted in another favourable experience.  I walked away $33 richer after a few minutes…Ben & Jerry’s were the next to benefit…a win-win experience from my perspective 🙂

Hard Rock Casino
Hard Rock Casino

Biloxi also has a working marina and is home to a large fishing fleet.  The sky is reflective of the heat which reached 38 degrees Celsius earlier in the day.  Yup…it was a little warm riding into the city.  Earlier that day I managed to miss two major showers as I rode towards Biloxi.  You have to love that!

Biloxi marina
Biloxi marina

Biloxi Pier2Biloxi Pier

Biloxi Lighthouse
Biloxi Lighthouse

This was seen on the back of a state police vehicle…a great investment strategy 🙂

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From here my journey has taken me to New Orleans, Louisiana – It’s an amazing fun filled city that is worthy of a blog of its own!  I’ll get back to you when the music stops 🙂

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!

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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – Living Life Out Loud (Hawks Nest, New York)

Today was totally over the top.  One of the first locations I added to my “bucket list” when I started planning this trip was Hawk’s Nest, New York, on Highway 97 – the Delaware River Scenic Route.

Hanging out on Hwy 97
Hanging out on Hwy 97

When I turned the corner and road snaked before me, it literally took my breath away as I was filled with childlike delight.  I must say the experience totally surpassed all of my expectations.  The  ride was so exhilarating I rode it not once…not twice…but three times because I just couldn’t get enough of it.

The one minute video is best viewed on “full screen” mode.

Wow! What an amazing trip this is turning out to be!

Hawk's Nest - Hwy 97 Upper Delaware Scenic Byway
Hawk’s Nest – Hwy 97 Upper Delaware Scenic Byway

The Big Ride – Living the Dream in Real Time (New York)

Today I experienced what living life is really about.  As a personal development and leadership coach I am blessed with being able to help individuals realize their potential and most importantly to live life to its fullest. Being on this trip is allowing me to do just that.  Today I experienced it through someone I met along the way.

While riding from Lake Placid towards Lake Scanadaga I took Highway 8 which hugged the curves of a series of lakes.  I stopped in Hague, NY to take advantage of one of the beautiful lakes that was nestled in behind a park filled with ornamental fruit trees that were in full bloom.    

When I pulled into the parking lot there was another motorcycle…a red Daucati sport bike.  When I walked down to the lake I met Guenther, an older gentleman who was enjoying his lunch by the water.  What was of particular interest was that he had a motorcycle jacket on the bench next to him.  He and I introduced ourselves and I learned that he was 79 years young and had ridden his bike from Vermont to NY State for lunch…about a 250 mile round trip.  Gunther told me that he’s been riding since he was 18 years old and that this was his seventh Dacauti sports bike.  He said he just can’t stop 🙂


What an inspiration to meet a person who is living his life out loud and continues to enjoy his passion of riding motorcycles at 79 years of age.  As I rode away I was filled with a knowing that this is what life is really about.  It’s about following our dreams and doing the things that we love most.

Thank you Gunther for reaffirming what my heart has been telling me all along.  Ride on!!