It was a hot ride today, 300 hot, dusty miles. Past well known border towns like Del Rio (Cuidad Acuna), Eagle Pass (Piedras Negras), Loredo (Nuevo Loredo) and then inland past towns like Encinal, San Diego, Benevides, Freer and Kingsville. Past the booming shale oil fields that suddenly "sprung" up as oil neared $100 per barrell. Then down to the quiet solitude of Baffin Bay and Riviera Beach.
The bikes are parked for the night. Tomorow Ricardo and I will wash them, but tonight is for resting. This adventure was great! Before we left I estimated we would ride 6000 miles. Ricardo just checked our mileage and we actually rode 5962 miles. Pure dumb luck on my part!
And how many states did we explore. I am not sure, help me count them. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma---I think that is 16! Plus The District of Columbia, but we actually did that in John Gribbin's car.
Over the next several days we will begin to plan next year's adventure. Ricardo wants to ride and tour Alaska. I have already done that once, but I certainly did not tour the entire state. So, Alaska is a real possibility.
Maybe the Texas Hill Country is not my home, but I sure love it!
Ricardo and I departed Tyler early this morning before it got really hot. A cool, sensible, ride down Hwy 79 to Georgetown and then Hwy 29 to Llano, TX. Past Lake Tyler, The Brazos River, Buchanan Lake, Inks Lake and the Llano River. Countryside so beautiful...and suddenly we were in Llano where there was a rodeo. And what would a rodeo be without a Texas parade and a festive barbeque right on the courthouse lawn. Free! "Come join Us". Plus the gave us a whole barbequed chicken to take with us. I really like the folks in Llano.
Then 45 miles down the road to Luckenbach. My favorite three hour stop. If you can't chill out in Luckenbach, then there is no hope because "....down in Luckenbach, Texas, ain't nobody feeling no pain".
Dinner at Wheelers' in Fredericksburg. Chicken and dumplins topped off with a bowl of Blue Bell ice cream. But wait, Ricardo had fish and chips and no Blue Bell. He may just be a "northerner".
And tomorrow? Well, the Hunt River Road (Hwy 39) right along the Guadelupe and then a swift run down the "Three Twisted Sisters". Night, probably in Del Rio. Mexico beckons!
Hot, 99 degrees, humid, very humid! Yes, it is clear that we are back in Texas. First stop, in Tyler to secure a room for the evening. Then off 40 miles to the west to Canton, TX, the home of the Canton Traders Days, the worlds largest outdoor flea Market.
Depending on the week, there are 3500 to 5000 vendors here at this market. This week, this town of 3700 people is expecting 250,000 attendees at the market.
The market really covers the entire town. Ten or more venues, all hot and dusty. Ricardo and I eagerly awaited exploring this vast array of treasures--maybe junk! But within 90 minutes, we knew it was not for us. Nothing really of interest and yes it was hot, dusty, humid and hot. So once again we were on our bikes headed back to the comfort of the La Quinta in Tyler.
And tomorrow? We are headed out early before the heat reaches it's zenith. Headed southwest down Hwy 79 towards Austin and the Texas Hill Country. Maybe to Luckenbach (Let's go to Luckenbach Texas, home of Willie, Waylon and the boy's. This successful life we're living has us fighting like the Hatfields and McCoys). Then maybe to Fredericksburg and some homemade peach ice cream.
Then off to ride The Three Sisters (Hwys 335, 336 and 337), a must do ride for Texan motorcyclists.
Leaving Streetsboro, OH at 8:00 AM, it looked as if it would rain at any moment. But soon the skies began to clear and the sun peeked through. Sailing across I80, through the "heartland of the USA", across Ohio and most of Indiana--some 400 miles.
Past the great cities of Ohio. Youngstown, Akron, Cleveland, Toledo--all cities of great industries. Past farms of rolling fields, sturdy and immaculate farm houses. On into Indiana and past Elkhart, the city that gave us the RVs, travel trailers and even mobile homes. On to South Bend, IN, the home of the majestic Notre Dame. A mandatory ride into the campus, with my mind turning to one of the great alumnus of that university, the late Frank O'Brien,
Then a stop at the Studebaker National Museum. A thrilling tour of a museum that houses literally hundreds of pristine Studebakers. From the Conestoga wagon to the beautiful roadsters of the 30s, to the Army and USMC trucks built for WWll, the Korean War and even the Viet Nam War. Past the beatiful vehicles of the 50s and the 60s, the Studebaker Champions, my favorite car of all time, the 1956-1957 Golden Hawk. And yes, the super modern Avanti of the 60s. A living tribute to Raymond Lowery, certainly the most artistbuiltic and innovative designer of all automotive history.
Then back on the bikes and Interstate 80, skirting around Lake Michigan with it's fierce and cold wind enveloping Ricardo and me. Cold! Finally coming upon our exit to Merrillville, IN and the warmth of the LaQuinta
Monday morning we sadly bid the gracious Saulino's adios and headed out Hwy 30 through the Amish countryside. Beautiful, well maintained farms, the ever present Amish buggies and the unique, but conservative attire of the Amish--Ricardo took many photographs.
Across the Pennsylvania Turnpike, under clouds filled with moisture, it was a great ride. Always, it looked as if it would pour rain, but the gods were with us. We never encountered any rain. Past Pittsburgh, the bikes galloping swiftly, and onward into Ohio. Soon we were in friendly Streetsboro where we spent a quiet evening. Turkey and dressing for dinner. And yes, coconut cream pie for me and lemon for Ricardo.
This morning we head west, planning to spend the night in Merrillville, Indiana. But first we must ride 400 miles, dodging the rain.
A short, but rainy ride from Annapolis to Philadelphia. Normally, it is a two hour ride but Friday Ricardo and I managed to do it in six hours. Maybe it was because of the rain or more likely it was because of a long stop in beautiful Harve de Grace. While there we also did our laundry.
Arriving in Philadelphia, we made our way to the home of my good friends, Mary and John Saulino, who have been our hosts for this extended stay. A great visit, John is preparing a sumptious feast for us tonight, pasta, meatballs, sausages and brachole, along with one of Mary's great salads.
Yesterday John loaned us his car and Ricardo and I toured old historic Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell, Adam's House, Washington's House and even Penn's Landing, Ricardo did it all. And in the afternoon, we made our way to Valley Forge National Park, the serene and beautiful hills where General Washington and the Continental Army spent that long and brutally cold winter.
Today has been a quiet day visititing with Mary, John and their daughter, Jennifer. Tomorrow we will be departing early heading for Pittsburgh then onward across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
And guess what! The forecast is for rain!
An overcast, cool, but pleasant day--the perfect day to tour our Capitol. And with the perfect tour guide, my close friend, John Gribbin.
John picked Ricardo and me up at 9:15 AM today and we were off to Washington. A great day for walking and that is exactly what we did. First, to the Capitol, then a long walk up the Mall to the stately Washington Monument. How magnificent.
Next we walked over to the relatively new, but beautiful World War ll Monument, a monument championed by two great statesmen, but even greater WWll heroes, President George Bush and Senator Bob Dole. Both Ricardo and I were enthralled by this monument to American heroes.
On to the Vietnam Wall. A wall that holds the names of over 58,000 young men and women who gave their lives to this very complex war. A most touching place! Scores, maybe hundreds of people walking in somber reverence. Many men in their 60s, most minorities, who were openly weeping as they recalled the thankless hell where most served and many lost friends and brothers. War! Why?
Then Ricardo was off to the Lincoln Monument, to pay his respects and to take a photograph. Later, a ride to the White House and a slow and respectful drive through Arlington National Cemetary, the resting place of privates, seamen, admirals and President, all who honorably served the USA in the military services.
And finally we ended the night by dining a Jalapeno's, a great Spanish Restaurant here in Annapolis. And to make the evening morelovely, we were joined by my friend Teresa Gribbin
As I stepped out into the cool Chincoteague morning, the rain began. Not hard but steady. Ricardo and I put on our rain suits and mounted up. Four hours later (several stops), we were in old historic Annapolis. Checking into a fine hotel, we were soon off to walk the area of Annapolis surrounding the harbor. Then later this afternoon, my friend John Gribbin, picked us up to join Tim Reid and Barry Hall for dinner. A delightful evening with old and close friends.
We will spend tomorrow wit John seeing the area. If the weather is good, we may go boating. If it looks like rain, we will do the Washington tour. Either way we will enjoy ourselves.
A great night in Sulphur, LA but 8:00 A.M. was departure time. A beautiful morning, cool and slightly cloudy. A perfect day to ride across the enchanting Atchafalaya Swamp, the largest swamp in North America. Bikes running perfectly, if a bit fast. What has happened? I feel ten years younger than I did last week. Maybe it is the mystery and thrill of this new adventure.
Tonight Ricardo and I are in a nice inn here in Meridian, MS. A great dinner tonight with all of the chocolate chip cookies we could eat. And free--imagine that. Tomorrow we have a 150 mile ride to Bessemer, Al., the home of my two grandsons. We will spend a couple of days there before departing for Natural Bridge, VA. Yes, but don't remind me. I know rain is forecast!
Back during the winter months of 2010, I went on line and registered to attend a BMW Bike Rally planned for May 13, 14 and 15 at Natural Bridge, VA. So this morning, on this beautiful Mother's Day, I hopped on the Goose (1993 BMW R100GSPD) and headed out on another adventure. But wait! Who is that rapidly coming up beside me on a Kawasaki 900 LT Classic? Yes, it is Ricardo Collado, my friend from San Jose, Costa Rica. Ricardo flew into Texas last week and will be attending the Rally with me.
But why just go to Virginia? Ricardo has other things in mind--a stock car race, seeing the Chesapeake Bay, a crab roast, maybe a Philly Cheese Steak. How about visiting the Barber Motorcycle Museum? And maybe a major league baseball game. "Chuck, have you ever been to Graceland? And wouldn't it be great to go to a stock car race? I would love to go to a street rod show! And maybe a drag race!"
So we are on the way to Natural Bridge, VA to a BMW Bike Rally, but on the way we are visiting Birmingham, AL to see Justin and Brandon, my handsome grandsons. After the Rally, we are off to Richmond, VA; Chincoteague, VA; Annapolis, MD; Washington, DC; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA. Then on to St. Bede Academy in Peru, Il (that is where Ricardo attended high School from 1970 thru 1972). Then down to Scott AFB, Ill (near St. Louis) where I will see Maddie, my beautiful granddaughter. Then off to Memphis, TN to visit Graceland and Beale Street. And, of course, we must stop to visit good friends in Olive Branch, MS and let Ricardo visit with the great street rod builders that inhabit this northeast corner of Mississippi.
Where next--it is up to Ricardo but I really think we will both enjoy this eclectic ride. But tonight finds us in a LaQuinta Inn in Sulphur, LA. No camping this ride!