Sunday, November 27, 2016

Florida in November.

It’s been more than a few weeks since the last update.  For the most part, it’s been quiet and not too cold.  Here’s the recap, pictures in no particular order.

In South Carolina I spent some quality time with my brother Jim and got to see a couple old friends.  Good times were had by all, I assure you.  I camped a a few nights at the Brick House Campground in the Sumter National Forest.  One day  I took off on my KTM and got seriously lost in the woods.  All roads lead nowhere for a while.  Adventure!  I found my way out using a compass and watching for power lines that led to a road and a locked gate.  I was already on the wrong side of the gate but was able to get under gate with little effort.  

Getting new tires in Florida

I raced through Georgia.  Due to time constraints caused by bad planning, I had to miss out on seeing some distant friends (although I’m not gone yet) and finally made it to Florida where I managed to keep the appointment I’d made many months ago: dinner with a nephew to celebrate our respective birthdays.  He vaguely remembered the plan I’d rushed across the country for….

Camping near Gainesville.

Then I made a short trip back to the mountains of north Georgia to tear up some new tires on the Ducati while the frost remained at bay.   After a couple of days,  a fork seal let go and there was a bit of oil everywhere.  And some frost in the mornings, as it must.  So south again, to the Ocala National Forest while parts were on order, from Italy.  There I picked up a rusty old nail in the rear tire on the KTM, forcing a road-side tube change.  At least I had the supplies I needed with me!  It was about 6 miles back to camp.

North Georgia Mountains in November.

Bit of fork oil.  Not a good sign.

It’s deer season in Florida, so for my own safety, I was camping in a designated campground.   It’s not so bad if you don’t mined neighbors with generators.  I mind a little, but it’s deer season and the sound of a generator is better than being shot near.

So a few more weeks bouncing around Florida before I depart, heading back out west.  Future plans include finishing the Great Divide Mountain bike route.  If you haven’t already, go to this Tumblr account to see pictures from last May on the Great Divide. Paul's Tumblr

Two-Striped Walking Stick can shoot caustic juice that can burn skin and eyes.  I figured as much since they were obvious and oblivious.  Other names for the same bug (and I'm not making these up): devil's riding horse, prairie alligator, stick bug, witches horse, devil's darning needle, scorpion, and the musk mare.  

Alligator not pictured.

Flat tire.

Rusty nail.

road-side repairs

Monday, October 10, 2016

Indiana to South Carolina in five and a half weeks!

Where does the time go?  Just months ago I was leaving Michigan behind, and now, here I am in South Carolina!  A lot of miles in a short time.  I had set a goal of being in Florida by the 15th of October but didn’t leave New Mexico till the 5th of June.  Probably should have taken a more direct route with so little time but I don’t take direct routes very often.

Also, I upgraded the software on my phone where most of my pictures are.  And now it doesn’t talk to my computer, despite being made by the same company.  Looking online, the problem seems to be a popular one but not easily solved.  When it is fixed, I’ll update this post with pictures.  For now, I have only a few pictures taken with my camera (not my phone), so enjoy the good-old-fashioned reading!

First stop after Michigan was Indianapolis to see my friend Jake and his ever-growing family.  While there, I got to see top-fuel drag racing.  In person, the racing is overwhelming to all 5 senses.  If you are a motor-head at all, consider going.  
Haunted Bridge

Then I once again stopped at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, OH.  They’ve opened up a fourth building and it is amazing.  You really need to visit it if you are anywhere near Dayton.  Or Ohio.   Or North America.
Smart Car with a trailer full of racing fuel.

I followed that up with a visit to Big Muskie.  It is a bucket, all that remains of the largest thing ever made that could move under its own power on land.  No fancy buildings, no entry fee, no lines.
Big Muskie
Big Chain link.

Big Muskie's bucket

From there I went up to Cleveland where I was a (front seat) guest of the local police for an afternoon.  It was uneventful but fun to catch up with my old friend Chad and his family.  
Definitely in the front seat.

Following the Lake Erie shore line till I arrived at the wonderful Mazza Winery.  It was nice to re-connect with my friend Mario and meet his wife.  Alas, it’s grape harvest season and the worst time to visit there.  I hope to be back at a better time of year. 

Then into Pennsylvania for some camping and exploring and motorcycle riding.  All were fun, the weather was great, but the camping was a bit pricy.  Maybe it’s the proximity to NYC that pushes the prices up?  Whatever, it was a long, slow, painful kick in the budget.  
Cool house, recently sold.

7000 sq ft humidor.

I drove down into Virginia and spent a few days camping cheap (my favorite) on the VA and West Va border.  I’ve spent time there before and it helped me not get lost quite as often.  

In Charlottesville, I visited Robert, a friend since 2002.  Always good to see him, and any day now, he should be taking up an e
xtended road trip of his own!  I can’t wait to read his blog.

The Blue Ridge Parkway starts near Charlottesville and runs south at a leisurely pace.  Perfect for me and Vanna White, and it helped me get to Charlotte, North Carolina, to see one of my oldest friends, Scott.  We met shortly after my first motorcycle purchase and despite years of both of us randomly moving around the country we always managed to keep in touch.  He’s hardly changed in all these years and it’s fun to reminisce.  
Just your average cabin covered in coffee mugs.

Hurricane Mathew made me want to be farther from the coast so it was back up to the mountains.  After a great dinner with a friend near Asheville, I was moved to various campsites in the Pisgah National Forest.  The last one was a bit scary though.  As the fringe of the storm whipped through, high winds were expected.  I found a nice clearing to park in, surrounded by tall, young trees.  

That night, in my roof tent, I lay awake much of the time listening to the wind howl.  Every 5-10 minutes, I would hear the cracking and crashing of another tree going down.  I felt confident in the ones surrounding me, they were not too big and plenty flexible.  But the big ones going down could easily have made the road out of the campsite (about 4 miles, 1 lane dirt road) un-passable.  

In the morning I took a walk with a cup of coffee, and found one big branch in the road.  Other than that, it looked okay.  A couple miles down the road, there was a whole tree across the road, but some kind soul had already been there with a chainsaw.  

So a near miss at a great opportunity to be trapped in the woods, forced to camp and motorcycle and mountain bike and read books and enjoy life till rescue arrived.  

Next time, I’ll pick a better spot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mid-west humidity is awesome!

     I've been in the mid-west for a while now.  Wonderful place, the mid-west.  Full of stuff and... things.   Mostly (entirely), I'm here for the people.  Certainly not the weather.  They humidity is often over 90%, which in people terms is "pretty muggy."
     In Wisconsin I visited nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and a couple of great-great-nieces and nephews.  Makes a guy feel old sometimes.

rough road in northern Wisconsin

     I got to see a lot of people that I hadn't seen in a while due to spending a lot of time out west.  Its good to reconnect, definitely worth taking time for.  A good use of my time, even though it meant less days on motorcycles and bicycles.  

car museum in Indiana

"Old Ben," the world's largest steer.  Over 4700 lbs when he slipped on the ice and broke a leg in February, 1910.

aviation museum

half-track made of toothpicks and glue.  No Smoking!!

Huey helicopter museum.  3 birds, no AC.  

a day late for the mud bogs.

This bike was fun to ride but I don't see them catching on.  

It's tough to get a clear picture of Dexter the Greyhound.

Swan table is for sale.  Let me know if you're interested, I'll put you in touch with the artist.

Van alternative?  Intriguing. 

Slightly overexposed dinosaur mailbox.  The sign he's holding says "I said no more junk mail!"  The sign in the background says "Beware: property protected by dinosaurs and pitbulls."

Actual working phone booth.  Seen in northern Michigan and I didn't notice the price of a call.

       Paul and I took a little mountain bike tour.  190 miles, mostly on easy rail-trails.  We felt pretty good about our ride, two easy days and one hard day.  Two days later, a young guy named Roy did the entire thing in less than 12 hours.  We could do that, if we wanted.  But then what would we do with all the rest of our free time?  It's good to be retired.  

Coming soon: more Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Then Virginia, NC, SC, GA, and FLA!

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Once again, I feel like I'm taking my stuff on a high-speed tour of the country.  I'm writing this in northern Wisconsin, but I haven't been on a motorcycle since North Dakota.  I know, that's only a couple states away, but they are big states.  Plus part of Canada.   

I did get to see some of the Canadian province Manitoba.  It was interesting, just different enough to know you weren't home anymore, but not different enough to feel alien.  Less pavement.  More distinctive town borders.  More novelty art (see photos below).  

But that is behind me now.  Ahead lies Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Updates and photos coming soon!

South Dakota house cat.

Not sure what was going on here.  

North Dakota bad lands.

Small farms only have one cow.

The road goes on forever and the party never ends.

Small Canadian town, giant plastic banana.  Obviously  

Why a camel in this Canadian town?   The banana was taken!

Hello Gichi-gami!

KLR 650 with a sidecar.  Probably not fast.