Saturday, 31 December 2011

December 6th-8th, 2009 pt.1

Bright and sunny morning; perfect for a day of riding.  Today we’ll finally enter Florida and escape the cold Canadian winter for the first time in our lives.  It’s a neat feeling being a snowbird and not hit the age of 30 yet.  If only I could figure out a way to do this for the rest of our lives; dodge winter and ride all year round. 

We took the back roads for the majority of the ride down to Jacksonville, Florida.  When we got to the city limits we thought it might be a good idea to get off the interstate and take the local roads to EgoDriver71 & MrsEgoDriver; our hosts.  Once again we found ourselves in a shady neighborhood; there wasn’t anyone on the streets that didn’t look our way.  Too much attention; better get back on the interstate. 
We arrived at EgoDriver71 early in the evening and got introduced to the family over some yummy burgers for dinner.  Both EgoDriver71 and MrsEgoDriver ride, which is way cool and the family also owns a nice collection of vintage Indians featured in the Smithsonian.  
1930 Indian 101 Scout

The next day we had to ourselves because both worked in the day.  Amanda went out to get her hair cut, while I had finally made up my mind and rode out to Cycle Gear to purchase bar ends and an Icon Field Armor back protector. 

Dogsitting Hershey!

Before haircut...

...after haircut...Amanda wasn't too impressed.

Then we rode out to an abandoned army base near by recommended by EgoDriver71

Ok!  The coast is clear!
An abandoned explosives silo of some sort

Amanda posing with what used to be the headquarters I guess
Later on that evening we had a nice dinner at Egodriver71 & MrsEgodriver’s parents…with a nice refreshing glass of Boone’s of course!
There were more vintage Indians here!  1949 Indian Arrow
1916 Indian Model K

Here's a painting of a flat track racer pitching his bike out to the side...'s Amanda trying to pitch out...Kermit.

It was a nice ride in the evening back to the house; the warm ocean breeze reminded me of summer once again.  I'm just so glad we made it to Florida without any major problems.  So long for now Canadian winter!
Just shave it all off!
Tribe of Indians preserved.
Quick!  Hide the plutonium!

Friday, 30 December 2011

December 5th, 2009 pt.2

Toes are moving…fingers are moving…ok I’m still alive.  How’s Amanda?  Yep, she’s still breathing.  Phew!  Glad to have been able to sleep through that one.  It was calling for rain, but by the looks of it the weatherman is stumped again.  I didn’t really want to stay here another night anyway.  We broke camp, Amanda and I had ourselves a little quarrel like normal people do, and got as far away from Sumter National Forest as quick as we can.  Riding today was a great time to shake off last night’s fiasco and put it behind me.  Also went through the things I should’ve done better if it were to happen again.  One thing I should’ve done was to record the whole thing on video; wouldn’t be able to see anything because it was so dark, but at least you folks back home can hear what went down.  I sleep with the camera beside my head from now on.  Riding through Southern Georgia country was an interesting experience.  Usually in the surrounding country back home where I used to live in Orillia, Canada, the majority of the population there were white folks.  Out here in Southern Georgia we noticed the majority of the people were black folks.  That’s the beauty of travelling. 
Somewhere between Augusta and Savannah, Georgia where our steeds were introduced for the first time to a palm tree.  We also noticed the weather was finally getting warmer!

When we arrived at Savannah it was dark already.  We were hoping to be in Jacksonville, Fl to stay with EgoDriver & MrsEgoDriver, but the day ended sooner than we expected.  Time to find a place to rest our heads.  There wasn’t any National Forests close by and we didn’t want to risk riding in the dark so it came down to one option in these desperate times in urban areas…Wal-Mart.  We stopped at Krystal Burgers to snag Wi-Fi and pinpoint the location of a store that was close by and preferably open 24 hours; jotted down 2 locations just in case one didn’t work out.  Off we went.  Jumped on I-95 and exited off some street; I just go by what the gps tells me to do.  We start to notice the streets becoming sketchier as we cruise along the street, a group of dodgy looking guys hanging out by the corner, a police officer arresting some guy in a driveway, homeless people all over.  Looks like it’s time to turn back and check out option number 2!  We get to the store and the surrounding area looked alright; typical suburbia neighborhood.  We notice a few trucks and RV’s parked in the back lot so we parked in that area.  There was a security car driving up and down the parking lot so we flagged him over and asked if it was alright for us to pitch a tent on the property.  He said it was alright with him, but we should check in with the manager on duty.  So we did and everything was squared away.  Phew.  This might not be so bad after all. 
Comfort food while updating the ride report
Amanda getting her workout in
Practicing my sword fighting skills
Getting breakfast ready for tomorrow.  What do you think?  Worthy enough to be in People of Wal Mart?
Packing it in for the night at the luxurious Wal Mart.  Complementary around the clock security provided with clean washrooms!
Riderz in da hood.
Security in aisle fourteen!
Comfy patch of grass.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

December 5th, 2009 pt.1

After leaving Bluelghtning & GypsyAngel  yesterday, the game plan was to ride out east and camp somewhere at Oconee National Forest.  When we arrived there, there was plenty of daylight left so we decided to push forward to Augusta, Georgia.  We arrived there at night and stopped at Taco Bell to grab a bite and snag Wi-Fi to see where we’re camping for the night.  Sumter National Forest seemed to be the closest; about 23 km from where we were.  Used the gps to locate a campsite and off we went.  As we rode deeper in the forest, civilization seemed to be scarcer.  The upside to that was nobody will be around to bother us…this is what we hoped for.  We arrived at an intersection where the gps told us to make a right turn; only problem was there was no road to turn on.  We made a right at the next intersection and followed the road until it led to a boat launch by the river.  Well it’s no campsite, but at least there’s a decent patch of grass and it doesn’t look like there’s anyone around to mind.  We rode around the perimeter to check out the surroundings and came across a dead deer just off the side of the parking area.  Clearly it had been shot dead as the bullet wounds were visible.  Couldn’t really tell how long it had been laying there other than the fact that if there’s no predator feeding off of the deer, it should be safe for us to camp here for the night.  I then proceeded to set up the tent while Amanda was out doing her business out in the bushes.  On her way back she heard a noise.  I kept telling her it was probably deer in the bushes, but Amanda remained on high alert.  Moments later I hear Amanda yelp.  I look up and see two flashlights coming out of the brush and walking towards us.  Right at that moment my brain started to go through a series of scenarios of what to do.  We were in the middle of nowhere with no houses within miles of the area; at first when I heard Amanda yelp I thought it was some animal coming towards us, but as soon as I saw the lights, that changes things a bit.  Animals are predictable; they’re either looking for food or protecting their young.  Humans on the other hand aren’t so predictable.  Human’s can be talked to, so that’s good.  I figure we chit chat and hopefully come to a resolution and be on our way.  If negotiations go sour we fight or run or do both; either way we got options and if it ever comes down to the wire; we go all the way.  I just hope that never happens, but just in case it does; I hope I can react accordingly to get us out of any situation.  So the moment of truth has come and I hope we’re ready for the worst; then I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders when I heard the words: “State Police!”  It turns out the two of them are on a stakeout to catch hooligans who are up to no good in the area.  One was a state police officer and the other was a federal officer and they informed us it wasn’t wise to pitch a tent out here in this area.  Instead, they gave us directions to an actual campsite another 30 km north of where we were.  Funny thing came to mind when we were on our way:  It must’ve been hard to breathe when Amanda was doing her business in the bushes.  They must’ve been within a few feet from her. 
On our way to the other campsite, I notice the gps is taking a short cut different from the officer’s directions they gave us.  Oh well, the quicker we get there the quicker we get to relax I thought…unfortunately we weren’t that lucky.  Pavement became dirt and dirt became mud.  We approached a section of mud that made me stop to reassess.  As I turn my head back to ask for Amanda’s opinion, I see her roaring past me and off to the side of the road that didn’t look that bad.  “Never judge a book by its cover” That’s what I’ve been taught; Amanda didn’t seem to have caught that one.  Her bike dug a huge rut and had gotten stuck.  I then proceeded to help push her out and got mud all over my boots and pants in the process.  Now here’s the dilemma:  Do we both continue and risk having to go through worse terrain or call it quits and have Amanda go through that nasty spot again and head back to pavement?  We chose the latter.  I helped pick the rut for her to travel through and told her to keep the throttle constant.  She did a great job and we managed to get back on pavement.  It would’ve sucked to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere; who knows what crazy people might pop out of the woodwork. 

We get to the campsite finally.  What a wild night we thought.  We each have a cup of wine to calm the nerves and proceeded to start a fire.  Off in the distance we hear a dog barking ravenously.  It sounded far enough not to be any worry.  Moments later the barking gets louder and closer and what seemed to be only one dog now became at least three.  What the heck is going on tonight?  Three incidents in one night!  By now the barking is at a point to worry.  I tell Amanda to put her gear and gloves on and have her dog spray at the ready.  They’ll be coming so get ready!  Then we hear shotguns firing and off in the distance—someone with a flashlight.  Of course!  They’re hunting dogs, but where we’re from it is illegal to hunt at night.  Is it the same here?  Do we want to get caught in the middle of a crossfire?  Do we make ourselves visible so we don’t get mistaken as a deer?  Or do we really want to be witnesses of illegal doings?  What do we do? What do we do?  Think!  We better make ourselves visible.  We set our hands-free headlights on to emergency mode so that it’s flashing like a beacon.  By now the hunter is about 75 yards in front us in the thick brush, dogs still barking like the hounds from hell.  The suspense is killing us.  A normal human being would approach us and tell us not to worry.  Should we call the cops?  Couldn’t hurt.  If this is going to be the end of us, the least we could do is inform the authorities of our last whereabouts.  I call 911 and the switchboard operator tells me it’s not their jurisdiction; hang up and try again.  WTF!!!!!!!  I could be running away from an axe murderer and she tells me it’s not her jurisdiction?  I get bounced around 3 more times until finally someone sends the local sheriff to come check us out.  At this point the hunters had jumped in their pickup truck and left.  Meanwhile we decided to hide our boxed wine so when the sheriff came it doesn’t look like we’re just drunks seeing things at night.  When the sheriff finally came he looked perturbed.  We must’ve pulled him away from his donut hangout at this time of night.  He simply told us they were probably coon hunting and drove off.  What does a guy need to do to get a good night’s sleep?
Checking out the mud the morning after

Lick Fork'll always be remembered
Strangers in the night.
Wild dogs are drawing nearer.
Don’t rely on cops. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

December 2nd-4th, 2009

We arrived at BlueLghtning & GypsyAngel’s humble abode at around 9:30 in the evening.  Any later and we would be soaking wet because it had just started to rain.  We were super tired from riding all day, but we still managed to hang out with our hosts and get to know one another.  There was a nice foreshadowing moment when BlueLghting talked about his journey into Alaska…dang does it ever feel so far from where we are!  I can’t wait to get there and look back at how far we’ve come.
Casa BlueLghtning & GypsyAngel
The stable...good thing we got a back-up bike if one breaks down...I wish.
Later on that evening as I was updating the ride report, I just so happen to catch a virus.  S.O.B!  I spent most of the night trying to fix it to no avail.  Eventually BlueLghtning recommended to reboot the system and transfer important files onto his hard drive and then upload it back on once the problem is erased.  Phew!  Thought it was gone for good.
Everyone trying to lend a hand
Staying at the house gave us a chance to recharge and do a little bike maintenance
Amanda and I helping out with dinner.  Our contribution: A big bowl of fruit salad!
Amanda found this drop-down ladder to the attic very cool
It is very rare to have both husband and wife share the same passion for adventure riding.  One day, both BlueLghtning & GypsyAngel will ride the TAT (Trans American Trail).  They definitely have the know-how and skill to do it.  Hopefully one day both Amanda and I will too.  BlueLghtning & GypsyAngel’s help has drastically changed the way we ride.
The riding couple.
Please don’t die on me laptop!
Christmas already?

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

November 29th - December 1st, 2009

Another brisk sunny morning; perfect for riding if you’re prepared for it.  We were headed straight for Asheville, North Carolina to find Wi-Fi and figure out where to camp for the night.  The day was relatively early as we arrived at Ashville.  There was hardly anybody around other than the few stragglers making their way home after a hard night of partying the night before.  Got a weird vibe coming back to city life after spending so much time in the bush; maybe it was just Ashville.  Word on the street Asheville was a hippie town; a haven for deadheads and wannabe musicians alike.  Should be interesting.  We walked into a bookstore and asked around where we could find a place that had Wi-Fi.  We were directed to a place called Izzy’s Coffee Den, but before we made our way over there, we soaked up some of the culture and history of Asheville by looking at a bulletin board filled with pictures of the town throughout the years. 
Izzy's Coffee Den.  Wi-Fi for the price of a bottle of orange juice.
Amanda mingling with the locals while I gathered intel on where to camp
We found our way back on the Blue Ridge Parkway only to find out that it was closed due to rock slides
We picked Horse Cove to camp because it was close to The Dragon; we figure we get there by nightfall, camp for the night, and then ride The Dragon first thing in the morning…

…it rained the next day, so we stayed an extra day for it to pass.

Amanda kept herself busy when she heard something in the rest room nearby.  It was closed for the season so she figured it was an animal trapped inside.  When a park ranger came by, Amanda flagged him over to investigate.  I was busy cooking lunch so I didn’t get a chance to partake in all the excitement.  It ended up being a couple of mice trying to find refuge before winter hit.  Unfortunately there was a bunch of them drowned in a toilet. 

The next day the weather cleared, which means we got some dragon slaying to do.  The footprint we left behind.

We thought this was the dam where the movie "The Fugitive" was filmed... wasn't.  It was more like this...The Cheoah Dam
When we arrived at Deals Gap, we were expecting the place to be jam packed; it was empty.  We met a worker who was closing shop for the season and he told us about the road known as The Tail of the Dragon.  We discovered that 5 people had died on this road this year.  3 per year is the average.  Not sure if we needed to know that.

The Tree of Shame
The Tail of the Dragon, also known as US route 129.  318 curves within 11 miles so they say; I lost count after 12.  The experience fell short only because we were riding at an average speed of about 35 mph; didn’t want to add 2 more to the annual statistic.  I can see how tempting it is for someone with the right machine to push the limits, but on a KLR?  “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”  Not to say we didn’t enjoy the dragon; I can only speak for myself, but I had this stupid ear-to-ear grin on my face the whole time.  Amanda on the other hand didn’t care much for the technicality of the road.  She was  just glad to make it out alive.  One thing’s for sure though, we both felt a notch up in riding experience.
Just before the end at the lookout, starting from Deals Gap

Got here just in time.  There were hardly any vehicles on the road.
After slaying the dragon, we stopped to grab a bite at a pizza buffet restaurant.  Then rode out on the Cherohala Skyway.

We were having so much fun we forgot the time of day.  We needed to get to Newnan, Georgia where BlueLightning & GypsyAngel graciously offered us a place to lay our heads.  We stopped over at Crystal Burgers on the outskirts of Atlanta to snag Wi-Fi and get in touch with BlueLightning.  It was dark already and making a lane change from one end to another on an 8-lane highway was a pain in the buttocks.

The Dragon is slain.
No offerings to Tree of Shame.
Riding skills are gained. 

Monday, 26 December 2011

November 26th-29th, 2009

Yesterday we arrived at R1100Rick’s late afternoon.  The GPS brought us to a gravel driveway that got steeper and steeper uphill as we rode on it.  It got to a point where I questioned whether we’re at the right place or not because it seemed to me it was some kind of service road in development because the road was in pretty rough shape.  As I was pondering whether we should proceed any further, Amanda in her usual flare zooms by us and decides to tackle the hill on her own.  I guess MikeBike4 and I will follow.  There were times when I felt my rear tire swerve here and there, but I knew if I just kept on the throttle, everything will be alright; and alright it was.  As we got to the top of the hill, the woods began to clear and the cabin was in view. 
R1100Rick's getaway.  Available for rent.  If interested, contact him via ADV website

R1100Rick was there to greet us at the door.  He gave us a tour around the place and showed us where we could pitch our tents.  The view was gorgeous.  We were on a hilltop overlooking various green hills around us; I just hope it doesn’t get too cold.

After setting up our tents, we went back to the cabin and got acquainted with the rest of R1100Rick’s family.  It was here when we were introduced to moonshine.  The best way for me to describe moonshine is this:  I took a whiff of the stuff and my eyes began to water.  Woooooooooooweeeeee!

For dessert, R1100Rick offered us a delicacy imported from Mexico; BBQ chicken flavored lollipops
The next morning was Thanksgiving.  R1100Rick invited us over to his father’s house to experience an American Thanksgiving dinner.  It was fantastic.

Amanda and I helping out with the mashed potatoes

There was food everywhere!  A table for dessert, a table for casseroles, and the main table was where the turkey sat.  We had a great time getting to know the family.

Relaxing in the hot tub while we watched the snow fall
The next morning R1100Rick took the three of us out for a ride.  We rode through some nice curvy roads; great practice for when we hit Deals Gap and The Tail of the Dragon.

Trying to master one of R1100Rick’s bike to no avail.  Sorry R1100Rick, she’s as good as new.

Later in the afternoon, MikeBike4, Amanda, and I went riding on some gravel roads that led up to some mountain.  I don’t remember the name of it, but there was snow as we approached the summit.  I managed to wipe out with the roads being slippery and all.  It was all in good fun.

If you look really carefully, you can see a tower on top of the hill...
...Amanda and I on that very same tower.
The view from up here was so gorgeous!
I thought we left winter behind us
Later on in the evening we hung out with 3 other Adv inmates: Cuttle and her husband, and b00t.  We had an awesome bbq and a great time.

A nice touch added to an oil drum
A little dose of cabin fever
The next morning was a bit chilly
Warming up by the fire.  Check out the chair, a nice touch by R1100Rick to make us feel at home.
Biscuits and gravy from scratch for breakfast.  R1100Rick's secret recipe.
Getting ready to hit the road once again
The Driveway of Death.  I hate to mention it, but I did lay my bike down as we were leaving.

May you rest in peace Rick

Keep on the throttle!
Turkey’s making me tired.
A sign of winter.