Georgia

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2021 by Pat Regan

Florida was a good time beyond my expectations, but it was time to move north.

I turned around when I saw this hovering over a small town. Gotta keep with the aerial theme when possible. When I was a kid, I had a toy that looked just like this helicopter. It shot little red missiles.

There were three places I wanted to visit in Georgia, then I saw that there was an old native mound as I approached Macon. So make it 4 things. The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park may be the furthest east that I have seen a mound built by the indigenous Mississippian people.

Below is a brief history of the area.

The office building for the National Park employees is a fine example of Art Deco architecture, which was unlike most NPS policies on building design. Here is more info: https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/ocmulgee-national-monument-visitor-center/

Looking to the left of the Art Deco building, you can see an earth lodge atop a hill in the distance.

After walking up the hill to see the earth lodge, I discovered it was locked. It was cool to see nonetheless. I had visited an earth lodge once at the location where Louis and Clark first encountered Sacajawea in North Dakota.

While I was looking around at an area beyond the lodge where a train cut right through this mound site, a golf cart with two men pulled up. One was a Park Ranger and the other seemed to be a contractor of some sort. The Park Ranger told me they were closed today but will reopen tomorrow. Then he paused and said, but you can come in.

He unlocked the door and I followed him into the main hall. The earth lodge itself is a rebuilt structure but the foundation is an actual footprint from the original archeological dig.

My next stop would be a nice follow up to the Lynyrd Skynyrd adventure. Macon, Georgia was home to the Allman Brothers.

The first stop in Macon, Georgia would be the resting place of the Allman Brothers, St. Rose Cemetery.

St. Rose is an old cemetery. As I winded around small roughly paved lanes, I passed this Confederate soldiers cemetery.

It was recently Confederate Memorial Day here in Macon and all the graves were decorated with small flags.

Another lumpy beaten curve brought me to a spot that overlooks the site of the brothers, reunited after decades.

To the right side of the plot lies Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, both who died in motorcycle crashes one year apart in 1971 and 1972. Greg lies alone in the center.

I was surprised to see another grave to the left. Here lies Butch Trucks, one of the two the drummers.

Nearly 4 years ago Greg joined his musical brothers and actual brother for the long ride. Roll on.

I climbed back up the hill to ride on to the former home of the Allman Brothers.

You enter off a busy street and through big open gates. When closed you can clearly see a big old mushroom and the verse, And the road goes on…FOREVER.

Inside the Big House are loads of memorabilia from the Allmans. That slide guitar below was bought by the Allmans from a young Ronnie Van Zant. Some of Jaimoe’s kit is placed about as well.

Below you can see a very young Duane and Greg with their band The Escorts.

This pool table used to live with Greg and Cher when they were together.

This acoustic guitar was played by Dickey Betts at some of the Beacon shows in NYC. He is shown in the small photo on the amp playing that guitar onstage at the Beacon. A friend of mine used to work with Warren Haynes’ wife Stephanie. She got us backstage passes to see the Brother’s at the Beacon. We actually got to sit on Butch Truck’s riser while they played. Incredible!

I first saw the Allman Brothers in 1981 at the Merriweather Post Pavillion in Maryland. 11 bucks (50 cents parking included), to see an awesome show! How things change!

This room was called the Casbah. It was the chillout room in the house.

Below is Berry Oakley’s daughter’s dress from the Brothers and Sisters album.

Two of Duane’s old guitars hang encased in his old bedroom.

These were Duane’s shoes. I had shoes very similar to these when I was a kid.

It was in this kitchen area that Dickey Betts wrote Ramblin’ Man.

There was one last stop I had to make before continuing north. I traveled a good ways out of my way to visit Jonesboro, Georgia. It was at this location that Lynyrd Skynyrd had their photo taken for their debut album. And so completes the Lynyrd Skynyrd tour.

You can see some things have changed. Amazingly, I think that light blue flower pot beyond me is the very same one that Gary Rossington is sitting on below. Notice behind my feet, you can see the paint peeling exposing the original blue color as seen on the album cover.

I stayed the night in Braselton, GA. I did not stay in this awesome building below, but I did get a bed. Tomorrow it’s time to pitch the tent again.

Jacksonville

Posted in Uncategorized on May 11, 2021 by Pat Regan

Happy Birthday to me. I left my dad’s place in Pompano Beach on my birthday. I headed north to go see my old friend Alex in Jacksonville. I have known Alex since I was 3 years old back in Maryland. The last time I visited Alex was in 2009. Back then we went crabbing. This time we had plans to go deep sea fishing.

I saw a couple of these towers on the way to Jacksonville. I assume they were some sort of communication towers from days gone by. Not sure really. Going north, I was traveling inland. I was tired of the crazy traffic and overpopulation on the coast.

As I approached Jacksonville, I passed a naval base. There was this Blue Angel jet at the entrance. The aerial theme keeps coming. This one is the F-14 Hornet, not a Super Hornet like the ones debuted at the air show.

Before I got to Jacksonville, my friend Marc asked me if I would visit Ronnie Van Zant’s grave. Holy Shit! Of course. Lynyrd Skynyrd is from Jacksonville. It would be 4 days before our reservation on the deep sea fishing boat. So I got to researching. 

I told Alex about the Skynyrd plans and he was game to check out everything. First we went to The Jug. This place plays a prominent role in the song “Gimme Three Steps”. “I was cutting the rug down in a place called the Jug with a girl named Linda Lou…” 

In the song the husband of Linda Lou burst in and Ronnie hollers, “Show me the back door.” Here it is Ronnie!

Strangely enough, outside that back door was the Grave Digger again. (If you are following, I saw the actual Grave Digger in North Carolina on my way south).

So of course we went to see Ronnie Van Zant’s grave. But that’s not all. Billy Powell, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s piano player is buried caddy corner from Ronnie. And directly across is Leon Wilkeson, their bass player. I’ve seen both Billy and Leon play live when Skynyrd first reunited with Ronnie’s little brother Johnny Van Zant singing lead.  I can remember when Johnny Van Zant’s first solo album came out. I immediately hoped that he would replace Ronnie and bring the boys back together. It took a while, but it was great! Even Ed King (original guitar player) returned.

He Played It Pretty is a reference to a live album Skynyrd made. Ronnie calls out before a piano solo during Freebird, “Play it pretty for Atlanta”.

Also in the same cemetery is the man that the band is named after. Lynyrd Skynyrd is named after the band’s high school gym teacher who they did not like, Leonard Skinner.

I was a huge Lynyrd Skynyrd fan as a teenager. I can remember the first time I heard them back in the 70’s. I mean, I heard them on the radio, but never listened to a whole album before. Me and my friend Jack were riding around on our bicycles in Pennsylvania with an old cassette player tied to the rack on the back of one of the bikes. We borrowed a tape from Jack’s dad. On one side was The Grateful Dead’s, Workingman’s Dead, and on the other side was Second Helping, Skynyrd’s second album. Jack’s dad introduced me to all kinds of amazing music when I was a kid.

Next we went to see the Van Zant home. 3 lead singers in one house! Amazing. Ronnie Van Zant, lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd tragically died in a plane crash. He was replaced later by his youngest brother Johnny. And Donnie Van Zant is the lead singer of the band, 38 Special. They all grew up in this house. And before that they lived right down the block in a house that is no more.

This is an old grocery store on the same street as the Van Zant house. Ronnie used to work here as a kid. The song “Ballad of Curtis Loew” goes, “ I used to wake the morning, before the rooster crow. Searching for soda bottles to get myself some dough. Going down to the corner, down to the country store. Cash ‘em in, give my money to a man named Curtis Loew.” Some say it was this grocery store that was referenced in the song. 

Others say it was a store a good mile away in the location of the Sunrise Food Store. True, the latter is on a corner, but I believe it was the previous store, where Ronnie worked as a kid.

Next we would try to find the location of the Hell House. The Hell House is where the band practiced day and night throughout their first three albums. Finding this location was tough. The Hell House is long gone. It is on property that is being developed for new housing. The developer has named streets in the band’s honor but it’s exact location is uncertain. It may have been in this area you see in the photo below.

What is known, is the nearby location of an old pier where the band would fish while taking breaks from practicing. Alex and I walked down to the river, and to the left we saw it. Yay! The location of the pier is now marked for new housing, so this may be the last possible opportunity to see this piece of Rock N Roll history. 

Our next stop would be the train trestle where the photo was taken for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s album, Nuthin’ Fancy.

And finally we went to a favorite stomping ground of not only Lynyrd Skynyrd, but members of Molly Hatchet as well, Whitey’s Fish Camp. Alex and I had lunch there. It was reasonably priced and delicious. I had some Ahi tacos, lightly seared and Alex had a Shrimp Poboy! Yummy!

The next day we would go fishing. We got up before sunrise to get ready for our deep sea fishing trip. It was a healthy drive to the boat’s location so we had to leave early. Once on board it was a long ride out. I learned from the air show that having a good sun hat is important. Alex’s neck would be able to testify to this fact later in the day.

Then the boat stopped and it was time to drop our lines. We were each given a bucket of bait consisting of squid and mackerel. I baited my hook dropped my line and immediately caught something. It was a little fish, maybe 5 inches long. The captain came over to me and said, “That’s bait!” He grabbed it, stuck a hook through it, and handed it back to me. I dropped my line and BAM! This time the tug was different. A LOT different. My rod was bending over. One of the guys from the boat came over. He told me to pull and wind. Just keep winding whenever there was slack. I placed the end of my rod under my belt for leverage. Whatever it was, was fighting and moving. It took me to the back of the boat and to the other side. Then I could see it. It was a shark! The boat guy said, “That’s an 8 footer!” Whoa! It was an impressive battle. I had him right up against the boat when the guy asked if I wanted a photo. I handed him my rod, grabbed my phone, and snap! He was gone. No photo. The shark had bent the hook and gotten away. The guy asked if I wanted the hook. I said, No, that’s OK. When I returned to my spot, one of the other fishermen told me he still has his bent hook hanging on his wall from the time he caught a shark. Really? Hmmm. So I went back to the garbage can and got my bent hook. I was wiped out. That fight took a lot out of me, but I baited my hook and kept fishing.

The fish were biting today. Alex caught a big red snapper. Unfortunately you are not allowed to keep red snapper.

I caught a red snapper as well and had to throw him back. Fortunately, you are allowed to keep vermillion snapper, and Alex and I caught 12 of those.

Someone else nabbed a shark later in the day. I got a picture of that one. For the record, mine was bigger.

As soon as we got back, we first pretended that we hadn’t caught anything. This was believable because, what I didn’t know until after the boat came in was that Alex hadn’t caught anything during his last 5 outings. Once we opened the cooler of fish, everyone was excited! Alex’s wife Isabella and her mom immediately got to cleaning those fish. Alex’s mother in law wants me to return so she can catch some fish too. Luck of the Irish!

Then we cooked ’em up and had a big fish dinner. Delicious!

The next day, I would say goodbye to Alex and his wife Isabella. It was a great visit. I wanted to beat an oncoming storm, but I couldn’t leave town without introducing Bonnie to the Jug. I rolled in for a photo op when this dude Adam throws the door open and says, “Nice bike!” You can see Adam in the door and Bonnie reflecting in the window. Adam looked a little like Rickey Medlocke who plays guitar for Skynyrd, (which I found amusing). In fact it was Ricky’s father who used to play blues outside the old grocery store, (another possible influence for Curtis Loew).

We talked for a bit and then he offered to buy me a beer. I was planning on making some miles and beating a storm, but how could I say no. Adam was a friendly guy who just spent the last 10 years in prison. He was looking forward to staying out. He kept saying he was psyched to do certain things like work and travel, now that he had his papers. I guess he meant his release papers.

We went into The Jug and had a beer. You wouldn’t know there was anyone in there because most people park in the back. I was surprised to find as many people as there were in there. I am talking about 5 people besides the bartender. Everyone was real friendly. After finishing my beer, I offered Adam a beer in return. He said sure, let’s go to Greybeard’s. It’s not far, follow me. Why the hell not! We went out the back door, which again was cool because of the lyrics for “Gimme Three Steps”, Ronnie Van Zant says, “Show me the back door!” Beyond the door was Adam’s Sportster. He hopped on and I followed him to Greybeard’s.

Adam knew everyone in the place including Greybeard himself. When Adam introduced me as the guy from New York, Greybeard looked at me and said, “New York? 95 is that way!” as he pointed East. I cracked up. I often get good humored abuse on the road for being from New York. We ordered a beer and went out back. A few of the other patrons including Greybeard joined us. We sat around talking shit for a while before I had to excuse myself. I went back inside on my way out and the bartender asked if I wanted another. I told her I had a lot of miles to ride. She said, “When you come back this way, don’t forget us!” Then she lifted her shirt and showed me her big ‘ol titties! I smiled, thanked her, and went on my way.

After Greybeard’s I took one last visit to Ronnie’s grave before heading north. The Skynyrd adventure will continue in Georgia…

Florida Keys

Posted in Uncategorized on May 10, 2021 by Pat Regan

I have always wanted to go to the southernmost point of the United States. I would assume any biker in the states who loves to ride makes this pilgrimage at some point. But until now, I only had July and August to travel any type of distance. It was way too hot to travel to other Florida in the Summer. Now I am retired and I can make my own schedule. It is time.

I called an old friend who I met up with in Miami a couple times over the years. He now lives just south of Key Largo. He told me I was welcome to crash at his place on my way down or on my way back. That was great because all campsites were booked and hotels were outrageously priced. So I left dad’s and headed south.

It is no fun riding in the Miami area. Actually from Palm Beach on down to the end of the mainland is treacherous. People drive a little crazy down here. I have had a few people change lanes without noticing that I am right next to them. They also don’t discriminate which lane to pass from. People will pass you on your left or right going over 100 mph weaving through traffic with reckless abandon.

But then the Interstate ends and it becomes Route 1 all the way down to Key West. Suddenly it is calm. The tenseness melts away in the hot sun with a cool breeze coming at you from the water on either side. The Atlantic Ocean to the left and the Gulf of Mexico to the right. It feels great!

I rode past Key Largo to my friend Eric’s home. Eric has a great place. It is a residential/commercial property, so he doesn’t really have many neighbors. At least not at night.

You wouldn’t know someone even lives here to look at it. I happened to recognize the old Volvo Eric was driving the last time I met up with him. I pulled alongside the Volvo and parked. No one seemed to be home, but then I noticed Eric walking down the street with a Cuban coffee in hand. 

In front of the house, behind the big white tent are two car lifts and a motorcycle lift that came with the place. In back Eric stores all kinds of stuff, including a 1973 Norton Commando. Nice!

It was already getting late when I arrived. Eric showed me around a little. And of course we had to check the sunset. That’s a big thing in the Keys. People like to check out the sunset each night.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming down here. My goal was to ride to Key West. Eric had to work the first couple days I was there, then he had some lady issues to take care of. The thing with the lady was either going to work out or it wasn’t. But either way, it wouldn’t be resolved for a couple days.

So the next day, I rolled on down to Key West. I stopped for a photo by this lobster. The lobsters down here are different than the ones we have up north. They have no claws, are brown in color, and as you can see from the photo they are much larger.

Eric recommended I have breakfast at the The Stuffed Pig. It was good. Then, after breakfast I hopped on the bike to see my spirit animal soaring above with breakfast of his own. I have talked to a few locals since. No one has seen a Bald Eagle in the Keys before. Hmmm.

I continued on down to Key West. My first stop was the end of Route 1. Route 1 holds a fond place in my heart. The old highway ran right through my college and we had plenty of good times there. 

Eric mentioned a couple places I should check out. Like the lighthouse. Unfortunately it was closed because of the Covid. 

Here is the Green Parrot, a historic bar in Key West.

Eric also recommended walking by the marina.

He said you can see large tarpon there. He wasn’t kidding. When the fishing boats return in the afternoon, not only do you see 7 foot tarpon, but you may see nurse sharks and manatee as well. I saw the giant tarpon as I watched a guy clean a mahi.

I have heard of 6 toe cats roaming around in Key West, but I didn’t see any. What I did see were roosters and chickens. All over Key West these suckers are cock a doodle doing about.

And finally I went to the buoy at the southernmost point of the United States. Eric told me to expect a line of people there, but I just rolled up with the bike and snapped a selfie. There was a lady in the photo to the right of the buoy, but I sent the photo to my dad and he sent in back sans lady. Thank dad.

All in all a good day in Key West. And to be honest I am not sure I would have wanted to stay. There were a lot of people down there but it is still not hopping as it normally does. I am told there are usually lots of bands playing, but for now just one or two piece bands are at the local bars.

Back at Key Largo however, they had full piece bands playing live music. What a treat. I hadn’t seen live music in such a long time. It was awesome! This is the Caribbean Club where the movie Key Largo was filmed with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

And if you walk to the place next door another band was playing. Excellent!

Eric is a good dude. He lives by his own rules. Right now he has been making handles for Yeti cups out of parachute cord. They are seemingly very popular down here. I watched people approach him at bars and ask about them. He would keep some in the car and make a sale moments later. Heck they are not only popular down in the Keys. People call for re-orders to give as gifts and he also sells them at the local Ace Hardware store. It’s a nice little business.

Between the vaccination that I have had since February and the way people behave down here, I sometimes forget about the virus. Eric’s mask however is a welcome reminder. He wraps a G-string around his head. It is hilarious when he walks into a restaurant. The variety of expressions are priceless…from the locals that are happy to see him, to the out of town families in shock, to the people laughing, trying to take a discreet photo. It is a riot!

After a couple days, I felt I should leave and let Eric take care of business with this chick. You never know how things are going to go when it comes to matters of the heart. While he was at a Flea Market selling his goods, I packed up. But when I stopped at the market to say goodbye, he said things weren’t working out and I should stay. He said we could borrow his uncle’s boat. So I rode back to his place and we headed over to his uncle’s place. Damn! I had no idea. This is the uncle’s place.

It was the first time I had been in an infinity pool. 

And then it was the first time I had been on a boat in the ocean. It was amazing! We cruised around. The water was choppy and cloudy. If it clears up then next day, we would go snorkeling.

There are a whole bunch of wrecked boats on the bay side.

Yes! We woke up early in the morning and the weather looked perfect. So we met Eric’s friend Chris and went out on the boat. Wow! I had never snorkeled in the ocean before. We went to a remote reef called hens and chickens. There were very few people there. I have to admit I was a bit nervous, but fuck it! Splash! I was in! And wow! It was beautiful. Fish of all colors were swimming around the reef. I even saw two different types blowfish and a few too many barracuda. But I stayed calm and enjoyed the aquatic adventure.

Chris had to get to work so we headed back in. On the way we passed the Sand Bar. This is a popular hangout for boaters.

And as soon as we made it back to the bay, the weather began to change. A storm was rolling in and the winds picked up. The water immediately changes with the weather as it again becomes choppy and cloudy. You can see the rain pouring down in the background as Eric hoses down the boat.

What a great fucking day!

The next day I headed back to Pompano. I stayed twice as long as I expected in the Keys and loved every minute of it!

The following day my dad and I went to Wakodahatchie Wetlands. It was nesting season and the birds were busy. Baby storks cried endlessly as we took photos.

There were many cute baby birds and some not so cute.

This one bird sitting on the pier was fearless. It was as if he wanted his photo taken, and I happily obliged.

I was fortunate to catch this mommy stretching her legs exposing her blue eggs beneath her.

The next day would be my birthday, so dad took me and his friend Ed to dinner. Ed had celebrated his 25th year sober the day before, so it was a mutual celebration.

Here is dad having a seat on Bonnie.

And then on my birthday I took off. I was headed north to see an old friend in Jacksonville. 

Pompano Beach, Florida

Posted in Uncategorized on May 5, 2021 by Pat Regan

After the airshow I headed south. Ultimately I would go to Key West, but first a stop to visit my dad in Pompano Beach. Dad lives in a community for older folks. The last time I visited, there was no pool. It had been bulldozed over and there were plans to make a new pool. Now the new pool was complete and I could lie out and get some sun so that my chest and shoulders could match my red neck and arms from standing out all day at the airshow.

There were actually 2 pools. One for lounging and one for doing laps. Very nice.

The grounds here are nice as well. The place is loaded with all kinds of cool trees , plants and critters. Many of the trees have orchids growing on them.

I don’t know what you call this type of plant, but the bees seemed to have a name for it … delicious!

Bananas, mangoes, avocado, and other trees were beginning to bear fruit.

Those critters I mentioned earlier consist of birds, lizards, and insects (pictured below). There are others like, racoons, possum, and feral cats.

Next stop the Florida Keys. I will return to Pompano again before heading north, but now it was time to dramatically lighten my gear and ride to the southernmost point in the continental United States.

Sun ‘n Fun Expo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2021 by Pat Regan

Here we go! I am a little behind in posting. This is going to be a huge post, overpacked with photos like my bike is overpacked with gear.

Welcome to the The SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo! I have never been to an airshow before and I’ve booked camping here at the Lakeland Leland Airport for the whole week.

I decided to get here a day early so that I could find a shady spot if possible. I may have been a day early, but many were here even earlier. I had checked the maps and looked at the location via satellite to try and get an idea of the layout before arriving. Turns out that didn’t matter. There were plenty of places to pitch a tent throughout the camping area and I got a nice spot between two Live Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. These trees and others provided shade for nearly the entire day.

Right away I met some nice people in the surrounding area. A couple, Tom and Dorothy were my immediate neighbors. They had moved to Florida a couple years ago, but had lived in Colorado for 40 something years before that. Throughout the week I met some great people.

The airport itself (where the festivities were), was a healthy walk, but they had trams pulled by tractors coming around throughout the day. I took a tram to see what was going on. I was blown away. There were tons of vendors of all sorts. Some were outdoors and some in giant hangars.

In one hangar was one of my favorite motorcycle painters, David Uhl. He doesn’t only paint motorcycles, but until now I had only seen him at Sturgis. During the Sturgis Rally he sets up in nearby Deadwood, SD. David paints all sorts of paintings with a vintage Americana feel to them. Obviously at this venue his paintings were more focused on flight. A few years back, David’s former associate Danial James gave me a bunch of cool Triumph T-shirts they had designed. Danial is a great painter too. It was great to see and talk to David for a bit. I am sure I will see him again in Deadwood this August.

After walking past a bunch of vendors outside, I got to an area where beautiful vintage planes were parked. Below is “Panchito” a B-25J. This baby flew 19 missions over Japan from December 1943 to October 1944. Flying above the B-25 you can see a C-17. I’ll talk more about that in a bit.

Panchito flew once while I was there, but I only saw her from afar as I was returning to the airport after getting a new bulb for my headlamp.

Below is “Placid Lassie”. This old C-47 is a real war hero and a veteran of D-day! When I arrived she was parked right next to “Panchito”. Placid Lassie was flying daily once the airshow began. Below you can see her after she landed from a flight. Even her engine had names.

And here she makes her way back to the parking area after the flight. Those white stripes (Invasion stripes) painted on the wings and fuselage were to reduce the chance of planes getting shot down by other allied forces during WWII.

There was a close call as Placid Lassie was making her approach to the runway one day. She was escorted by a golf cart at her side. For some reason this guy decided to stop his golf cart. You can see the driver below looking straight at me in the photo. He had stopped, but the C-47 hadn’t. That wing was inches away from clipping the cart when people started screaming! The driver hit the gas just in time to avoid tragedy. Look how close! Whew!

Here is Placid Lassie with some warbird escorts.

Below we see Thom Richard after landing his TP-40N Warhawk “American Dream”. Painted in the Flying Tiger style, it was a crowd favorite. And as you will see throughout the rest of this trip, I will be wearing a Flying Tiger cap.

Real-estate under the plane’s wings were a popular spot for many folks to escape the sun’s heat throughout the week.

Our modern military had a presence at the airshow as well. Below you see a proud pilot with his Black Hawk helicopter.

Here it is in the evening with the propellers tied down.

And another Black Hawk for a medical team.

There were also a couple Chinooks on display.

I took a seat in the co-pilots seat in one of the Chinooks. I do believe I look the part. It was awesome to be able to go into these machines and look around. The military personnel were happy to answer questions and talk about their equipment.

The C-17 that I mentioned earlier put on an impressive performance. For such a beast it is incredibly agile. That sucker can lift off using only a 1/4 of the runway. It can also quickly come to a stop and go into reverse for quick drop offs and escapes in hostile territory. You have to see in action to believe it.

There were a few P-51 Mustangs at the show. Here you see Mad Max, a survivor of WWII with its proud pilot.

Another P-51 was “Crazy Horse”. This 1945 beauty made daily flights during the show.

Below you can see the Class of 45. The P-51 and Corsair coming in for a landing at sunset.

There were all types of warbirds on display and in the sky.

These 4 blurry planes coming at you performed everyday. They were fun to watch, doing many loops with lots of smoke trails.

They were sponsored by Honda but I am not sure of the type of plane they are flying. Maybe Hellcats?

At the end of each show they would line up and do a spin out in a puff of smoke.

This glider had a jet on it!

The glider put on an impressive evening show.

They lit up some hot air balloons for the night show, but they stayed tethered to the ground.

Obviously this is not a Budweiser plane, although they have been known to take flight at enormous speeds.

This happy camper was cruising on a nice old Triumph Trophy

I know the rear looked like a ’56 Ford, but there is so much more to this guys ride.

Some would camp out in the fields with their planes.

There was live music here and there. Generally one or two-piece bands. These two were rocking some blues.

These WWI planes are tiny. I suppose they were to scale. I always thought they were bigger.

I took a little time off one morning to give Bonnie a long overdue bath.

You can see the Blue Angels beyond the P-51. They had their own hangers on the other side of the main railway.

Every night at the campsite they would blow up this screen with air and show flight related films.

The first time I tried to take a photo of this jeep with camper on top, I realized that I had left my camera back on a picnic table while I was putting my shoes back on. I ran back. The camera was gone, but someone left their phone number with a fire crew nearby. I called and got it back right away. Whew!

The seated guy below was a total douchebag. He aggressively controlled an ever changing line that he imagined between the two signs on either side of the exit runway. He was hollering at everybody even they were clearly behind the direction signs. You can see one of those signs directly in front of him. I had just taken a picture of the sign, which you can only do while behind it and they guy came up to me telling me I had to move back 3 inches. “Really? 3 inches”, I asked. He said yes! Later he threatened to tackle another guy who stepped over his imaginary line. My guess is he tried to be a cop and failed the psychological exam. Wrong man for the job!

Here is the helicopter from MASH 4077th.

Below is a long runway with airplanes from past to present. I will visit this runway again later with the bike.

The airport also has a museum and some permanent aircraft on display like this Lockheed XFV experimental prototype.

Many of the airshows were pretty much the same each day, but the sky would be different each time, making it very different visually.

These guys had a good gig riding around the show all day on their bikes.

The airshow was filled with high powered, high speed mechanical beasts. This little beast below looks mechanical with its seemingly armored plating, but it moves a lot slower. It was however the talk of the campsite as much as anything else as it had visited many tents throughout the week.

Then there was the F-22 Raptor. Holy shit!

I was grinning ear to ear when this baby flew. It is a phenomenal machine.

I hadn’t noticed until I looked at my photos that he opened the bomb doors on one his passes.

On one of the days the F-22 took a celebratory flight with a P-51. It is remarkable how much technology has been developed in a relatively short period of time.

Flying a Raptor is not taken lightly. There is a formal ceremony every time this magnificent machine lands.

The pilot disembarks and salutes both soldiers standing at attention before waving at the crowd.

Below is another crazy vehicle that was driving around the Expo. It’s a jet engine on wheels that would blow bubbles out it’s rear.

The Raptor was remarkable, but the real treat of this airshow was the Blue Angels.

This would be the debut of the Blue Angels new F-18 Super Hornets. It was the first full demonstration in front of a crowd since the team retired their older Hornets.

You have to see, hear, and feel these planes to truly appreciate them.

What these pilots do with the Super Hornets is truly unbelievable.

What can I say? Just look at them. Amazing!

Then one day a rumor started going around that the Thunderbirds were going to do a fly by. It was known that they were going to be doing a show in Cocoa Beach. And sure enough, soon after the Blue Angels landed their F-18s, those F-16 Fighting Falcons went soaring past. What a treat.

On my last evening at the airshow, I am sitting around talking to a good dude I met from Colorado. His name is Scott. As we spoke we realized we must have been feet if not inches away from each other one night at Sturgis over a decade ago. It was a night when a girl was run over by a pick up truck while asleep in her tent. A gruesome scene that we were both witness to. Anyway, Scott said he was going to check out if there was an evening airshow. I asked him if he thought it would be possible to ride my bike all the way up to those planes on the runway. He looked up and said YES! That was all the encouragement I needed, why not try.

There was a security checkpoint with a lady wearing a security jacket. I rode past waving with a smile, saying hi! She said hi and waved back, so I just kept going.

After a few twists and turns I was riding around on the runway with these amazing flying machines. Then I approached the Raptors. There was a black Suburban parked to the left of them, but no one was moving.

I was surprised that no one was yelling at me. I just rode around and posed the bike next to one incredible plane after another.

I rode right up the C-17. Look at the size of that thing!

I had to introduce Bonnie to my new friend the Chinook. After all, I did take a seat behind the stick.

And finally, as I was tucked behind this F-14, a cop circled around and didn’t notice me up on the bleachers taking this photo below. I hopped on Bonnie and headed back. I ended up riding past that same security checkpoint. This time there was an older man there who yelled, “Hey, you can’t be here!” I just waved again, said OK, and rode back to the campsite.

What a thrill!

Florida: Day 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2021 by Pat Regan

I guess I was too tired to finish writing about my day after I crossed the Florida line. There was more to that day.

I stopped for gas in the small town of Jasper, Florida. After chugging a Red Bull and pulling away from the gas station, I saw a sign that said ‘Old Jail’ with an arrow pointing toward the left. Naturally, I made the left turn. A few blocks down the road I saw an old brick building with a sign that said Hamilton County Historical Museum, Inc. OLD JAIL, National Registry of Historical Places, Built 1893.

I wasn’t sure what was going on when I saw a skeleton on the second floor. Then I saw some people moving about. I walked up to the door and said “Hi” to a guy walking past the door. “Is this place open?” He seemed hesitant at first as he turned to the lady in the other room. She seemed to give him a nod and then he happily greeted me and offered to show me around.

In the photo above you can see Chris as he tells me about the old jail. Unfortunately, There had been a break in a few months back and some of the historical artifacts were stolen. Chris has been renovating the jail. He renovates many old places and restores them. He is very passionate about preserving local history and historic buildings.

Chris also has a paranormal group. He was telling me that another paranormal group had spent the night at the museum the previous night. I asked what sorts of things they encountered. He told me they caught some EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon). That is when you ask a spirit a question while using a digital recorder and the spirits voice responds on the recorder. He told me that the spirits would tell their names when asked.

Chris showed me that the jail had separate cells segregated by race and by sex. Then there was a nicer cell upstairs for the drunks. The object below was not stolen. It is the first breathalyzer used in Hamilton County. I guess it determined who spent the night in the drunk tank.

Chris’s paranormal group does things to raise money for kids with cancer. It’s called Paranormal with a Purpose. His chapter is called Paranormal Kicks Cancer. He was a super nice guy. He offered me food and drink that was left from the night’s ghost adventure, but I had no room for anything more on my bike. You can check out more about Chris and his paranormal group at the following link. https://www.facebook.com/paranormalkickscancerLLC/?ref=br_rs

After he showed me around the jail, I asked about the building across the street. It was an old printing house. He told me it is abandoned with some old things still in it and I was welcome to go check it out. Nice! He said just be sure to walk on the wood where the beams were or I could break through.

There wasn’t a whole lot inside. Trays of old type, mostly spacers. There was an old piano, some farm equipment, and an optometrist sign.

It was cool to have permission to explore an abandoned building for a change.

Chris then told me there was another building around the corner. He didn’t know who owns it, but it had a bunch of cars in it that you could see through various cracks and spaces in the wall. So I checked that out too.

Sure enough, there were a bunch of cars inside. Chris thought no one had been there in years, but I saw evidence of recent movement. That shiny Corvette hadn’t been there too long.

From Jasper I headed south to Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala. Strangely enough, outside the car museum was an old Corsair 2 fighter jet.

It was after I took the shot of the plane that my point and shoot camera stopped working. This sucked because it had a much wider view than my big camera. So once inside the museum I was limited in the type of photos I could get. Maybe it was those darn ghosts from the jail.

Garlits Museum is tight, with cars right next to one another and everything is surrounded by leather ropes. More reason that a wide angle point and shoot camera really could have come in handy.

Besides the ropes there were many signs and trophies and knick knacks galore. The small camera could have gotten in and out of the obstructions much better. I was frustrated, but there was nothing I cold do for the time being.

There were actually two museums. One was for the drag racers and the other for classic vintage cars.

Things were tight and busy in this museum as well.

This car below was Fonzie’s car on Happy Days.

I can’t believe I forgot to include all this stuff in my last post. Sometimes the road makes you loopy. So this time, seriously…next stop will be the Lakeland Linder Airport in Lakeland, Florida. Home of the SUN ’n FUN Aerospace Expo.

South Carolina to Florida

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 19, 2021 by Pat Regan

There is something nice about a bed, even if it is at South of the Border. I loaded up Bonnie and was on my way. And I do mean loaded. I really packed too much shit, but it was time to move on.

South of the Border is just that. It is located just south of the border along I-95 between the Carolinas. Because this place is quite a bit inland, I would find a southbound diagonal route to get back toward the coast. I would head to Charleston, SC on some nice two lane highways.

This beautiful 1956 Pontiac was parked across from the Subway sandwich shop where I stopped for lunch off Route 41.

Along the way the fire department was setting some controlled fires to clear the brush from the forest floor. It was kind of weird and spooky.

I met up with good old Route 17 again to cross over into Charleston, SC.

At this point I knew I could make it to my destination the following day, so I looked into getting a room in Charleston. Once I looked I decided that it would not be feasible to get a room. The cheapest hotel was over $250 for one night. It was Saturday. If you are on the road, you will find out quickly that weekends can be a bitch. Hotels are more expensive, and on the East Coast campsites are all booked up. I looked up rooms in nearby Savannah, Georgia and it was even more expensive. What would I do?

Before I left for this trip, I discovered an amazing site called Bunk-a-Biker. As they describe it, Bunk-a-Biker is a worldwide community of motorcycle riders who voluntarily provide accommodations to traveling bikers. It’s incredible! They have a wonderful interactive map, where people offering accommodations can leave a pin. These pins are color coded to let you know if they are offering a room, a place to pitch a tent, or both. Look at all those pins!

I found a pin indicating that I could pitch a tent at a location right between Charleston and Savannah. Unbelievable! I called the guy up, and he said, Sure! C’mon over! How amazingly fortuitous. A nice guy named Darrell said he’d be happy to meet me at the local Dollar Store and take me to his location. I grabbed some food for the evening and headed over to the Dollar Store. Darrell met me and showed me the way. His pin on the map was designated for tent only, which was perfect for me. I have all the camping gear I needed and more. However, when we got to his home he told me that he and his wife would be happy to provide me with a room and a bed for the night. Wow!

Meet Darrell. He was super nice and easy to talk to. Good company!

He even offered me a cover to keep the morning dew off of Bonnie and apologized that it was orange and black knowing that I ride a Triumph. Then he warned me about his dog. He had two. One dog was a sweetheart old mutt. The other dog was a feisty Jack Russell Terrier named Sparky. He told me that Sparky could be a bit ornery. He said that Sparky would more than likely growl, bark, and snap at my ankles. He told me to stand my ground. If Sparky sensed fear he might bite, but about 80% of the time he would be fine once I gave him a cookie (dog biscuit). Then he said, ready? He opened the door and out came Sparky. That little fella walked right up to me without a sound, gave me a good sniff, and…nothing. Even Darrell seemed a bit puzzled. He just smiled, looked at me and said, I guess you’re a 10%er. We went inside and talked for a while about riding, traveling, history, and other various subjects until it was time for bed. Then he told me the next day was Sunday and he usually cooks up a big breakfast. And that he did! We had a nice breakfast. His wife joined us as well. When we went outside to take the cover off the bike, the weather looked like it might rain. Darrell said he would be happy to have me spend another night if I liked, but I had plans and it was time to head on down to Florida. Thank you Darrell! You are most kind.

I decided not to go into Savannah. Me and Bonnie had been there before. I like Savannah. It’s a beautiful old city, but I had miles to go before my destination, a place I would be staying for a number of days.

I pulled over a few times for a site or two, like the Midway Church built in 1792. Sherman’s calvary camped here in 1864. Darrell had told me about an old tree they called the Insurrection Tree, AKA the Succession Oak, that used to be in nearby Bluffton, SC. It was there in 1844 that many folks met to express their dismay at how they were being treated by the Northern States. This helped sparked the state’s decision to succeed from the Union. Unfortunately the historic 300 year old oak tree split in half and had to be removed just a couple months ago.

It was a nice day riding around on two-lanes highways that brought me to the Florida border.

The next stop will be my home for the next 6 days. I’ll be camping at the Lakeland Linder Airport in Lakeland, Florida. Home of the SUN ’n FUN Aerospace Expo. This should be exciting. I’ve never been to an air show. Oh boy!

Maryland to South Carolina

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2021 by Pat Regan

I packed it up and left Assateague Island. I was headed South, staying along the coast for now. I stopped in the small town of Newark, MD to reconfigure some things. I packed in a most unorganized way when I left Assateague and I needed to put on an extra jacket. It was chilly. When I stopped in a church parking lot to reorganize, an old fella across the street came out curious what I was up to. Nice guy. He told me a little about the town and that his house dates back to colonial times. This is the old train station turned museum in Newark. I guess it was once called Queponco. The man from the colonial house told me he had donated some things to the museum that he had found in his attic. It’s nice that a lot of towns preserve their old train stations. 

Strangely enough it got progressively colder as I went south. When I was crossing into Virginia I was freezing! I was looking forward to the tunnel for a reprieve from the cold, but the crossing is mostly a low bridge over a very windy channel of water with only two short dips of tunnel so ships can pass unobstructed.

As I was zipping along Route 168, I hit the brakes when I saw Grave Digger. I knew it was here from a time when I visited some friends in Nags Head many years ago.

The shop was closed but the trucks were still outside. They are huge.

This old pick up was on the way as well.

Eventually, I got to my destination for the evening. I was staying on the beach again. This time I was at Nags Head, NC. The campsite here was very different than Assateague. Campsites are right next to one another. A dad and his three kids were staying next to me. They were adventure types from New Paltz, NY. Cool people.

These guys across the way had a heavy duty trailer with a tent up top.

I could hear a helicopter, beyond the sand dunes. It was quite a hike to the ocean as compared to Assateague. Once I walked and climbed to the beach, I could see a Coast Guard helicopter hovering over the ocean. Water sprayed upward from the helicopter’s downdraft and a spotlight was directed toward a boat. I wasn’t sure if they were practicing maneuvers or if it was an actual rescue because it was kind of late.

Two of the kids next to me slept in the van, one on a hammock tied between the van and the grill, and the father had a small tent. They were having fun in the van all evening with lights on and music playing. I thought to myself, this could be a problem.

The next morning, my neighbors invited me to join them for breakfast. That was great! We had eggs, hash browns, and bacon. Yum! After breakfast, they packed up and were ready to head out on an adventure. We said our goodbyes and then I heard that all too familiar sound. Click. Click. That van was not starting. This was the problem I thought about the night before. I smiled and waved, gesturing to wait a minute. If you saw my post before this journey, then you know I have a new best friend. I pulled out my little battery charger and clips, hooked them up, and Vroom! They were on their way. It felt good to pay them back for their kindness.

I stopped at Bodie Lighthouse for a photo op. I didn’t go inside.

My final destination for the night was a place where I had always wanted to stay. South of the Border in South Carolina. But first I wanted to go a little out of my way north, to see the place where the Wright Brothers first successfully flew an airplane, Kitty Hawk.

There is not much to it really. There is a small museum with a replica of the Wright Brother’s plane and a hill in an area that is generally breezy. But this is where it took place and that’s a big deal.

After crossing back to the mainland, I took Route 279, a very lonely road. As I moved along, my gas light went on. I began to worry. I had no idea how long it would be before I found gas. There was nothing but endless gatherings of turtles basking in the sun on logs, and on the shoreline of a canal that ran alongside this desolate highway. There were a couple fishing villages, but no gas stations.

Eventually I got to a town with gas. The attendant said he never understood why they don’t put a sign at the beginning of the road to let people know there is no gas for 46 miles. So I wasn’t alone with that concern.

I passed many old towns along the way. I stopped to have a look at this old abandoned church.

I didn’t go inside but I stuck my camera through the window.

Amity Methodist Church dating back to 1851.

I took a wrong turn and ended up at a fishing village with lots of old boats, many seemingly waiting for salvage.

The town of Bath has some rich history. Blackbeard the pirate lived here.

There are numerous colonial era homes here in Bath, NC.

There was also a floating theater here in Bath. That floating theater turned out to be the inspiration for the novel Show Boat as you can read on the history marker.

I stopped a Burger King. I don’t normally eat Burger King, but I was hungry and there wasn’t much else around. I met this guy Brian at BK. He was riding an Indian Scout. I was curious about his windshield/flyscreen. He told me it was made by a place called Memphis Shades. You install the brackets and the the screen just clips on. I like it. I think it would look good on Bonnie.

It was a long ride to South of the Border. Longer than I anticipated. The sun went down before I got there. Much to my disappointment, I realized that my headlight wasn’t working. Fortunately, my bright light was still working. I got up close behind an 18 wheeler so I wouldn’t bother oncoming traffic with my brights, and made my way to South of the Border.

I don’t know what the appeal was coming here. It was actually out of the way. I always enjoyed stopping here to take a break on long road trips back in college and a few other times. Staying here however is different. Maybe I was too tired to enjoy it. The room wasn’t bad. It was nice to have a bed.

The Motel pool.

The novelty of South of the Border wears off quickly. At least they put up a neon sign letting people know that I was here. 

The food here sucks! And their security needs security. These security guys whip around in their cars at night like it was NASCAR. One douchebag almost hit me as he made a sharp left turn as he bottomed out on one of the steep entrances.

They have a campground there too, but I think it’s more for RV’s.

It was a long day. Goodnight from South of the Border.

On the Road Again : Assateague Island

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 12, 2021 by Pat Regan

Hey Folks! My Bonnie is back on the road. It’s been a long time since I have taken an extended journey. In the past, as a school teacher, I only had summertime to go on long journeys. And because it was summer I avoided Florida for the most part. Too hot! I also hadn’t ridden down the East Coast before. Now I am retired, got two jabs of Pfizer, and I am ready to go!

Taking off from NYC, I rode down the Garden State Parkway all the way to Cape May, NJ where I caught the ferry to Delaware.

Before getting on the ferry you have to go through a security check. A nice old security guy did my check. At first he said we were going to have to unzip all my bags. When he got a better look at what that would entail, he told me to just unzip the lower pouches and then said I was good. He directed me to the front of the line. There were many New Jersey State Troopers up front with a K-9 unit. They K-9 Started heading toward me first with a strange looking German Shepherd that aggressively approached in a catlike stalking position. It was intimidating. Then the old security guy drove up on his golf cart and waved them off saying he already checked me. Whew! I didn’t like how that canine-feline looked at me. Once the dog got a whiff of all the other vehicles, I was the first to board.

I saw a couple dolphins from afar on the Jersey side.

Then it was a nice easy trip across the Delaware Bay.

I stopped for a minute in Lewes where the ferry lets you out on the Delaware side.

When I saw this airplane at go-cart track in Rehoboth I figured I would take a photo. As you will see, airplanes will become a theme on this journey.

I passed through Ocean City, MD on the way to my final destination for the evening.

I had to stop for gas and saw this amazing Shelby GT500 in the garage. The kid at the pump said it had been towed there the night before. I was hoping to take more photos of it from the front, but the mechanic wouldn’t allow anyone in the bay. Oh well.

Next stop Assateague Island. Home of the wild horses. Local legend says that the horses are descendants of horses that survived a shipwreck on the coast, but they are more likely the descendants of domestic horses from long ago when ranchers had them on unfenced land.

For the next two nights I would be camping on the beach, a few hundred feet away from the ocean.

My site was secluded between some dunes unlike many of the sites that were next to one another. I had done a little Google satellite research beforehand to spot the site.

Assateague National Seashore is part of the National Parks Service, so I bought an annual pass. I plan on doing a lot of riding this year.

The horses can be aggressive. They will pillage a campsite for food like raccoons. And they have been known to bite and kick people who get too close. 

The salty diet of saltmarsh grasses has stunted the horses growth making them look more like ponies.

This guy below had just finished his journey across the road toward the swamp on the other side, but not before I got to bother him a bit for a photo op.

The horses move freely about, gathering in different places throughout the day.

Their salty diet also makes the horses look bloated, but there was talk amongst some people and a Park Ranger that this one below may be pregnant.

Near my campsite I spotted this red-winged blackbird. He was calling out as he puffed his chest and exposed the bright colors on his wings. Amazingly, unlike the turtle, he wasn’t at all bothered by my presence.

That evening 3 young teenagers pitched a tent at the nearest spot to mine. They asked if they could borrow my hatchet.

Later that night one of those teenage kids came back to ask if I could help them get their fire going. I did. I felt bad for them knowing how cold it got the night before.

It was a great feeling being on the road again, camping out, and staring up at a star filled night. I highly recommend staying at Assateague National Seashore.

My New Best Friend

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2021 by Pat Regan

After not riding for a while I couldn’t even get a click from my battery. This little gadget helped start the bike twice today.

See that light shining! The EPS K24 Portable jumpstart pack. Amazing! It will charge phones too!

I have had issues with the battery on numerous occasions since I started riding. There have been times on the road where I have just kept the bike running as I look about for fear of not being able to get her started again. Most of my battery issues have been a result of cold weather and neglect. And yes, I have been known to leave the light on a time or two. Duh! In the past, I have gotten assistance from straight-up jumpstarts or using a similar device the size of a briefcase to get my bike started.

Now my days of pleading for help, push-starts, and clutch popping are over. This thing packs small in the bag but packs the punch needed to zap that battery and get rolling again. Hopefully, I won’t have to use it but I appreciate the added sense of security it will provide on those lonely roads.

There are numerous devices like the EPS K24 on the market. I only know this one. And I like it!