Archive for July, 2009

Jacksonville to New Orleans

Posted in Uncategorized on July 17, 2009 by Pat Regan

I left Jacksonville and began my journey West. I decided to check out a bit of the Gulf Coast. It was a pain in the ass driving through beach towns, but what the heck. I had to see it.

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I passed the Shark museum on the way and posed with this Tiger Shark.

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That night I stayed at Big Lagoon State Park in Florida. It was basically a swamp. It was hot and muggy but had some interesting wildlife. I saw two cotttonmouth snakes. They are poisonous so that freaked me out a little. In the morning I saw this nest in a tree with 2 osprey.

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Then it was off to New Orleans. The town where I was born.

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I didn’t plan on staying in the city, but it turned out that my dad was in town. So, I stayed with him in the French Quarter. Actually the first night I stayed with my cousin across the river in Gretna, but I didn’t take any photos that night. I’ll hang with her again tomorrow and take some shots.

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I really wanted to ride up River Road and see some plantations, but a mean storm rolled in so I stayed in town. After the storm blew over I walked around and took some pictures.

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In the evening we ate at Acme Oyster House. I had some gumbo and a shrimp and oyster po-boy. There was a line to get in, but well worth the wait.

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More New Orleans to come.

Jacksonville Florida

Posted in Uncategorized on July 17, 2009 by Pat Regan

Today is an off day in the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong is in third place and the Alps are still ahead. He just may do it again. And so, I begin today’s post with a Happy Bastille Day to all!

Yesterday my friend Alex, his wife Isabelle and I headed to the beach to see the Space Shuttle launching. Below is me and Alex.

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Alex and Isabelle. They have been most gracious during my stay. I’ve had a great time. Gracias!

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While we were waiting, a man told us the launch had been cancelled. But I was glad to be at the beach. It’s not officially a coast to coast trip unless you go from one ocean to the other. Yes Pat, that’s the Atlantic.

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There was a party atmosphere around town. And it’s not a party without dancing girls!

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Followed by a colorful sunset.

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After that we headed home. Isabelle is from Cuba and she had some excellent Cuban Rum which she shared. Yum! The following day Alex took me to a spot in St. Augustine where he catches crabs. Here is Alex tying the bait to a string.

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I caught my first crab with a chicken leg and a string!

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There was lots of wildlife in the area. This guy hung out throughout the day. We would swipe our nets across the water and knock small minnows to the beach. This bird would wait anxiously to eat ’em up!

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There is a good reason this bird is hiding his face.

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What an ugly mug.

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Some dolphins did some fishing in the waters beyond us.

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Pretty Bird. Birdie Num Num!

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I spotted this sea turtle.

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And then a tortoise on land.

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And finally on the way home we stopped at the Spanish fortress in St. Augustine.

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Mmmmmm! Alex steamed those crabs with seasoned water and some Old Bay. Delicious!

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The seasoning of the Latin flavored newspaper place mats certainly added to the experience.

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Blue Ridge to Jacksonville

Posted in Uncategorized on July 12, 2009 by Pat Regan

Yesterday I traveled almost 500 miles on some tiny roads. I rode from 9am to 11pm. Long Day! I wanted to make it to Jacksonsville to see my oldest friend Alex. When I say oldest it’s not that Alex is old, it’s just that I have known him since I was 3 years old when my family moved from New Orleans to Maryland. He now lives in Florida. But first let’s back up a couple days.
I had a nice ride down the Blue Ridge Parkway. Combined with Skyline Drive it’s over 500 miles without a traffic signal and very little traffic as you glide along mountain tops. Awesome! This is Mabry Mill along the way.

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Here is a typical view from an outlook along the Blue Ridge.

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I saw this beautiful animal fly across the road ahead of me. I immediately pulled over and caught him up in the trees.

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I stopped to camp just past Asheville NC.

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At the campsite I posed with my old friend Smokey. I used to visit Smokey at the National Zoo when I was a kid.

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The next morning it was time for the long haul to Florida. However, I was not taking the Interstate. I took Route 81 along the Savannah River. Along this route you pass many a forgotten old town. I stopped when I saw this curious little building.

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I’ve seen little buildings like this out west, but didn’t expect it in South Carolina. It turns out it is an old bank. Check out the safe inside.

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There were numerous old towns and abandoned buildings along the way.

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I got to Georgia and along with the heat I started seeing the Spanish moss hanging from the trees.

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It was so hot. I stopped at a Dairy Queen for an ice cream. As I was sitting there enjoying my cone a local feller came up to me and asked about the bike. He has an offroad bike and was thinking about getting a cruiser. I could tell he had more on his mind. He was filthy and he looked tired. Then he told me what his deal was. He was exhausted from having wrestled and killed two wild boar after trapping them. He told me about the box trap he made and how everyone told him he couldn’t do it. He called it his Elmer Fudd trap. He was convinced he could catch this boar. It had been snooping around the fence where he kept his domestic pigs. He was surprised however to find two boar in his trap. He strung them up by their necks and said they were amazingly calm when he took the razor to their throats.

I made a quick stop in Savannah. It was a crowded Saturday and I can’t just leave my bike and gear unattended to walk around so I rode around for a short while before flying down I95 to Jacksonville. It felt good to take the new ride over 100mph.

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Now I am Florida. Stay tuned.

Headed South

Posted in Uncategorized on July 9, 2009 by Pat Regan

So the journey began with a stop at Gettysburg. The site of the battlefield and Lincoln’s Address.

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Gettysburg is an interesting place. It’s loaded with Old Timey characters who display stars and bars somewhere on their person or in the form a sticker on their vehicle. They have a twinkle in their eye and Dixie playing over and over in their heads as they reminisce of days gone by.

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I didn’t spend too much time in Gettysburg as I was heading to see an old friend in Frederick MD. Meet my friend Dave from my college days.

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We went out in Frederick and behaved much like we did 20 years ago.

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And this cute little biker girl is Dave and Joi’s daughter, Noa.

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Heading South I made a quick stop at Harpers Ferry. It has changed quite a bit since I last visited. Less access for those prone to mischief. When I was younger I climbed that cliff in the background and got a ticket for my efforts.

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These days there is a fenced off path to walk across the old railroad bridge that crosses the river. No fun. In the tavern and throughout the town they have hired help to bring back the past.

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Another big difference is an expectation that you should park 2 miles away and pay 6 bucks to take a shuttle bus to the town. I don’t think so. I just rode into town and found a spot.

I planned on seeing some evidence of dinosaurs having roamed the planet on the trip, but I thought I would have to wait until Texas. Not so. Here they were in Virginia.

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I saw this little fella along Skyline Drive.

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And here is an overlook.

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Unfortunately as I approach the Blue Ridge Parkway today, the sky looks nothing like the photo above. It’s dark with patches of rain, but I must move on!

Cross Country 2009

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2009 by Pat Regan

I am leaving NYC today. Onward!

The Catskills

Posted in Uncategorized on July 3, 2009 by Pat Regan

I had to put on 600 miles for my first maintenance check before my Cross Country trip. I decided to head up to the Catskill mountains. It’s a nice easy drive up the Palisades then Route 9W before turning West into the Mountains. I had a few sites I wanted to see up there. The first Being Opus 40.

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Opus 40 is a magnificently landscaped property created by one man, Harvey Fite. It’s not easy to find, but well worth the visit. Being someone who enjoys carving a piece of stone I truly appreciated the work that went into this place.

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When I finally found the place there was a sign at the front of the driveway which read CLOSED. Undeterred I continued down the dirt driveway. A wooly looking dude approached me and said I could check it out but there was a $10 admission fee. I already knew that, I was just happy they accepted it and didn’t send me on my way. Another guy came out to greet me. He was a biker and want to know more about the Bonneville. We talked for a while. He had a great story about being knocked off his Harley by a passing owl. Broke his sternum and send him flying backward. He still has a big lump on his chest from that bird. While he was dealing with the cops after the accident a guy from the EPA showed up and wanted to fine the guy for having killed a bird of prey. The cop took the EPA guy aside and asked him to let this one slide which he did. I mentioned my plan to go cross country. The Wooley guy said he has plans to ride a horse cross country. Hmmm. So after talking with these guys a while I checked out the site.

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No one is really certain how Harvey got that monolith up there by himself. Some say he knew the secrets of the Ancient Egyptians.Opus40_04

All these stone meticulously cut and fitted is an extraordinary task for a team much less one man. Sadly in 1976 Harvey’s lawn mower got stuck in gear and hurled him off the ledge of his own creation killing him. The place remains open to the public and is maintained by members of his family.

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After Opus 40 I stumbled upon this place where a guy makes sculptures and furniture out of car parts

Roswell or Bust!

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And he had this cool green globe. His name is  Steve Heller.

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And I just can’t resist a podium.

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Below is me and Bonnie fully loaded. (OK, I am not loaded. That would be the next day at the Cheap Trick, Poison, Def Leppard show.) I got a new tank bag for the cross country trip. It’s a Bags Connection tank bag. Same brand as my rear bag which has held up well in extreme conditions. My old tank bag (pictured here) is just a bit too large. If I had to turn the handle bars all the way, either the horn or the ignition would be pressed. The horn is just annoying, but hitting the ignition switch while the bike is running is not good.

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I found a nice campsite next to a rolling brook that made for a restful sleep. The next day I went to visit this old grain silo which has been converted into the world’s largest kaleidoscope. It’s really cool. I was the only one in there at the time. It was recommended that I lay on the floor instead of using the inclined seating they have inside. The kaleidoscope show take you through a trippy history of the United States put to a well timed soundtrack.

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Here is piece of the show I grabbed from YouTube.

From the kaleidoscope I headed North toward Secret Cave. On the way I came across Pratt Rock. This guy Zadock Pratt hired a guy to carve into the side of this mountain.

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You have to appreciate that old school graffiti. Those brothers had style.

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And I guess the guy carved himself a niche to get out of the rain.

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And here is my favorite sculpture in the side of the cliff.

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The last scheduled stop on my trip was Secret Caverns

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It’s not the most spectacular cave for Stalactites and such but at the end of the cave is a 100 foot waterfall. The waterfall however is nearly impossible to photograph because the warm water from above mixes with the 50 degree temperature below creating a steamy atmosphere. Cameras get foggy quickly.

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From the cavern I headed home. Hit some ugly weather but endured. The only real issue came as it got dark. I had my half helmet and only dark goggles for eye protection. There were parts of Route 17 in NY that had no lines depicting the 3 lanes of traffic. Very scary! I will not make that mistake again.