Archive for July, 2011

From the Ari to the Zona

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2011 by Pat Regan

Arizona

Willcox

As is so often the case, I think I am going to make it further than I do on any given day. On this day I crossed the border into Arizona and made it as far as Willcox. I pulled over at a gas station and started talking to a guy in the parking lot about lodging. He told me I should check out the old part of town. He said he used to stay at a well kept inexpensive place called the Motel 8 when he was in town. At $30 a night, it was perfect!

I booked a room and headed out to eat. There is a BBQ joint housed inside and old train car in Willcox.

Before I went in for dinner I had to check out this amazing sunset. I only wish it could have lasted longer.

Then it was dinner time. I asked the waitress to take a photo while I pretended to check the menu.

After dinner, I didn’t have to cross the tracks. I just wanted to stare at the train as it passed.

The next day I was headed for Tombstone, AZ. On the way was this wicked cloud formation. I was not looking forward to another day of getting wet. Fortunately the road veered to the right before entering this monstrosity.

There were warnings of flash floods along the way and water on the road. I had my legs raised high as I crossed about 5 of these while headed south toward the Mexican border.

Douglas

Douglas is a town on the US Mexico border. I needed gas and wanted to see the border so I rolled on through.

In the time it took me to hop off and snap this shot, the border patrol was already zooming down the road toward me. There are border patrol all over the place in this part of the country. Lot of cops too. On many roads they even have Border Patrol check points where you have to stop and be scrutinized. On the other side of the wall below is Mexico.

Lowell

The guy I met at the Willcox gas station also told me I should check out Bisbee, AZ. On my way to Bisbee I stumbled across this little gem. If you blink you could miss it. I did not blink.

Bisbee

Bisbee was described to me as one of those old hippie towns and I guess that’s just what it is.

Tombstone

Tombstone Arizona. The place of legends. Tombstone is what I expected. A overly commercialized historic town. I checked it out and had a beer at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon.

The O.K. Corral. You had to pay to have a peak at the spot where they claim the McLaury’s and Billy Clanton were gunned down. I missed the reenactment so I passed on the fee. Besides it is questionable where the gunfight actually took place. There is speculation that it happened down the block.

I asked Doc Holliday and he concurred.

Tucson

In Tucson they have what is known as the old boneyard. It is a place on Davis–Monthan Air Force Base where old military aircraft go to rest. It is an incredible sight. Adjacent to the base is a museum. The museum then offers a guided tour through the Air Force Base.

F Who?

With Davis Air Force Base across the road you can see many planes still flying around doing maneuvers.

This was the first flag planted on Utah Beach at the invasion on D-Day.

Seeing all these old planes with rich history was riveting.

(insert rimshot here)

Then came the tour of the base. There are endless rows of planes, helicopters, and parts over the square miles on the base. CLICK HERE for a satellite view of the AFB.

After visiting the boneyard, I had hoped to see Casa Grande ruins. Unfortunately it had closed by the time I got there. Grrrrrrrr! So I pulled over to prepare myself for the ride into the blazing sun. Just as I was taking off to head west, my foot pedal snapped off. Not cool! Fortunately there was a Home Depot not far off and I could make a new one. I used the ball head from a tripod until I got to Home Depot. I think I did a pretty good job!

Yuma

The Yuma Territorial Prison. The infamous prison figured in many western movies still exists today. Though no longer a functioning prison it is kept as an historical site.

These prison issue digs look quite stylish and comfy.

This is the Dark Room. It is where the more unruly prisoners did some time. Most stayed in there for short spells. One guy stayed in there for 131 days. They say he was a model prisoner when he rejoined the population. I went inside and closed the door behind me. As I got a feel for the place I saw something. A shadow moving within. Was it the ghost of a former inmate. Had I seen an apparition?

I set my camera to use the flash and found out I was indeed not alone in the dark room.

New Mexico, from Caves to Cliff Dwellings!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27, 2011 by Pat Regan

Carlsbad

New Mexico! It is interesting how the scenery changes soon after crossing the border from Texas. The first place I landed was Carlsbad. In the morning I was going to see the cavern. On the way to the Carlsbad Cavern I saw evidence of one of the many fires that hit the state a few months back. Carlsbad Caverns had to be closed for a while until the fires were contained and extinguished.

I rode past miles of burnt desert flora.

Then I began my descent into the cave. Those are not bats in the photo. They are swallows. Bats do fly out of the cave in the evening. In fact, it is as a result of this that the cave was discovered. It has been said that a young man in the 1800’s was looking for his horse when he thought he saw smoke. When he went to investigate he discovered it was bats not smoke and he found the cave opening.

After descending 750 feet below the surface, the cave opens up to reveal a spectacular display of formations.

Roswell

I had to see what Roswell was like. It didn’t disappoint.

At the UFO Museum I met the owners of the BMWs parked next to me. Nice folks from Vegas.

This is supposedly a piece of the saucer that crashed in Roswell.

Lincoln

This was used to protect the original settlers of Lincoln.

This is the old Lincoln Courthouse. It is infamous for being the last place Billy the Kid escaped from.

White Sands National Monument

Another magnificent sight. Miles of white!

Fort Seldon

Fort Seldon was a US Army post built to protect westward settlers. General Douglas MacArthur lived there with his family at the age of 7. His father was post commander. It is amazing to think that this man began his life witnessing war delivered with bow and arrow and ended up being a general in a war that saw the the first atom bomb drop.

Lake Valley

Once the location of the greatest silver discovery in the US, Lake Valley is now an abandoned mining town.

Santa Rita

Mountains continue to disappear level by level at Santa Rita mine.

Fierro

Fierro is another abandoned mining town. There is however a community of people living around it.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

People of the Mogollon culture lived in these cliff dwellings from between 1275 and 1300 AD.

Outside of the Ranger Station was a hummingbird feeder.

It is one way in and out to the Gila Cliffs if you are traveling from Silver City. The road is 42 miles long. It is narrow and twisty with loose gravel scattered on the switchbacks as you wind your way through the mountains of the Gila National Forest. It is called The Trail of the Mountain Spirits.

After rolling along side to side through the forest it was a straight shot to the next set of mountains.

Lordsburg

The business road along Route 10 is lined with failed businesses.

When I saw the snake slithering across the road I got excited thinking it was a rattler. It wasn’t, but it was still cool!

Don’t Mess With Texas? Hey Texas! Don’t Mess With Me!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 24, 2011 by Pat Regan

Outside my hotel a sign says: “A crisis is a failure to contemplate.”

Well, in Texas I failed to contemplate a number of times. But I made the best of it!

Here’s a little soundtrack for this post from my favorite Charlie Daniels Album Nightrider.

Immediately after crossing the border into Texas I saw more pelicans than I did the entire time I was in the pelican state.

I hopped on another ferry which took me into Galveston.

Galveston

The coast here in Galveston was much more accommodating to the beach goer than the coast in Louisiana. But the water still looked kind of nasty to me.

I camped at Galveston Island State Park. In the two sites next to me was a Boy Scout troop. They treated me to dinner. Tacos. When it started raining at 3 in the morning, I could tell by the screams and giggles next door that these scouts were not living up to their motto. They were definitely not prepared.

Galveston was pretty much wiped out by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Very few damaged structures remain. Most of the homes along the beach are brand new.

There are a few interesting exceptions.

La Grange

I had to ride through La Grange, you know, because of ZZ Top!

This is the old county jail.

Austin

I was mad at myself for not seeing Eels when they played in NYC this past winter. While in New Orleans I saw them on the marquee at House of Blues to play 4 days after I left. I decided to check their tour dates and found out that their first show back in the States after a European tour was in Austin the day I arrived! Yippeeee! They played at an outdoor venue at Stubbs BBQ.

The show was fantastic! Eels played many songs from Hombre Lobo. They did a hardcore punk version of I Like Birds and a great cover of Hot Fun in the Summertime.

After the show I checked out the bar scene on 6th street. It’s pretty wild. This bar specialized in Beer Pong.

I spent the rest of my evening listening to more great music. This was a blues bar and that lady in the center could belt out some tunes!

 

The day I left Austin I looked death in the face and said, “Go fuck yourself!” On a 70 mph road 100 miles north of Austin, 3 deer charged out in tandem before me. The first one darted right in front of me. I missed it by inches as it passed. I could see the second one in my rear view mirror leaping over the back of the bike. And the third one right behind the second. It was amazing, surreal and frightening!

San Angelo

Frazzled by that harrowing event, I wearily made my way to San Angelo State Park to camp for the night. This is the boat ramp leading to what should be a lake. It’s all dried up!

Later that night I was chasing a porcupine in the dark and tripped over a cactus! Here is the porcupine. It’s tough to get a photo from this angle because the porcupine’s defense is to hit you with his rear so he tries to keep his back to you. Luckily they are slow so I kept trying to run ahead of him until I finally got the shot I wanted. In doing so I tripped over a cactus like the one below.

Those are some large needles. So my immediate thought when it went through my shoe was that there was another porcupine. In the background you can see the shelter were I hung my hammock and slept that night.

My friend Gid gave me a couple face masks to try out. They are designed for bicyclists and skiers to keep the sun from burning their face. I am happy to say they work at 75 mph too. The skull mask was a bit too large for my face, but the other one fit snug. Since my chin is already protected by whiskers it was perfect. Not only that, I wore it through a vicious storm and it protected my face from those stinging drops.

This sign is still here, but that arrow now points to a vacant lot.

The sign below wasn’t kidding. I tried to avoid this storm by heading north on route 18 out of Fort Stockton, but it caught me. At one point it was a complete whiteout but I kept plowing through. It was scary but invigorating. In fact I quite enjoyed it! The landscape was getting boring and the heat was killer, so the storm got me all pumped up!

Pecos

After conquering the mighty storm I found myself in Pecos, Texas.

This is a recreation of Judge Roy Bean’s Saloon where he would conduct trials. He called himself the Law West of the Pecos and he called the saloon The Jersey Lilly.

Orla

Orla is a forgotten little town between Pecos and the New Mexico border.

Fare ye well Texas. You tried me and I passed!

The Ragin’ Cajun

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21, 2011 by Pat Regan

Louisiana

Greetings from Louisiana. It has been a wet ride, but I have visited the place of my birth. New Orleans, Louisiana! I checked in, parked the bike and hit the streets. I am going to let the pictures do most of the talking.

The flaming fountain at Pat O’Briens.

Peeping in the window at Preservation Hall.

French Quarter Architecture

Canal Street.

At first I was attracted to just this broken window. Then I had a look at what was behind it. This is a very cool store called Roadkill 13. An excellent shop with friendly folks working there. If you are in New Orleans, check it out. Meanwhile visit their site.

When I walked out of the store I could here dixieland jazz blaring down the street. It was some type of French related celebration. It was 2 days after Bastille Day. Down here they take things slow.


Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street is an all night party. People let loose! There is live music and good time mayhem up and down the street.

Whether you look to the left or right, it is a party!

She is feeling the need for the bead! Folks throw beads off the balconies. They are especially generous if you show a little skin.

Lucky Dogs are found up and down the street. I don’t know why anyone would want a hot dog with all that delicious food in New Orleans.

I enjoyed some oysters and a Dixie beer at Acme Oyster House.

My Papa (the late husband of Nana, who you met in South Carolina) used to take me on the ferry when I was little. It was always exciting for me.

I hadn’t noticed until I downloaded my photos that the driver was giving me a big ‘ol smile.

One of the most popular sale items in New Orleans is the poncho. It rains a lot down here.

Cajun Country

Up on the northeast coast we are used to seeing our share of road kill. Generally we see raccoon, squirrels, chipmunks and the occasional household pet. But down here in cajun country it’s gators!

I camped out in a cajun swamp. It was the hottest, wettest night of my trip. But the spiders seem to like it.

I helped this fella across the road. He didn’t seem to appreciate it.

I was pulled over for the second time this trip just after saving the turtle. This time it was for being on private property. The cajun cop was friendly after he made sure I wasn’t a wanted man.

I rescued yet another turtle.

The effects of hurricanes could be seen all along the coast.

Most of the damage could not be seen. Place were wiped off the face of the earth. Often times I’d see the landscaped yards with giant oak trees, but the house was gone.

Shrimp Boats.

The guy who took this picture was traveling cross country too. However he was doing it by freight train! Very cool! But he smelled very bad!

This part of the gulf shore is a far cry from the white sandy beaches you’ll find in Florida.

See ya later alligator!

From Tornadoes to Hurricanes

Posted in Uncategorized on July 16, 2011 by Pat Regan

South Carolina

After arriving at my aunt’s house in Pickens SC, I went for a ride. At a gas station a couple good ‘ol boys told me no one in South Carolina wear helmets. So I lost the lid and continued my ride. I was looking for a local waterfall.

It’s remarkable that this waterfall has no signs to get to it. And you won’t find it on a map. Unless that map was made by locals. They call it Twin Falls around here. And that is the name by which I called it when I had to ask a guy in car at a stop sign where it was. My uncle told me about this waterfall but I missed a turn. It’s also known as Eastatoee Falls and trust me, with this one it’s easy to get lost!

This is one determined tree. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

Bob’s is at a fork in the road off a mean, twisty highway.

Chillin’ on a bench swing at the corner of route 178 and 11. I had just walked into an unlocked unisex bathroom and it was occupied by a very startled lady. Just sayin’.

And here is me and my dear sweet Nana. She is turning 98 in September!

Georgia

I decided it would be best to stay north in the mountains to try and stay cool. I camped out at Cloudland Canyon State Park. Before getting there a lady told my to watch out for rattlesnakes. But when I got there the camp host told me not only to watch out for rattlesnakes and cottonmouth snakes, but watch out for….

….scorpions! I had never seen one before. He was hiding in my fire pit. So I played with him a bit before lighting my fire.

THERE IS FUNGUS AMONG US

Another fantastic thing about this scorpion yielding forest is the mushrooms. I have never seen such variety. There were mushrooms everywhere!

Then another first for me. I saw the after effects of a tornado. It is humbling to see the destruction left behind from this super power. These shots are actually of the second town I saw hit by tornadoes. A worker told me this happened in April. When I passed the first town, I guess I was too awestruck to take a picture. It didn’t even occur to me until I was miles away. At first I was disappointed that I had not snapped a shot. I was not expecting to find more.

Ave Maria Grotto. A Benedictine monk, Brother Joseph Zoettl build this place. It consists of 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world.

I came upon a third town I saw with tornado damage.

This is an old covered bridge. If you click the photo you can read it’s history.

It was hot, so a 50 cent Dr. Pepper hit the spot.

Alabama

I set up camp at a fine campsite in a national forest outside of Houston AL. Also in Houston is the oldest jail in Alabama. Notice the faint rainbow above the jail.

I was the only person staying at this campsite on a lake.

That night this crazy looking thing came crawling up to me. He reminded me of those party animal worms in Men in Black.

This the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies.

At the same location is a rock formation they called Indian Face.

This next town hit by a tornado was the worst of all that I saw. This pile of debris was a Wrangler factory.

Here is the path of the tornado. It snapped trees like twigs as it traveled down this ravine. Amongst the trees you can see pieces of the Wrangler factory spewed about.

Mississippi

I rode the Natchez trace Parkway starting at about 40 miles north of Tupelo to it’s end in Natchez.

Tupelo MS. Birthplace of Elvis Presley. Here is the home where he was born and raised.

And here is Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis bought his first guitar.

On the wall where I am pointing hung the 22 caliber rifle Elvis wanted for his birthday. His mom said no. Instead Elvis got a guitar that was in the very same glass case my elbow rests on.

These are indian mounds. No one is exactly sure why the natives build them. But there are many of them built by eastern tribes.

This is Windsor Ruins. Once a 23 room mansion. All that remains after a fire in 1890 are these Corinthian columns.

This home near Windsor has been consumed by vines.

Along the Natchez Trace Pkwy is a small cypress swamp.

In the swamp I saw turtles…

…and alligators

This is Emerald mound. It is the second largest indian mound in the United States.

I stuck my camera through the broken glass on the above right side window. This is what was inside.

And finally, the Mississippi River.

Natchez Mississippi.

This placed was closed. Too bad. I was looking forward to getting under her dress.

This is Rosemont Plantation, home of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy.

After a long ride through some thuderstorms I am in Hurricane country on a full moon. New Orleans Louisiana, the place of my birth. The only Hurricane I hope to see is served in a tall curved glass at Pat O’Briens on Bourbon Street.

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted in Uncategorized on July 10, 2011 by Pat Regan

I left my Dad’s house and headed for Skyline Drive.

Skyline Drive. It was so nice to be away from the hustle of the east coast. Riding for miles without seeing a soul.

I was wondering where I stayed the last time I road this way. I decided to stop at Loft Mountain and that answered my question. I stayed here before. It was 7:10 when I arrived and a couple at the registration told me I was too late to get firewood at the store. It closed at 7:00. I shrugged it off and found my site. Then I decided to try my luck. I rode to the store. Just as I dropped the kickstand and silenced the engine, I could hear the jingling keys as the store was being locked. As the guy from the store was walking toward me I grinned and asked, “Any chance I could get some firewood?” He said, “Got cash?” Perfect. I set up camp and chilled in the hammock with a local vino.

That night as I was going to bed, I heard some rustling in the woods just outside my tent. Sticks were snapping under the weight of this creature. Then I heard the grunts. It was a bear. He was right outside, but I stayed in. I’d love to see a bear, but in the daylight. Nonetheless it was exciting. In the morning a more docile creature paid a visit to the camp.

I continued south. I stopped at Mabry Mill and stretched my legs a bit.

I stopped at a ranger station and was told of a bikers only campsite. I gave it a try. Willville Motorcycle Camp is a real nice place. It’s only 15 bucks a night (plus $2 more if you want a breakfast sandwich in the morning).

The campsite has the calming sounds babbling brook passing through it. But unfortunately as soon as I showed up and unzipped my bags a vicious thunderstorm hit soaking me and a lot of my gear. That night I hung out with all the other bikers around a big fire and exchanged stories from the road. In the morning I was walking along and almost stepped on this little guy.

Willville really is a fine place. I highly recommend it. It is just down the road from Meadows of Dan just of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In the morning I headed to Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Mt. Airy is the boyhood home of Andy Griffith. The Andy Griffith show was based on this town and the locals have taken it to heart.

Beyond the car you can see Snappy Lunch. It is famous for it’s pork chop sandwich. I got one with all the fixin’s and it only cost $3.50. A few doors down from Snappy’s is Floyd’s Barber Shop. It is a great old style Barber Shop with lots of photos and Mayberry memorabilia.

On the way back to the Parkway I saw some old cars rusting in the vines.

I rode through some heavy thunderstorms once I was back on the Blue Ridge. I got to use my new rain gloves and my hands stayed dry. What a difference that makes! In years past I tried dishwasher gloves and other rubber over gloves but they all sucked. It was getting late in the evening. I pulled over at an old mansion that said it had a visitor center.

They had just closed officially, but were still open to let people out. I tried to ask the lady inside the door for some info. At first she closed the door in my face and said “We’re closed!” Then when she saw I was still standing there she asked if I had a question. I asked if there was gas and a campsite nearby. She said “You can try Linville Falls.” I said “isn’t there something closer?” She snapped at me and said, “Julian Price is down he road, but it is the weekend so I am sure they are fully booked!” Everyone else I had encountered had been ‘out of their way’ nice and helpful, so she really threw me. I was wet and feeling desperate. I then rode to Julian Price campground to find out there was plenty of available sites. Grrrrr! I wish nasty people didn’t get to me, but they do. I set up camp and headed for a grocery store to get a steak. A rib eye cooked over an open flame is good in itself, but holding the rib and chewing the remains from it’s bone is primal delicious!

In the morning I was off for the last leg of the Parkway. There was some more rain, but not nearly as bad as the previous day.

The end of the Blue Ridge Parkway lets you out at the Cherokee Reservation.

I had serious thoughts about riding the Tail of the Dragon, but it was Saturday. I have been warned about the Dragon on the weekends. It is dangerous! Too many people and many of them inexperienced. This causes accidents. I stopped at a gas station and talked to a few bikers who had just come from the Dragon. They told me there had been 3 donations to the Tree of Shame already and one girl need to be medivac-ed out creating a two hour wait for all other riders. So I skipped it. I hopped on Route 28 south which is a hell of a ride too. At the beginning of the road is a sign that says “20 mile per hour curves for the next 40 miles.” I wasn’t ten minutes down the road when I passed emergency vehicles assisting a biker who missed one of those curves. From there it was smooth sailing around the many miles of twisty curves. There are a number of waterfalls along the way as well.

This waterfall you can ride under.

After a quick stop in Wallhalla SC to check my map, I was on my way to stay with family in Pickens.


I had a computer scare last night, but it seems to have fixed itself. It wasn’t taking a charge. This morning all is working just fine.

Cross Country 2011 Begins

Posted in Uncategorized on July 6, 2011 by Pat Regan

And so, the journey begins….Bye Bye NYC! Your palm trees just don’t compare. West coast here I come!

I’m off to a rocky start. Been sick for over a week. Still feeling it today, but it was time to go. I’ve got the traveling jones! I felt that staying home wasn’t doing me much good. Must be sleeping under TB Sheets. Gotta go. Gotta go! I wanted to leave July 4th, but I just wasn’t prepared. Still feeling unprepared, I left the following day. Last year on June 5th it was 105 degrees in NYC. This year it was a balmy 94. I always planned on stopping in Maryland the first night, but I had no defined route. Feeling ill the way I did, the thought of Interstate 95 just didn’t appeal to me. Besides it goes against my adventure’s policy to take interstates (unless necessary). I want to see the country. I want to see the little things that make this country great.

Unfortunately the only way out of NYC is a series of major overcrowded arteries. So I went due west on 78. Someone in the fast lane slammed their brakes causing a chain reaction of red lights coming at me like dominoes. I quickly looked over my right shoulder and crossed two lanes to safety. Unfortunately my new mirrors don’t provide the field of vision I had with my previous set, so I did not see the police car behind me until he was right on my tail. He did not see the two lane shift in the same light as me.  I got pulled over. This New Jersey State Trooper was not the chatty type either. He told me I was up on two violations for $160 each plus points. He asked if my license was clean. I said perfectly. He told me to sit on the bike until he returned. When he did, I was handed my very first ticket. However, he said since I was cooperative, he knocked off those charges to a lesser one and the fine would only be $49 with no points. Wheeew!

I rode on to Lancaster PA. I figured I’d see some Amish stuff there, but all I saw was on old city reflecting a depressed economy. So I moved on. I did have one site I absolutely wanted to see. I rode many miles beyond it before I realized I needed to turn around. A few more wrong turns and more backtracking followed, but I found it! The Shoe House!

Unfortunately it was closed since 4:00. But well worth the oddball vision nonetheless! From there I headed to my Dad’s house for the night. In the morning a storm was rolling in, so I am here waiting it out. I’ll be on my way south shortly.