Woke this morning relaxed and ready to rock and roll!!! waitaminute… we’re going to be chilling here for the day! This morning I remapped the GPS with new coordinates to include the birthplace of Elvis Presley a small town called Tupelo Mississippi. It’s in a direct path from Montgomery Alabama which is the city we will be staying the night before.
Today my sister came by the hotel and picked us up for some lunch at one of my favorite places to eat in Orlando called Pollo Tropical. It’s one of those chicken grill joints the one that got me hooked on Tres Leches a desert we had started eating here a few years ago.
After lunch we headed to the local Orlando Harley Dealership to get a new 2012 Roadglide, okay… just kidding. We went to buy ride pins and t-shirts.
Once back at the hotel I took a power nap as we made plans to have dinner with Judi and Nick and a nearby restaurant on the I-Drive. Lorraine and I have never eaten at this restaurant before and we ended up ordering the same dish, salmon with pecan nuts and of course rice! We had great food and conversations, good times.
My Sis and I at the Embassy Suites, Orlando FL.
We left Panama City FL this morning sort of late. It was already humid and hot when we left the flea ridden hotel. Our destination for today is Orlando Florida! One thing about riding the major highways you miss out in some excellent riding roads. This is the reason why I purposely missed a major turn on my GPS and ended up in some hickville country roads. As it turned out, this was one of those great mistakes. The roads we ended up riding were huge sweeping curves filled with rolling dips on the straight shots. One thing I noticed is the maximum speed is posted on the roads but suggested maximum speed is not. This means you can come to curve hot and have to counter aggressively or find it’s a long sweeping bend as you make the turn, now that’s fun shit.
We seemed to be making more stops then usual either for gas, water or smokes. I think the humidity is a big factor when riding the Southern states. I can ride deserts with 110+ temps make it through fine as long as I’m keeping myself hydrated. The Southern states have a certain type of heat exhaustion that wears you down and causes you to sweat (lose water) more than you think you really are. Since you’re on the bike moving it’s evaporating before you realize you’ve been sweating for the past 30 miles.
That being said about the humid heat… as soon as we entered Orlando city limits we hit a thunderstorm that made me have to pull over and get the rain gear on Lorraine. Even though she didn’t want to stop I needed to make sure she was geared up to protect her from the rain and any other mishap due to the bad weather conditions. Once we pulled over to the side she put my jacket on and we headed for the next exit which was a gas station. Lorraine did a full upper gear change out so that her body was warm. It turned out the worse had passed through and the rain we rode through for the remainder of the trip was nothing compared to the winds and thunderstorm.
Note: if you’re heading towards a rainbow and still see the dark clouds ahead of you, pull over and get your rain gear on! Lesson learned.
Lorraine is still smiling after riding through the thunder storm!
I forgot about the toll roads in Orlando and after the 2nd time kept a couple bucks handy so I didn’t have to fish around for my wallet wearing rain gear. We rolled into the International Drive area to look for a place to stay for a couple of nights. This area is super congested due to Universal Studios theme park and other tourist attractions.
After cruising about 1.5 miles down the road I saw an Embassy Suite sign and pulled in. It turned out there was a room available and it was heck of inexpensive! We got a $400 per night room for only $109 each night! They even let us park the Goldwing under the entrance overhang to protect the bike from the weather and keep it safe.
New Orleans LA to Panama City FL – This morning we left the Hampton Inn on St. Charles Way New Orleans and headed for the open highways. Well… not quite, wifey wanted those “white powder balls” they sell at the Cafe Du Monde located in the french quarters. The parking was so bad I had to illegally park across the street and wait for Lorraine to get the goods. We couldn’t even eat them there and took off for another spot. I found the perfect shady section in front of a historical building. Unfortunately it was police station and a cop came out and told me to move or get a ticket. Moved on…
We finally headed out to our next destination stop for the day Pensacola Florida. As it turned out we got there fairly quick so decided to move past it and see how far we could go. I thought it would be nice to take the scenic Highway 78 route along Gulf side of the state, so did every person returning home from the fourth of July events held a day earlier. We literally crawled for miles on end due to all the lights and congestion in the beach cities like Santa Rosa.
After being caught in traffic for so long it was bound to start thundering and pouring rain. We had to pull off the road and park the bike under the overhang of a bank that went out of business. When the thunderstorm passed us over we drove again through the light rain.
Tonight we got lucky and unlucky. We found a hotel to spend the night after are first choice told me they booked the last room just minutes ago. They referred us to the Days Inn right across the street. So the good thing is we found a place to crash as we were both tired from the commuting style traffic on the coast. The bad thing this place was literally a flea infested dump!!!
Lorraine packed a mondo sized bag of Skittles to munch on for the trip, I’m very thankful for this since her gum popping drives me nuts when I’m driving. She lost 3/4 of the large baggy bag filled with Skittles. She definitely needs to replenish them.
Today we took the day off riding the sled. We got picked up by Mallory and Patrick at the hotel. Patrick had cooked up some breakfast and we weren’t going to miss it! Patrick made some toast, eggs and some mutant sized bacon strips we even had dessert afterwards. I’m not sure if that a Southern thing or what, I’m not complaining.
Today’s agenda was to go visit friends of Mal’s and Patricks on the West Bank and watch the fireworks over the French Quarters. For those who don’t know what the West Bank is, it’s the west side of the Mississippi River. (like I knew that before going there)
This is a group shot before the fireworks started minus Patrick since he’s the one taking the photo 🙂
We spent the day chillin’ and relaxing on the front porch catching up and having conversation with new friends. This was a great opportunity again to hear more about New Orleans and the surrounding areas. The host Darryl and Daphne were most gracious with their new home and allowing us to join them for their 4th of July home BBQ. I gotta say, Darryl had jokes! It’s no wonder why M/P enjoy their company so much.
After the firework celebration we headed back to the “other side” of New Orleans. I can’t remember what the proper way to say it is. We stopped by the local Mexican Grill right next door to the Hampton Inn for a late night bite and shared in conversation until the late hours, had to be near closing time.
The hardest part of leaving New Orleans is saying goodbye. This time it’s different, I’m leaving with a good feeling and a smile.
Shreveport LA to New Orleans LA – We took off from Shreveport early in the morning and headed towards New Orleans. The ride is mostly the through the plush green forest and swamp lands. Since there was a lot of cloud cover the temperature wasn’t too hot.
We arrived in NOLA approximately 3pm just in time to beat the crazy holiday traffic through Baton Rouge. The normal commuter traffic is bad but with the 4th of July holiday the roads are even more congested. The bridge photo below was taken in Baton Rouge LA.
We made it to New Orleans!!! I gotta say it’s seems unreal for us to have ridden this far and into a town we both love. For the next couple of days we are staying at the Hampton Inn located on St. Charles Street. This street is historical with all the beautiful mansions and still running cable car services. Thank you Mal, Mal for doing the research for us!
We let Mallory and Patrick know we arrived at the hotel. Lorraine had been texting Mal while riding on back of the Goldwing so she knew our whereabouts. After a quick check-in and clean up the kids came over and picked us up so we could check out their home. M/P backyard photo shot 🙂
One thing I have learned about the weather here in the Southern states is you can hear thunder, see lightning but that does not always mean you’ll have rain. That’s a way different from the weather back in Northern California. Also, the rain seems to come during the afternoon hours and does not last long. The photo below was taken from M/P backyard.
This was a major part of our journey to spend time in Mal and Patricks home. To first hand see the beautiful home they had created together. It’s another validation that New Orleans is where both of them belong. The decorations and thought they put into their place showed the pride of two young people in love at a city with so much history and romance.
It was most fitting that Patrick asked me for the my daughters hand in marriage right in his own backyard. I’ll admit this took me off guard even though the possibility was always there. I had always known that this would some day come and wasn’t certain how I would react. I can honestly say that I can give my blessing 100%. I consider myself attuned and being able to judge another mans character, especially when it comes to his intent. From day one Patrick has shown me he cares and loves Mallory the way she loves him. It is the reason from this day on I will consider him part of my family and treat him as a son.
After the great news we went to Frenchmen street to celebrate the great news and listened to the Treme jazz band. Yup, I had a shot of Jack Daniel’s.
Another early start for the today’s ride. We going to try and make it to Longview TX or blast through right to Shreveport LA. The morning ride out of Amarillo TX was typical dry country riding going through the plains using US-287. When I mapped out the route I originally thought it was a straight shot. I didn’t realize it went through these small towns and maximum speed was reduced from 70MPH down to 35MPH, this slowed us down quite a but on the other hand, we were able to check out these small towns a few days before the Fourth of July.
It rained lightly for a while off and on during the ride to Dallas and through that horribly congested city. If it wasn’t for my GPS mounted on the handlebars I would have gotten all twisted out of direction. Too many quick jumps using different highway entrances and exits.
The transition between leaving Texas and entering Luisiana was such a huge difference. As we neared the dividing border between the two states the landscape went from barren to plush greenery. I would have to say riding into Luisiana was one of the best riding yet.
Today’s total mileage was approximately 548 miles. It was probably more with the side roads we took exploring the areas we drove through. To give you an idea the distance of todays ride, think of driving from Stockton to San Diego the distance is the same but the road conditions completely different.
At Shreveport we stayed at at one of those business oriented hotel suites just within the city limits. It was the perfect setup for a traveler carrying a lot of gizmos that needed to be charged and internet connected. The location was in an area that only a few places to eat were walking distance from the hotel. We ate at this restaurant called the waffle house. On this particular evening the cook called in sick and so the waitresses were doing all the cooking. I really didn’t have a big appetite so I just ordered a chocolate pie. Lorraine ordered a rib-eye steak, hash browns with special toppings and a salad. The two watiress tried their best to serve and cook but unfortunatley the food wasn’t the best.
Flagstaff AZ to Amarillo TX – Today we woke up heck of early so we could have an early start. We made it out of the hotel by 6:30am which by our standards is nuts.
We left Flagstaff and hit the road towards New Mexico, target city Albuquerque. I took a bunch of videos on the way and will post some later. We have the classic footage of Lorraine and I not wearing our helmets and riding around.
The ride between Flagstaff and New Mexico was interesting it started to sprinkle and there were a few lightning flashes that lit the morning sky. I looked back to see Lorraine’s reaction and she was knocked out sleeping.
Lorraine took a photo of me clowning around this gas stop. They had these giant arrows poked into the ground.
I just realized we drove through the whole state of New Mexico as we are now in Amarillo Texas. We did get to eat at a BBQ joint in Albuquerque called “Rudy’s” I think I saw this place in what of the television traveling shows. Also cruised around old Albuquerque, I dropped Lorraine off so she could snap some photos of the local native indian dancers.
It seems the further we got from Flagstaff the more barren the landscape became. One thing about Flagstaff is has a lot of National Parks close by and plenty to see.
I’m going to update this later as I’m heck of tired. We rode approximately 630 miles. Damn!!!
Woke up at 6am this morning to get an early start. Our target city was flagstaff which is close to 500 miles away. As usual we take off for at least 100 miles before we stop for a bite. Today it was a lot further as we didn’t stop for lunch until we reached Kingman Arizona. We stopped by a hamburger joint on Route 66. We had eaten there before back in 2009 when we rode out to the Grand Canyon.
Next stop was Seligman AZ, another place we have gone to before. It’s almost like a must see if your passing through on I-40.
Well I had to get up early today head to work. I got off as soon as I possibly could but due to the delay in start time we’re not able to get as far as I initially mapped out. Tonight we’re in Bakersfield, CA. The traffic was so bad on Highway 99 we had to peel over to I-5. As we got closer to Bakersfield more road construction was on the way as the highway information signs let us know.
While stopped at a gas station I asked a traveler if he seen any traffic hold up going south. He mentioned that it was one lane and the line was super long. I decided to take highway 58 east to avoid the jam.
Rambling notes.. spoke with a truck driver for awhile about motorcycles. It turns out he has family in Colorado and said a third fire broke out and our alternate route through Denver on the way back may not be an option anymore. We’ll have to play it by ear on our return trip to the west.
It may not look like it but the Goldwing is packed to the brim! We are definitely going to have to mail back our dirty clothes and souvenirs along the way!
The first hotel stay of iRide. Not very much to say but it was close to an iHop restauraunt where we had a late dinner. One other comment about hotels, try to get a ground floor room with a door facing the parking lot. If you’re able to park your bike right in front of the room door that’s the ideal situation. I cover the bike with a half tarp rather then a full (takes up more room). You really need to strap it down as the wind will kick it up like a windsail and possibly blow it off and down the parking lot.
We’ll be getting up early tomorrow and make a long run to make up some time for the late start today.
Due to heavy work commitments I may have to postpone launch date 1 day. Rats!!!