2015 Post 20: AND IN CONCLUSION………….

Yesterday in a driving rain storm I pulled my 2009 Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe into my garage.  I had finished a 3,312.4 mile adventure since pulling out of the garage on July 17.  That averages out to about 207.03 miles a day.  I can’t say any one of those miles were bad ones.  Some were better than others but all of them were good to great.

I am so thankful for everyone that were so generous with their time to share of it with me.  I was truly humbled each time I saw another person.  Many of those people went out of their way to see me or to show me hospitality.  To think that I was going into a place to have a burger and being pretty sure that I was going to be spending that lunch alone.  I was all prepared to have a Coke and a burger and head back to the hotel to pack up.  Then in walks an Army bud that I was in Vietnam with.  He was followed by 6 more friends from my past.  That was so great.  But that is just a sample of what the entire 16 days were like……..

In this day of cell  phones it is almost NEVER that the hotel room phone rings.  Mine did.  I figured that either it was a mistake or they were evacuating the hotel due to the Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.  I answered it to hear the voice of a great old friend hoping to set up a time to get together….which we did.  I met with friends, neighbors, cousins, cousins of neighbors, BFFs, offspring, offspring of offspring, siblings, first cousins once removed, Hooter waitresses, all the brief conversations in gas stations, and more…….how great is all that.  I so often hear about how people are cold and distant. Not So Grasshopper!!  I do find that a lot of time you get what you give.  So give warmth and friendly you will receive warmth and friendly.

The weather was absolutely perfect 98% of the time.  With the exception of a bit of rain and one rather chilly morning Ma Nature was tremendously generous to me.  Overall I believe that it was the best overall weather I have ever had on any of my Florida to Michigan motorcycle runs.

My wife, Lisa, with Skype loaded into all our devices were able to talk face to face rather than just chat on the phone.  Even though I still missed her and wished that she was on the trip with me……it helped to do a face to face conversation with her most nights.

Then there was the blog.  I had been wanting to write a blog or do a report/journal of my trips for a long time but never was able to pull it off.  This year I started working on my blogging system three months prior to me leaving.  I kept a journal going during the whole trip.  Writing in the journal and typing out the blogs made me more aware of everything that was going on.  Many little events that would have normally just gotten lost in the shuffle of activity were lived and relived in my journal and blog.  I am not big on the “politically correct” society we have become so it is possible that I may have said some things not in the best way.  If in that process I offended anyone….it certainly wasn’t my intent…………..it was just an extra perk of the task.

I have no idea how many have bothered to read the blog nor do I know whether or not any of those readers actually enjoyed it.  It was a great deal for me.  It kept it all alive for me long after things happened.   For those of you who have read these few words of mine I sincerely hope that you enjoyed hearing about and maybe reliving my trip as much as I had living it and sharing it.

So, until next time……………Ride Safe…..Live Long and Prosper……and God Bless!

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2015 Post 19: AUGUST 1, 2015….DAY SIXTEEN

Like the proverb first spoken by Geoffrey Chaucer says “All good things must come to an end”….and so we come to the last day of this, the 2015 edition of Don Bova’s pilgrimage to Michigan.

I woke up at 6:20 this morning.  That is kind of late for me.  Well, it isn’t all that late BUT I told my cousin (actually she is my First Cousin Once Removed), Sherry, that I would meet her at the Waffle House at the exit off I-85 for Highway 129.  That is on Exit 137 and I was at Exit 149.  I know that 12 miles doesn’t sound like much but I had 40 minutes to get up, dressed, freshen myself, load the bike, WAKE UP, and ride 12 miles to meet Sherry.  You are probably thinking that I made it…..but, alas, I pulled up about 10 minutes late.  The little expressway sign that listed the Food places had the Waffle House logo with a little arrow pointing to the left……just the way that I saw it on Google Maps.  As I was about to turn onto Highway 129 I heard a little “meep, meep” and there was Sherry at the corner and pointing the other direction.  So I adapted and turned right instead of left and I saw ANOTHER Waffle House.  Now I was confused.  Crap…..I confuse myself pretty easily so I don’t need help from the Georgia highway people and from Waffle House.  I got off the bike and Sherry was out of the car and I said that I thought the arrow said to the left.  She said, “it is but there are TWO Waffle Houses on this exit.  I looked and sure enough there was the other Waffle House just a half mile up the road and across the street on the other side of the expressway.

We went in and ordered our breakfasts and chit chatted about riding.  Sherry has put about 8,000 miles on her bike in the past 10 months which is good for anyone and especially for a new rider.  I am happy and proud to say that I have shared in about 10% of those miles with her.  Of course we had to gossip.  The rule, as you must know, is that anyone not present is open game to be talked about.  Since we were the only two members of the family there……….we talked about EVERYONE!!!

Also in the restaurant were several bikers.  Their bikes lined a portion of the parking lot.  As they were leaving Sherry asked if they were from the area and told them about a charity run coming up.  As it turned out these were members of the local chapter of the Second Amendment Motorcycle Club and called their chapter the TSOGA (The Sons of Georgia).  They, along with other chapters in other states do community work as well as enjoy the fellowship of motorcycling.  Their website is http://www.2amc.org.  We chit chatted with them a bit and they were off to do their ride for the day.

Sherry and I went out and I said that I was going to top off the tank before leaving and she said that she needed gas also so we left Waffle House and met at the QT gas stop next door.  We both filled up and said our goodbyes.

And I was off!!!

As I went through Athens I was hit by the first REAL rain that I have had this whole trip.  It was a steady hard rain but it only lasted about 5 minutes.  I rode on to Madison, GA.  By the way…..(here is my Travel Channel imitation) if you have never been to Madison, GA it is quite the sight.  I don’t think that there is anything to do there (the only thing that I have ever done there is buy gas) BUT….the houses are phenomenal.  They survived the Sherman march through Georgia during the Civil War because business leaders in the city were allowed across the Federal lines and negotiated to not have Madison destroyed.  If you like the flare of the 19th Century Southern Look take Highway 441 through Madison, GA.  Or at least Google it and see what you are missing……..thus ends the Travel Channel segment.  I stopped in Madison for gas.  I decided that after getting slammed in Athens that I would go ahead and put on my rain gear.  Now let me tell you what that generally means.  It means that the chances of me getting hit with any rain drops to almost NIL.  True to nature I rode hundreds of miles through the center of Georgia in 95 degree heat wearing my rain gear which is better know as….. A SAUNA!!!!

My final stop in Georgia was a little town called Fargo just a few miles north of the Florida/Georgia line.  I filled up and pulled off to the side.  I went into the store and bought some water and some Gatorade.  I was sitting outside trying to find a cell signal  (which I NEVER found) and this guy and his wife (I’m assuming it was his wife) pulled up.  She went into the store and he proceeded to tell me that if I was heading south I was going to run into a “big’un”.  They no sooner left and another fellow pulls up from the south and he spoke with the heavy Southern Georgia accent……but I’m pretty sure that he told me that between there and Lake City, FL there was heavy rain.  Either that or the “lake sitting area had lots of trains”….but my guess was he was talking about rain.

I never did get a signal for my phone.  I was beginning to think that the town’s founder was Rod Sterling (if you are one of my younger readers you might have to look that up).  So I hopped on the scooter and pointed her south.  It was about 10 to 15 miles to the state line and as soon as I saw the “Welcome To Florida”….BAA-WHOOSH….down it came.  I could swear that I saw animals lined up two by two walking toward “something”.  That lasted for about 15 minutes.  Just long enough to reach I-10 at Lake City, FL.  I hopped on I-10 and headed east.  The rain had stopped.  It was still pretty cloudy but dry as a bone.  I pulled in the rest area…..I had to get “rid of” previously consumed Coke, water, and Gatorade to AND now that I was out of the Twilight Zone I could get a cell signal and I called Lisa.  I told her that I would be home, depending on weather and traffic, in about two or two and a half hours.

Back on I-10 and I was actually surprised at how light the traffic was.  That held true clean onto I-95.  Don’t get me wrong, I-95 was busy but not nearly as busy as I thought that it would be on a Saturday afternoon.  I was cruising along pretty good running right with the “normal” traffic which was about 85 MPH.  The abnormal groups were running somewhere near the speed of sound.  Ahhhhhh, the scent of being home was right at my fingertips.  I passed the little exit that is about 12 miles from my exit and my house is only 2 miles from there……FOURTEEN MILES!!!!  Woo-Hoo!!

Right about then I hit rain that made the last storm seem like a practice run.  My 85 MPH dropped to 60 MPH instantly and I motored the last 14 miles of my 16 day adventure in the POURING/TORRENTIAL/DRIVING rain.  It was amazing that 15 of my 16 days were free of rain and then I was rained on THREE times on the last day.  Once for 5 minutes of a nice and steady rain that wasn’t too bad. Then 10 minute blast that was only a little challenging.  Lastly it was 20 minutes of HARD….REALLY HARD rain that took me all the way to my driveway.

So I pulled into the waiting garage, dismounted my steed, shed the wet rain gear, unloaded the bike, went in the house, and reunited with Lisa, the dog, AND my recliner.

I’ll be back atcha one more time for a little review and commentary.

2015 Post 18: JULY 31, 2015…..DAY FIFTEEN!!!

As expected this morning of the final day of July was pretty slow.  Not as slow as the traffic was moving on I-85 yesterday….but life was slow.  I didn’t rush out of bed or hurry around getting ready.  I didn’t necessarily piddle around but at the same time I didn’t trip over myself rushing around.  I marveled at the room a bit.  Two hotels in a row I was staying in a better room than I had actually reserved……maybe being a member of something wasn’t so bad after all.  I’m not normally a joiner of very many things online or in stores.  I hardly EVER do the surveys that go along with almost every single receipt from every single store and restaurant.  I am that Mr.Skeptic that believes all I am doing is giving them the right to flood my inbox with a gazillion….give or take…..emails telling me what I NEED to spend my money on next…..AND that I had better hurry because it was for THAT DAY ONLY!!  Whether it is true or not I feel that EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY is just trying to squeeze something out of me…..sometimes legally and sometimes not.  Even with reviews…..I will fill out a review only in extremes.  If they are REALLY bad or if they are REALLY good I will fill out a review.  If they are lukewarm to pretty cool………no review from me.  This Comfort Inn and Suites in Commerce, GA…..just might get a review because they have been pretty darn good.

I meandered down to the lobby and their breakfast room.  I took my computer and pounded away at my blog and wrote a couple emails.  I was doing my best to look scholarly or maybe business like……..I probably accomplished not looking like either as I sat there wearing my black “Bike Week 2005” t-shirt from the Cabbage Patch in Samsula, FL.  I did my normal “breakfast people watching” and found myself intrigued by this older couple (imagine ME calling another couple…OLDER) who were watching Kelly and Michael on the lobby/breakfast TV.  They were laughing, commenting, and talking about the show like they were in their living room.  It was really quite comical and at the same time refreshing to see a couple that were so into being with each other they were oblivious to the rest of the room………………..still, it was comical.

I wasn’t really watching the TV.  I try to make it a goal of mine to go out of my way to NOT watch any TV while on a trip or vacation.  I was doing a fantastic job at that maintaining  that endeavor on this trip.  I never turned a set on myself and to the best of my memory (which is shoddy at best) the only TV I had watched was in the Choice Hotel’s breakfast rooms.  Even though I wasn’t watching I did hear the local weather and the gal said something like “another hot day with little chance of rain.  The high today will be about 93…….”  At that point I could hear all the moaning and groaning from the breakfast eating TV watchers.  Me, one the other hand, was silently cheering.  I have always been a supporter of Global Warming.  I was even going to vote for Al Gore because he invented it the same time he was inventing the Internet.  I didn’t move to Florida almost a quarter century ago for anything under 75 degrees……it happens of course but I don’t like it.  If it were up to me it would be 75-80 every night and 85 to 95 everyday with the only rain falling between 1:00 AM and 3:00 AM.  Even though I know that God sits up there and hangs on my every word……It is unlikely that we will see the weather I just described.   Besides, if it was ALWAYS like that the weather people would ALWAYS be correct and we can’t have that!!!  What kind of world would this be if we couldn’t count on the weather forecasters being WRONG!!

So while everyone else was moaning, groaning, whining, and saying how tired they were of this heat I was silently doing my happy dance for another near perfect motorcycle day.

That being said I did a quick run to the room and then out to the bike I went.  I again did the 12 mile run up 441 and pulled into my cousin’s driveway.  My cousin, Judy, came out and met me.  She walked around my bike ooo’ing and ahhh’ing.  She didn’t come out and look at it the previous night and this was the first time that she had seen this bike.  She has logged a few miles of her own over the years a long time ago.  It was mostly utility riding on a small bike to and from work but enough that she knows the thrill of riding.  She went into the “envy routine” and how she would like to do what I am doing although she says that these days it would more than likely have to be on a trike.

I really wouldn’t be surprised if she does it someday.  Both Judy and her husband, David, have been an inspiration to me for a long time.  We hear people talk about things that they would like to do but they get lost in the “real world” and it doesn’t happen.  David and Judy have made things happen that they wanted.  They are just a wee bit older than I am and Judy is still working full time at a hospital and the two of them keep busy raising chickens from chicks to full grown for the market.  They are working hard now and they have always worked hard.  David is one of those disgusting people that can do everything and everything he does he does well.  He will deny it but you can trust me………(and “you can trust me!!!” is exactly what I told my prom date).  While most people their age are trying their best to figure out ways to NOT do things David and Judy just keep staying as busy as ever…….and they feel and look great.  I think that I’ll be just like them…………yep, I’ll start tomorrow!!!

It wasn’t exactly an exciting afternoon in the context of wild and woolie tales.  The three of us stayed plopped down at their dining room table and talked the afternoon away.  The only little break in the action was Judy giving us all sandwiches and some of the best doggone homemade pickles you have ever had.  Then after explaining that I rarely, if ever, discuss politics and why I rarely discuss politics I proceeded to have a two hour political “discussion” with them.  You will be glad to know that after that 120 minute exchange…………not one of us changed our minds about ANYTHING.

Sometime during the 5 hour dining room table marathon I sent their daughter, Sherry, a text.  We were all going to dinner that night and I asked if she could pick me up at the hotel.  Sherry is a rider also and rides at every opportunity.  I have been fortunate enough to do two weekend rides with her.  I did know, however, that tonight she would be driving and since I had no clue where anything was I begged a ride.  She sent a text back saying she would be glad to so that was set.  She said that she would pick me up at the hotel at 6:00.  So at 5:00 I got out of the Obama, Clinton, Romney, Trump, Bush, Bush, Bush, Clinton, etc. discussion and headed back to the hotel to make me a little less bikerish looking and a little more touristish looking for dinner.

I went down to the lobby to wait for Sherry to pull up.  The little gal behind the desk was telling someone that they were expecting a full house that night.  Tomorrow was the first day of the Georgia Tax Free period for Back to School and the hotel was right next to a HUGE outlet center.  She that historically all the hotels are filled up for the sale weekend.  I, for one, would not see the outlet center………regardless of what kind of sale they were having.  While standing there looking out the door a couple came in…..probably in their 50s….and the woman asked me if that was my bike across the parking lot.  I told her that it was and she said that they had theirs on the trailer and were going up to the mountains of North Carolina……………..then I started to think (when that happens it is worthy of writing it down)……….here I was standing in the lobby of the hotel just looking out the window, dress in shorts and a polo shirt with tennis shoes on, and there was my bike a good 150 feet or so across the parking lot.  AND the parking lot was far from empty.  How the heck did she know to ask me if that was my bike?  They were checking in so I went up and asked her “How did you know to ask me if I was the owner of the bike?”  She smiled and said that her husbands stands just like that and will look out at his bike.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I wasn’t looking at the bike…..but I am still amazed that out of all the people around and there was only ONE motorcycle that she was able to know it was mine.  Spooky!!!  She can probably bend spoons too!

Sherry picked me up and we met up with her folks at the El Sombrero for a great Mexican dinner.  The talk was fun, the laughter was plentiful, and the food was fantastic………….and, according to Judy, the margaritas were supreme.  We strong armed a couple of guys to take our picture as we were leaving.

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We did an hour or so of even more chit chat back at David and Judy’s house.  I did an arrangement to meet Sherry for breakfast in the morning as I was leaving.  I kind of wanted to get out early so that I would have a better chance of beating the rain that has been pounding my area of Florida for the past few days.  So I told Sherry that IF she could meet me at 7:00 at the Waffle House I would ride to her exit and meet up with her. Much to my surprise……she agreed!!!  So she dropped me off and I headed right up to bed so that I would be able to be up and all packed early enough.

I had already talked with Lisa a little earlier before dinner so I bypassed everything to get to the pillow……with that said, I will meet y’all on DAY SIXTEEN!!!!

2015 Post 17: JULY 30, 2015……DAY FOURTEEN

A quick cup coffee, an orange juice, and a banana……and out I went.  I am guessing that sometime during the night there was a very little bit of rain.  There were droplets on the bike.  I have no issues with overnight rain…….I do hope that my rain free riding can continue for at least a couple more days.

I jumped on I-75 south a hair before sun-up.  It was light out but not fully…it was that grey pre-sunrise color.  The other weird thing were the clouds….I haven’t seen many clouds on this trip.  The clouds showed up this morning and they were there in earnest as I rode through the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee.  You know…..I am a good OLD person because I am one of those people that watch The History Channel and American Heroes Channel and Discovery and The Weather Channel and etc.  I have seen countless shows and documentaries on the construction of the Hoover Dam.  It is called an “engineering miracle” and I certainly agree with that assessment.  However, I think that I-75 through Southern Kentucky and Northern Tennessee is also a marvel.  Unlike I-77 through West Virginia or I-40 through the Smokies that winds around the mountains I-75 is relatively straight.  Huge chunks of hills and mountains were carved out making room for the concrete ribbon……AND they have widened it since its original 4 lanes to 6 lanes.  I really think that it is an amazing piece of road and it was an amazing feat making it a reality.

My first real contact with I-75 was back during 1967 in July.  A friend and I….a couple of 18 year olds….jumped in my car and drove to Florida.  In those days I-75 was somewhere between a third to half done.  Most of our driving through Kentucky and Tennessee was done on two lane roads twisting through the mountains and foothills.  Now the carved out “super”  highway through the mountains are grown over with grass and trees and looks like it has always been there.  It was so cool then and as I rode though today…..it is still cool.  To be honest I have only seen the Hoover Dam from an airplane so I probably shouldn’t compare the two things but when I started writing the first thing that came to mind was the Dam…….since my dad always talked about my “damn imagination” I am sticking with the damn dam comparison.

I stopped for gas about 40 miles north of Knoxville.  In pulls another bike.  I had finished filling my bike and was filling out my little log book on miles and progress and he walked over.  He asked what part of Florida I was from.  I told him Daytona and he was like “No kidding, me too”.  I asked him where he was headed and he said Michigan and I was like “No kidding, I just came from there”.  It was just funny…here were two guys riding alone both from the Daytona Beach area….one heading home from Michigan and one heading out to Michigan.  We exchanged mutual “ride safe” statements and he headed north and I aimed myself south.

As I rode through Chattanooga (I keep singing “Choo Choo”) the truck population picked up dramatically.  After crossing the Georgia State Line the number of trucks continued to increased.  I don’t know if all those trucks stop in Atlanta but it sure made the ride…..uh…let’s say..interesting. At one point I was so surrounded by trucks and was being pushed around so much that it almost felt like I was riding on a flat rear tire.  So much so that I pulled off at the next exit, gassed up, and checked my tires.  While I was stopped I sent a text to my sister, Alice, in Marietta, GA and told her that it was 11:50 and I should be at the Olive Garden near her within an hour depending on traffic.  We had already arranged to meet at the Olive Garden and I just wanted to narrow down my ETA.  She sent me a text back…….pay attention now because this is important later……saying they would be there waiting because it is only 15 minutes from their house.

Traffic was heavy but it was moving along pretty well.  I have always said that when you drive into Atlanta and you are going with traffic at 80 MPH….you WILL have to increase to 90 MPH as you get closer to the city.  So it wound up that I was at the Olive Garden about 10 minutes less than an hour.  So…I beat them there BUT since they were going to “be waiting for me” I assumed that they would be there in minutes….maybe SECONDS. NoooOOOooo…..A half hour later they came in…….because I was a sweaty mess with a backpack on I’m pretty sure that my waitress was thinking by then that I was a homeless guy trying to get some free iced tea.

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Alice and her husband, Norm, got there and we had a good Olive Garden lunch and a FANTASTIC Bova conversation.  It is amazing how in an hour people can cover so many topics.  It was so great to see them and share with them what’s going on in my life and listening to what is going on in theirs.  But, alas, it had to come to an end.  I started whining about the fact that I had to get back on I-75 and make the dreaded I-75 to I-285 to I-85 run.  Norm said that he wouldn’t do that in a car let alone on a bike!!  They told me to hop on I-575 to Highway 92 and take that across the north side of the Atlanta Metro Area to I-85.  There would be a few lights but the treacherous traveling of my proposed expressway ride would be a lot calmer.  I took their advice.  I don’t know if it was faster or shorter but it certainly HAD TO BE safer.

That still put me on I-85 but WAY further away from Atlanta than I would have been……and it was still packed……and it was packed for MILES.  I make it no secret that I like it hot.  I think that people around me get as tired of me saying how much I like the heat as I do of them complaining about the heat.   That being said….it can get a little rough being on a bike, in a jacket, with a helmet covering the head and ears, and wearing a backpack AND being in 95 degree, humid heat, while going 5-10 MPH for MILES on asphalt.  When I reached my destination exit at Commerce, GA it looked like I had been playing in the sprinklers.  I was soaked and the thing I wanted most at that minute was a bottle of water.  So when I checked in and the little girl behind the counter gave me some water and chips because I was a Gold Elite member…..woo hoo……I drank that whole bottle during the Floor 1 to Floor 3 elevator ride.

Once in the  room I sent a text to my cousin that lives nearby.  I got directions to their house.  I tried to bribe them into coming to me by telling them that I would buy them a chili dog at Sonic if they came to me.  That wasn’t happening so I sucked it up, took off my sopping wet shirt, and threw on a dry one.  I left my 3/4 helmet behind opting for my half helmet and no jacket.  I jumped on the bike and headed out the 12 miles to their house.

I had a super night of visiting with my cousin, Judy, and her husband, David.  My plan for tomorrow is to have a relaxing morning and coming back out and doing MORE visiting.  I suppose that if I tried to describe  my experience with Judy, David, and their kids it would be a book all by itself…….so you will have to be satisfied with it was a great night of talking.

I didn’t get back to my room until 10:30.  That was too late to Skype with Lisa.  I sent her a text earlier and told her it looked like we would be Skypeless.  I checked emails, Facebook, and the blog stats (believe it or not there are actually people reading this)….and it was time to turn off the light.

See you on DAY FIFTEEN!!!

2015 Post 16: JULY 29, 2015…..DAY THIRTEEN!!!!

OH NO!!!!  I am back to riding all day.  Do you know what that means??  That means I have to think of things to say.  When I started this blog some 15 posts ago my big fear was that I would get to the “riding” days and there would be nothing to talk about.  I have been told by some (mostly my wife) that I ALWAYS have something to talk about.  Still, there is that fear that all I will have to say is something like “I got up.  I got dressed. I rode my bike for 400 miles.  I ate.  I went to bed.  THE END!” Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet.  BUT the fear remains because I still have to write about 4 more days.

My plan was to get up at 3:30 AM and be on the bike by 4:00.  I didn’t quite make it. I was slacking because I didn’t start the bike until 4:20….I hope that doesn’t put my whole day out of whack.  It was a wee bit cool (read:colder than a witch’s ___)……now I want you to know that I almost hesitated in saying that. I took a lot of verbal abuse for buying that Bronner’s sweatshirt because I was FREEZING.  I tried to tell everyone that  were abusing me that I can man-up and walk around in a t-shirt when it is 55 degrees but at 80 MPH the story changes a little.  But, alas, my reputation of being a wuss in the cold precedes me and it is already set in stone so there is no saving me from any “fear of cold” abuse.  Oh the woes that I go through.  Anyway, it was a WEE bit chilly but not so much that I needed the sweatshirt…or so I thought!!!  I made myself man-up and I handled it.   I decided to take a little different route this time.  Since I was not going to get on the Ohio Turnpike I elected to run out on M-59 out of Waterford, hit U.S. 23 South into Ohio, and catch I-75.  I used to use that route years ago when I lived here but for some reason I stopped.  It was great.  In case I forget that next year I am counting on somebody to  remind me.

The other noteworthy item about the actual riding south along I-75 is that it is very apparent Ohio is making an attempt to COMPLETELY rebuild I-75 from border to border. There was construction that went for miles at a time.  I don’t know how many of those plastic traffic barrels Ohio owns but they must have thousands upon thousands of them strung out on I-75 alone.  The part that got me was one stretch had the barrels and only one lane open and there was NOTHING being done FOR MILES……maybe that is where they store the barrels!!!!  Thankfully traffic was very good and the weather was perfect.  The only bottleneck I hit was at an interchange in Dayton due to morning work traffic and had nothing to do with construction……and that was a very short jam.  So all and all it was a great ride.

On my  first gas stop in N. Baltimore, OH I pulled out my Selfie Stick to get a good shot of my “breakfast Twinkies” but…OH NO… my Selfie Stick was broken.  I guess that buying the $10 stick to save money wasn’t the smart thing to do after all.  On my next gas stop a guy came by admiring the bike and couldn’t believe that I had 60,000 miles on it.  He asked if it wasn’t garage kept.  I told him it was but not for very long at any one time.  I told him that that I did my best to keep it out of the garage as much as possible by RIDING IT.

The gas stops didn’t seem to fall where I wanted them on this leg of the trip.  I have actually been kind of spoiling myself and making stops at 80 and 90 miles for gas.  That is WAY sooner than I need to stop but the body likes stopping that often.  Not today……I ran 140-160 miles on a most of my runs and my one short one was still well over a hundred miles.  So when I got to Richmond, KY this afternoon, my stopping point, I only had 46 miles when I topped off the tank.  When I stopped in Georgetown, KY for gas a fellow came told me all about his wife never being on a bike when they met.  She would never ride with him.  AFTER they got married she eventually agreed to ride somewhere and now she would rather ride on the bike than go in the car if at all possible.  I know that I said it before but there is something about being on a motorcycle trip that just attracts people to come over and talk to you.  I love it.

So…..I got to Richmond, KY a lot sooner than I thought that I would.  Traffic was good and there was hardly a cloud in the sky all the time that I was riding.  So I pulled into the Comfort Inn & Suites at 1:00.  I knew that I was ahead of check-in time but I came in anyway.  I told them that I knew I was early but I was going to go get something to eat anyway so if they could just check me in it would be an hour or more before I would be back.  They said no problem.  A few years ago I signed up with Choice Hotels as a “member” because that was the only way I could get the CHEAP rates.  When a member stays at a hotel they earn “points” and as your points accumulate your “status level” changes.  Even though I use the CHEAP rates I still get points and as long as I keep earning points within their guidelines I don’t ever lose my points…..SO…..I am now a Gold Elite.  Is that special or what?  It’s not bad for only using the CHEAP rates and only when I do motorcycle rides.  Choice Hotels always sends little emails asking for my opinion every time I stay somewhere.  I usually only do the “survey” if it was exceptional or if there was an issue.  One question they ask is if I was recognized as an Elite member….and now as a Gold Elite member….and I have always said no.  I have never had it mentioned to me that I was a member.  These people at the Richmond, KY Comfort Inn & Suites did acknowledge it. First they gave me a card to go to their shop for a free something or other.  Then they said….you know, we have you in the room by the elevator. Let us switch you.  So they gave me a suite with  a Jacuzzi in the bedroom.  I won’t be using it….but I thought it was pretty cool and there was no change in my rate. I don’t get offered much so when it happens it is VERY exciting to me!!

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BUT WAIT…..THE FREE STUFF KEEPS ON COMING!!!!

I left the hotel……I hadn’t been to the room yet because I was going to eat so that when I did go to the room I wouldn’t have to come out again until morning.  If you read the post about me planning my routes you might recall the story about Hooter t-shirts.   On this trip I was only going to be going past one Hooters that I had never been before and that was Richmond, KY.  It is located only about a mile or so from the hotel.   I got there and I ordered my burger (yes Virginia…they DO have food at Hooters……it surprised me too!!) and then gave the girl, Jordyn, my spiel about getting the shirt signed by the girls.  She said they didn’t have any white shirts left.  But she saw my picture where I am posed with 50+ shirts and she listened to my pitch she perked up and said that she would be right back.  When she returned she had gotten me an actual waitress tank top (without the waitress inside!!!).  She had the girls sign it and draw pictures on it and whatever else they wanted to do to it……and when I got my bill there was no shirt listed.  Jordyn got a good tip.

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Life was good on DAY THIRTEEN.  I came back to the room (suite) and have enjoyed the luxury upgrade.  Now if I could just convince that Mega Millions guy to run the ping pong balls MY WAY!!!.

I ended the day with a nice Skyping with Lisa and I am now about to flop onto the king size bed overlooking the Jacuzzi.  See y’all  on DAY FOURTEEN!!

2015 Post 15: JULY 28, 2015….DAY TWELVE!!!

I awaken to my last full day in Michigan on this 2015 edition of Bova Goes To Michigan.  I left Michigan 31 years ago and I have tried to recall just how many times I have been back either by flying, driving, or riding……..I’m not sure how many there have been but it has been a lot.  And most have blessed me with great visits with friends and relatives.  These past couple weeks have been no exception.  One really neat serendipity of writing this blog is that it has made me pay attention to everything that has been happening.  There has probably not been any more or less adventures and good times on this trip than most of the others but I am forcing myself to be more aware.

I started my day getting cleaned up and grabbing the computer and heading for the breakfast in the Comfort Inn lobby.  Still being a wee bit behind in getting some blogs posted I set my sights on getting some serious typing in (and some not so serious).  While I was eating my eggs and sausage and at the same time banging away at the keyboard this fellow walked up to me and said something about being able to work and eat at the same time.  I told him that it wasn’t too bad but I do get confused sometimes and I will stick the mouse in my mouth and try to send something with my toast.  I went on to tell him that I have been practicing and on good days I can do it all AND chew gum.  With that I went back to Ctrl-Alt-Del my eggs.  The other thing was the old gal that was taking care of the breakfast room remembered me from last week and told me all she knew about motorcycling…..that didn’t take her long although she did tell me about the fellow that owned the McDonalds not too far away and how he sponsors Poker Runs and other motorcycle events to fund the Ronald McDonald House.  She said that he had quite the motorcycle related display in his McDonalds.  It is funny but there used to be a Big Boy next to that McDonalds that I have been to a million (give or take 5 or 6) times and in all my years living in Michigan and visiting Michigan I have never been inside that McDonalds.  Unfortunately because it is so late in my trip it wasn’t going to happen this year either.

After breakfast I just went riding around.  I rode through Pontiac’s Downtown….or what is left of it. When I was a kid I used to go to school just outside of Downtown and had to walk through it everyday to catch a city bus to take me to Waterford. Now I can’t imagine walking through there as an adult let alone a nine, ten or eleven year old kid.  I realize that was a long time ago but geez!!  I took a big loop around West Bloomfield and back down Telegraph Rd.  There is a HUGE complex there that looks like it was 60% built and then abandoned.  I don’t mean a few little buildings….this was HUGE.  I have no idea what it was or is or can be or or or……and I will more than likely forget to ask anyone.  So if someone (the key word there is “if”) reads this and knows what that is/was/can be send me a message or a post to tell me so I will be able to sleep at night again.

My last stop was to the Pontiac Lake Inn.  I figured that I would have one last burger there before I left.  I left a post on Facebook that I was going to be at the PLI but I didn’t think too much about it.  I just went in, sat at the bar, got me a Coke, and ordered a burger. I heard the door open and like all good Americans I turned to look….not for any particular reason but to be nosy.  But what to my wondering eyes did appear…….It was Kirk.  Kirk and I were in the same unit in Vietnam and we share some pretty significant events during the time that we were both there (we both put in a full 12 months in Vietnam and for 9 months we were there at the same time).  I was blown away that he walked in.  I grabbed my Coke and we went over to a table.  We were in the middle of going over some old and new times when I look up and in comes Jim…..and then Jan…and Rod….and Maria….and Bernie….and then Becky…………HOLY CONGREGATION BATMAN.  Here I thought that I was going to have a burger all alone and then slink back to my hotel….sigh!  It sure was a great way to cap off the Michigan stay.

After we all had a bite to eat I said my goodbyes to everyone as they, one by one, left the Pontiac Lake Inn.  I smiled myself all the way back to the hotel.  Once there I set myself to task.  I packed my bag and loaded the bike.  My plan is to leave at 4:00 AM so all I want everything set so all there will be to do in the morning is get up, get dressed,  get on the bike, and putt-putt out to the road.

There was the Skyping with Lisa  and at 8:00 I hit the sack………It was a great run this year but now it is time to head out.  That will be talked about on DAY THIRTEEN!!!

2015 Post 14: JULY 27, 2015…..DAY ELEVEN!!!

Today was another transition day with lots going on.  I may have to go on vacation to rest up from going on vacation.  I say that but the truth of the matter is that after the marathon session in the Pellston Lodge hot tub on Sunday I slept pretty darn good all night.

My first task was to call Lisa.  It is Monday and she, like most people (not including me), has to go to work.  I try to call her every morning to make sure that she is up.  If I didn’t call she would be up and all would be fine but it makes me feel important and needed to say that I have to wake her up.  The problem with that is there is no phone service to my cell phone in the room. I have learned from past experience in the Pellston Lodge and I know that to make a phone call from the room you have to go over, put the phone right up next to the window, stand with one foot touching the wall, and not moving a muscle throughout the phone call.  Since I had to get all dressed and ready to go before I could call from the parking lot I was…..well, I was late with my call and she was already up and showered.  I tried.

I finished getting myself ready and then headed for the lobby for a “mini” breakfast.  We had a family breakfast planned for 9:00 but I went down and got me an orange juice, a coffee, and a banana. I took the computer down and worked on the blogs. I was way behind because I didn’t have the free time or the WiFi at Mill Creek to keep myself up to date.  AND….last night as soon as my fingers touched the keyboard my head started bobbing…..kind of the way yours does as you read it.  While blogging I also tried to watch the people for some cute anecdotes but they were all pretty boring so I just gave up on that idea.

I did a final packing and room check.  I made sure that what I needed in the backpack was there and what I would need next out of my bike luggage was on top.  The “throw away” method is starting to show.  When I left home my luggage was expanded as far as it would allow.  Now I am able to zip the “expansion zipper” and make the bag as small as it will get.  It is also a lot easier to carry and attach to the bike.  Once everything was packed, loaded, and secured I rode the mile south on U.S. 31 into Pellston and the Small Town Grille.  This is the same place that I was at on Thursday….DAY SEVEN….while trying to hook up with my kids when I first got into town.

I got to the Grille before anyone else although I knew Josh was around there someplace because his car was parked close by.  I stood in front of the Grille waiting and talking to a couple of locals about the trip.  Soon I saw Josh walking down the street with Evelyn and Lillian in tow.  He let them run ahead to greet me.  We all went into the restaurant and began sliding tables around so that we would all fit.  Before long Kris came in with Isaac and Sunny and then right behind her came Monique with Ivan and Nan.  Before we knew it Dylan also had joined us.  He works right there in town and was able to leave for a half hour or 45 minutes.  Breakfast was great.  They make a pancake that has one big circle and two little circle and arrange them to look similar to Mickey Mouse.  They call them Mickey Cakes and that is what several of the kids ordered along with either chocolate milk or hot chocolate.  The adults got a variety of breakfast type meals.  A lot of whipped cream and syrup was used across the tables and I’m sure that there was some sort of sugar rush that kept Pellston hopping for the next two or three hours.  I’ll say this….the owner of the place has no sense of humor whatsoever.  He came out and was ringing us up (usually the waitress runs the cash register but I seriously think that he was making sure we didn’t skip out on a $90 tab) and I gave him some of my best stuff…..I even threw in some of Mike the Barber’s jokes…and he never cracked a smile.  He’s one of those guys who probably listened to George Carlin like he was giving the State of the Union.

Then there was the hugs and kisses goodbye.  There are a few things in this world that  I have never, ever gotten used to……the designated hitter, pop sizes at McDonald’s, no spare tires in new cars, AND saying goodbye to my kids. It is by far the hardest thing ever.  Whether it is me leaving or them leaving after a visit…….I am really kind of a mess.  If you tell anyone this I will deny it saying that your source must be very unreliable (a good looking hunk….but unreliable). It is a good thing that immediately after the hugs goodbye I get on the bike and ride away so no one can see my face.  Kind of like the first time I saw Old Yeller……only it happens each and every time I have to say goodbye.

So I hit the road.  One great thing about I-75 in Northern Michigan is the traffic is light most of the time and especially at 10:30 on a Monday morning.  I made good time all the way to West Branch, MI. I pulled off there to get gas but also to turn east.  My really great friends for over 45 years keep an RV near Tawas City, MI and Lake Huron.  Since they were staying up there during this time I couldn’t see them while I was in Waterford so I planned this little detour so I could spend a couple hours with them.

It was kind of funny when I stopped for gas in West Branch. I have gotten gas many times at the I-75 exit for West Branch but this was the first time that I bought gas right in town.  I gassed up and pulled over to the side and went into the store to buy a Coke.  A gal walked in right in front of me that sure looked like a drag queen.  I’m not talking about the Bruce Jenner type change-over but just a guy dressed like a woman.  While I was there…..MAYBE 10 or 15 minutes…..three more women with that same “masculine in female attire” appearance came to the store.  There were no flaws in their appearance…..but there was just…….something.  I was bored later on and I Googled it and sure enough I found that in West Branch and serving the surrounding county there are companies that provide drag queen shows for parties and other functions………..That’s my public service announcement if you are ever in the market.

So I rode east on M-55 until I was just about to Tawas City. MI to the Northern Bear Paw RV Park.  That is where Ed and Diane have their trailer.  I wasn’t sure which one was theirs so I called them to tell them I was there.  We had talked last week so they were expecting me.  Diane answered the phone and I told her I was at the office and to lead me to their site.  She said “it’s easy…..see the boat with the blue cover?”  “yup”, I said.  “That’s it!”  Well, that was easy enough and I told her I would be there in about 10 seconds.  She said, “Oh, we aren’t there.  We are at the dentist.  Make yourself at home and we’ll be along shortly.”  So I did……………….

About 20 minutes later they pulled in.  The first activity was Ed and I jumping into their golf cart and off we went “baja’ing” through the woods.  It is a way cool area with little trails that took us back quite a bit to the Au Gres River or a branch of Au Gres River or something that had something to do with the Au Gres River.  Then I got the tour of the trailer.  It was really nice.  I was kind of surprised how nice it was…….I don’t know why I was surprised but I was.  Then we shot into Tawas City and had lunch at Jack’SS Place.  Ironically our waiter’s name was Jack so Ed kept calling him the owner.  I don’t know if he thought it was funny or not but Ed and I had a good laugh.

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I told Ed and Diane when they got home that I wanted to leave at 4:00 or 4:30 because I still had to ride to Waterford.  My departure time wound up being pretty close…..I left at a little after 6:00!!!!!  It is a darn good thing I didn’t tell them that had to leave at 6:00 or it might have been 9:00 before I got out of there.  But we said our goodbyes.  Michigan is about the only place I’ll ever see Ed because he hates the Florida heat.

The 3 hour ride into Waterford was great.  The weather was perfect for the ride and with it being a little later in the day traffic was nice and light.  I was checked back into the Comfort Inn in Waterford by 9:00.  I did a quick note in Facebook saying that I was going to grab a burger on Tuesday afternoon as kind of my last hurrah for this year’s pilgrimage to Michigan.  I don’t expect anyone to show up but I threw it out there anyway.

A short Skype with Lisa and I was down for the night.  See ya on DAY TWELVE!!