Vero and Gainesville. Great Memories

Day 69  July 29  Orlando to Vero Beach 121 miles Total trip miles to date: 14,359 Sorry for the late entry. I did not have internet at the place I stayed last night. I’m sitting in a Starbuck’s (of course) working on my delinquent post. Vero Beach, FL. This place is special to me. I’ve always been more engaged in my writing when away from home and alone. This small place of just 15,000 folks was chosen for the place I would write The Quest while on my last sabbatical. I wanted wintertime warmth (I was here from Dec-March on that sabbatical) and a place without too many people and too much noise. It just so happened that a good friend, Jack Mathews, had a small vacation cabin in Vero that he offered to me. I’m staying over in that very cabin right now. Great memories of a special time. The McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero was where I would write every day from 10:00-2:00. The manager gave me a special table in…

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The Beach to Orlando

Day 68  July 28 St. Augustine, FL to Orlando 109  miles Total trip miles to date: 14,238 Sorry, no pictures today. I slept in this morning.  What a treat!  I’ve had trouble sleeping over the last 5-6 days and it was great to finally get a good night’s rest. I got up and watched the final time trial day of the Tour de France that decided the race. I’ve missed most of the race this year, so it was a treat to see the last big day. Tomorrow they ride to Paris and the Champs-Elysees and the finish. I wiped down the Spirit and then drove to a Starbucks just down the street and had croissants and coffee for breakfast. As my good luck would have it, there was only one parking spot available, right in front of the door. I slipped into it. There was a large group of folks outside having coffee and chatting, and, of course, The Spirit drew them in. By the time I got out of the cockpit,…

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SC, GA, FL. 9 hrs.

  Day 67  July 27  Newberry, SC to St. Augustine, FL 425  miles Total trip miles to date: 14,129 I woke up to sunny, hot weather.  After cleaning up the Spirit, checking the oil, tightening the knockoff spinners, and upping the air pressure on all 3 tires with the compressor, I felt the Spirit was ready to fly.  I took a shower and loaded the vehicle, and was already soaked before I got in the seat. The heat and humidity were already at a near unbearable level at 9:00am. I was hot, but, the Spirit had no issues, handling the heat like a pro.  We were on the road 9 hours today (with three stops for Starbuck’s Frappuccino’s).  Well over 400 miles, in all.  Going on back roads is interesting, but it can also be a bit boring.  I decided to challenge myself. After checking where the sun was (and the shadows), I thought I would see if I could get myself both south and east to the coast before I got to…

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Sunshine!!!

Day 66  July 26 Asheville, NC to Maggie Valley, to Forest City, to Newberry, SC 256  miles Total trip miles to date: 13,704   I was  happy to peek out the room window this morning and see a blue sky! I’ve lost count of how many days in a row it has rained, basically every day in VA. I made a trip to a nearby REI and purchased two shirts and  two pair of shorts to replace those in the lost bag yesterday.  Having the sun out really made a difference in my attitude. Then I made a stop atWal-Mart to get a traveler’s bathroom bag with everything I needed. It was back to the motel to take a shower, then off the 35 miles west to Maggie Valley and the Wheels Through Time museum. I pulled into the big lot and parked the Spirit. Matt Wexler came out and welcomed me and asked me to back the Spirit up front/center on the entry way. What an honor. The Spirit was a hit.…

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A Day of Loss

Day 65  July 25  Roanoke, VA to Asheville, NC 282  miles Total trip miles to date: 13,448   Today was the big trip down the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, a beautiful double yellow line, 2-lane. I started in Roanoke early, with a forecast of rain most of the way. The forecast was right. Even with rain most of the way, the ride was beautiful. I was in a reflective mood, like I imagine you get after 65 days on the road. I’ve also slept very little the last two nights and have not been eating much. I need to take better care of myself in this last stretch. Lots of fatigue building up.   I was kind of in a cruise control mood, paying attention to the road, and cruising along at 45 mph (yep, that’s the speed limit on the Parkway), which allowed me to do a lot of thinking. The topic today: Friendship. What makes a true friend? Hopefully, we all have one of those special friends who knows us, appreciates…

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Harrisonburg to Roanoke, a long, wet slog

Day 64  July 24 Harrisonburg to Roanoke 136 very slow miles Total trip miles to date: 13,166 The clock went off and I jumped up to open the curtain to see the weather. Rain! Pouring rain! When will this stop? I waited all morning and made the decision to give it a go, rather than get the room for another night.  I need to get farther south, rain or shine. I got onto I-81 for a few miles before exiting.  Big mistake!  I had only gone one exit when the traffic stopped.  Totally stopped. Apparently, an accident ahead had stopped all lanes. I turned the motor off and sat for a good 30 minutes without moving.  I actually pulled a book out. Dark clouds were moving in and I found the umbrella just in case I had to raise it while sitting on I-81.  Unbelievable! Then I saw that an on-ramp was just ahead to the right.  I followed a car into the shoulder and across the grass onto the on-ramp.  From there,…

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The End of the Civil War

  Day 63  July 23 Appomattox, VA to Charlottesville to Harrisonburg. 130 miles Total trip miles to date: 13.030 The morning began with the same dark clouds of yesterday. I drove a mile to the Appomattox museum for a visit before driving to the site of the McLean Home, used for the signing of surrender by General Lee to General Grant. It was well worth the 2 hours spent. The museum had plenty of civil war artifacts, including General Lee’s jacket he wore that day and his special sword that he offered to General Grant (who refused it).  There is also a death mask of Lee. There are a number of jackets on display, and it’s amazing that they are in such good shape after 150+ years.   The Appomattox court house, is actually a group of buildings out in the country that provided the perfect setting for one of the most famous moments in U.S. History. All of the building have been restored and the parlor of the McLean home, used for…

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A bridge, tunnels and more rain

Day 62  July 22 Lewes, DE to Appomattox, VA 374 miles Total trip miles to date: 12,950 I woke up to sun coming in the motel window!   Yes!!! By the time I had breakfast, however, it was cloudy. By 8:45, I was on the road, taking Hwy. 9 west for 25 miles to Hwy. 13 for the long trek down the Maryland and Virginia coasts. Without the use of my phone(it drowned yesterday) it was old school with a map next to me. While there was water on both sides of me (the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic), I did not see it due to the thick trees. Only at the end of the Eastern Shores of Virginia did I see the water before embarking on the long Chesapeake Bay bridge and tunnels (all 21 miles of it). On this bridge, there are very few places to pull off if there is a problem.  There are no places in the long tunnels. Thankfully I got through it just fine.   Once in Virginia…

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It finally rained. Actually it RAINED!

Day 61  July 20 Millville, NJ to Lewes, DE 40 miles + a 1.5 hr. roller-coaster Ferry ride Total trip miles to date: 12,576 When I got up this morning in Millville, I immediately went to the window to check the weather.  Cloudy, but not raining.  Good! I packed everything and just as I got ready to get into the cockpit, a very light drizzle started.  I put my rain jacket on, but didn’t bother with the pants. That was not a good idea. Expecting rain on the ride, I also pulled out the waterproof gloves and the helmet. I hadn’t gone 10 miles when the heavens opened up. By the time I got to Cape May to catch the 1 ½ hr. Ferry to Lewes, Delaware, I was wet. Really wet. The cockpit was more of a bathtub. I slowed down, concerned about hydroplaning. Then I saw an electronic sign set up by the road: “Caution. Roads Flooded Ahead.” They were right.  The roads had significant standing water, and I began to…

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Down the Atlantic Seaboard

Day 60  July 19  Meriden, CT to Millville, NJ 190 miles Total trip miles to date: 12,536 A great day of driving began with a trip to Orange County Choppers. Talented father and sons, but it was the dysfunctional relationships that most folks tuned in for.   OCC was within walking distance of my hotel.  The place was over the top! Beautiful building, huge sales room, café, bowling alley, and many of the special bikes from the show exhibited. I remember when the show began, the place they had was a far cry from this!   I didn’t stay long, as I had at least 5 hours to drive today. I took Hwy. 206 and other 2-lanes south eventually stopping at Millville to overnight. The rooms in and near Cape May were just too expensive. My concerns of being too close to NYC and Philadelphia proved unwarranted.  The traffic was fine all the way,  a pleasant drive with lots of small towns to break up the trip. Just outside of Princeton, I stopped in…

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