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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Epilogue 3 The Best and the Worst of Everything




My Bride on Maui for Our 40th Wedding Anniversary! (We left for Maui about 2 weeks after I got
back from the A Lap Around America motorcycle trip)
 This last epilogue segment, and probably the last post on this blog for a long while, provides a lot of my opinions about the best and worst roads, scenery, gas prices, states, people, temperatures, climate conditions, surprises, tolls, bridges, ferries, new states, the most livable places, and simple questions about things encountered along the way. This is basically what I liked about the trip and what I didn't.

ONE DISCLAIMER: My opinions of all of these are based on the sections of the states that I rode through. For example, I might say that the roads were good in a certain state . . . . . . what that means is that the roads I traveled on were good. The roads in the rest of the state might be horrible but my judgments are based on the places I traveled. So that's my disclaimer but I'd still love to hear your opinions on these topics!

Best Scenery-The best scenery I've ever seen in my life ANYTIME, ANYWHERE is my Bride in the picture above. We stopped at a small bay on the Road to Hana on Maui and I took this picture of her. Other than her, CA is, by far, in a league of its own when it comes to scenery on the trip with the Pacific Coast Highway going from San Diego to the Oregon border. While I didn't get to visit magnificent Lake Tahoe on this trip, it also ranks WAY up there on scenic beauty-Colorado is beautiful but this gigantic, jaw-dropping lake up high in the mountains separates CA from CO. The Oregon coast is also beautiful but I don't think there are any parts of the PCH in OR that can match Big Sur. The Big Sur section of the Pacific Coast Highway gives CA the best scenery award. Other states notable for pretty scenery are OR, WA, MT, VT, NH, ME, VA, NC, and FL. Texas? Naw, I just can't bring myself to do it!

Worst Scenery-The scenery that appealed to me the least was in NM and Eastern MT. Other states that had less than appealing scenery like West TX, AZ and ND had other redeeming qualities making them not in the disparaged league with NM and Eastern MT. A lot of states in the upper Midwest from MN to the Northeast in ME were okay because they were generally wooded with somewhat hilly and curvey roads. Each state had its own beauty, although some of them were quite austere.

Best and Worst Directions to Travel-If you consider that I basically rode West from TX to CA, North from CA to WA, East from WA to ME, South from ME to FL, and then West again from FL back to TX, I thought of the favorite directions I rode. Not that the direction was really important, but the scenery, roads, people, and overall ambiance of the trip was different in each direction.

My favorite direction was North from San Diego, CA to Cape Flattery, WA because the scenery was the best of the entire trip, the roads were either good or very good, and the pace was more relaxing than the other directions-it seems that I went faster across the deserts and the great plains. The one factor that makes riding North for this segment of the trip so enjoyable was the fact that the Pacific Ocean was almost always immediately to my left. The riding West was probably the least enjoyable segment of the trip because this segment involved mostly the desert states of TX, NM, AZ, and Eastern CA. It was early in the trip at that point and I was excited by the adventure of it all. It wasn't until right in San Diego that I really saw palm trees, landscaping, and some natural beauty. The Westward riding was also through FL, AL, MS, LA, and East TX-while interesting and sometimes beautiful (The FL Panhandle!), a lot of this segment was backwater.

The second most enjoyable segment has to be Southbound from ME to FL. Most of the new states to me were along this segment and riding along the water is almost always better than just following a border! Again the water was off to my left but it was the Atlantic, rather than the Pacific, along the Southbound segment.

Now . . . . . . that leaves the Eastward journey from WA to ME. In addition to being, by far, the longest segment of the trip, a lot of it was across America's Great Plains. That means that the land was very flat, with few trees, and somewhat featureless. Eastern MT and ND were almost boring. The major redeeming place of this segment was across the Cascades and the Rockies in WA, ID, and Western MT. It became more bearable in MN, WI, and MI because of the addition of TREES!

I guess the summary of this is that the coasts were better than the borders!

Friendliest and Least Friendly People-We have another runaway winner with two states tied as the friendliest: ND and VA were the friendliest with TX, MT, NC, and GA completing the top six. Maybe VA was one of the friendliest because I'd been in the North and NE for weeks and VA was the first of the Southern states. Based on my travels and observations, the least friendly states were MN, ME, CN, and NY. Other than two state park rangers falling down laughing as I fought off small helicopter-sized mosquitos at a state park in MN, it was in a league of its own in terms of unfriendliness. I was a little surprised that people in NJ were friendlier than I remembered or expected. Maybe because I wasn't on the NJ Turnpike! The people that I encountered in ME weren't just unfriendly-they were just downright COLD! The rest of the states fall between these two extremes.

Best Roads-There is no comparison here as again two states stand head and shoulders above the others. Surprisingly, VA and NH had, by far, the best roads. The roads in VA were nearly perfect while NH’s roads were perfect except up in the White Mountains. There were some short sections of rough roads up there but that’s to be expected in the mountains near Mt. Washington. Other states with good roads were CA, OR, WA, NJ, NC, and ME. If you agree or disagree with my assessments, please reread my disclaimer statement above! The Garden State Turnpike from Perth Amboy to Atlantic City, NJ was magnificent but the New Jersey turnpike, from other trips, is like a roller coaster ride because of the condition of the roadway!
Worst Roads-Now, this is a really competitive category! The roads were horrible in MT, NY, CN, AL, and LA. The roads were really, really bad in New York City but the roads I traveled in the rest of NY state were acceptable. The horrible roads in NYC are just another one of the many reasons why I should have avoided NYC altogether. My plans were to head East on the North side of Long Island and go out near the Easternmost point in NY but the traffic and roads in NYC helped me change my minds very quickly! I couldn't stand the thought of more of that horrible traffic and roads in NYC! Riding through NYC was like riding a bucking horse because I was bounced all over the place!
Highest and Lowest Gas Prices-The highest gas prices I saw were in CA, OR, WA, and NY. The lowest gas prices I saw were in GA and TX. I put my gas prices observations following my best and worst roads observations because there should be a relationship between the two: High gas prices = high state road taxes  should = better roads-right? Well, NYC sure proves that theory wrong, doesn’t it?
Hottest and Coldest Places-In order to think of temperatures, you have to remember that I left Kingwood, TX on May 14th and returned on June 23rd. I was in West TX, NM, and AZ early in the trip and before the temperatures reached the 100’s. So the hottest temperatures I saw were in AZ, FL, AL, MS, LA and TX. The coldest temperatures I saw were in the Cascades and Rocky Mountains of WA, ID and MT. While I saw snow in 3-4 states, the deepest snow I saw was in North Cascades National Park in WA. The road was in a ditch of snow piled 6-8 feet high on the side of the roads. The coldest temperature I saw was 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most and Least Livable States-Of the 32 states on the trip, I would rank VA as the most livable state. The roads were good, the state was clean, the people were friendly, the road signs were clear, and the scenery was pretty good. Other states that I would rank high on the livability scale would be, of course, TX, CA, OR, WA, DE, MD, NC, and GA. Now, the "Griff Livability Factor Scale" doesn't consider the cost of living. If the GLFC did consider costs, CA, OR, WA and probably DE and MD would have to be dropped from the list.
The states that I found the least livable were NM, AZ, MN, MI, OH, PA, NY, and CN. The reasons for both classifications are based on the factors listed above related to VA-the roads, the cleanliness factor, friendliness of the people, road signs, and scenery. The absolute least enjoyable drive was through four of the five boroughs of New York City-I wouldn't dare ride the bike through Manhattan! The roads were horrible-HORRIBLE! The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are not exactly the cleanest places in the USA, the drivers were maniacs and signs were written in Russian or someother language I don't speak!
The Number of Times I was Flipped Off: 2, both times in New York City. What I was doing wrong? Hum, driving 10 miles per hour below the speed limit in the right lane . . . . . NYC!
Tolls-I paid tolls to drive on roads and over bridges in TX, CA, MI, NY, MA, RI, CN, NJ, and VA. The most beautiful bridge has to be the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco to Marin County, CA. The Chesapeak Bay Bridge Tunnel in VA is a magnificent piece of engineering. Other magnificent bridges would be Mackinac Bridge from the Upper Peninsula of MI to the Lower Peninsula and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Brooklyn to Staten Island, NY.

Ferries-The bike and I rode ferries in TX, WA, MI, NJ, DE, VA, NC, and FL. The two longest ferry rides were the Cape May, NJ to Lewes, DE and the Ocracoke Island to Cedar Island, NC ferries. Both of them were 2 to 3 hours long. The prettiest ferry ride was from Port Townsend to Coupeville on Whidbey Island, WA.
New States for Me-The new states I saw on this trip were ND, ME, RI, DE, NC, and SC. Of these new states, I'm now up to 48 states with my Bride and I thinking about a cruise to AK but WV? I'm sure WV has its attractions but I can't imagine, in my wildest dreams, ever imaging us going to WV for any reason other than being the last of the 50 states to visit!
Questions I Had or STILL Have-First, do people in CA really eat crickets and cricket larvae? I saw them in a store along the border between Yuma and San Diego. Second, I was riding through the Upper Peninsula of MI and see signs along the roads that advertise "Pasties." I stopped at a place to learn that a Pastie is like stew put into toasted dough and is pronounced "Past-ie" not "Paste-ie." Thank goodness for that!

Do people in the Deep South really eat boiled peanuts? I saw them in several convenience stores down South and I still don't get it. Also in the Deep South, I saw dozens of roadside stands selling Sweetgrass Hats and Baskets-HUH?

Now, what's up with the Suwanee River? I saw signs for 25-30 miles announcing it like I was crossing the Mississippi or the Columbia. I'd heard of the Suwanee but what's the big deal with it?
Pleasant Surprises and Enjoyable Experiences-There were many, many things I found interesting and enjoyable on the trip but none of them compare with Mackinac Island, MI. I'd heard of it from the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour but I'd never really thought about going there to visit. The KOA in St. Ignace, MI had a sign that advertised ferry rides out to the island. I found it quaint like Carmel, CA, beautiful like San Diego, surrounded by blue Lake Huron, and really fascinating because motorized vehicles aren't allowed on the island! The fact that you don't hear cars, trucks, motorcycles, lawnmowers, etc. really made it uniquely different. People get around on the island either by horse-drawn carriage, foot or bicycle. I rented a bike and rode the entire eight miles around the island. Virtually every place I went on the island looked like a postcard! The 400 or so full-time Mackinac Islanders use their snowmobiles to reach the mainland in the winter when Lake Huron freezes over. The homes on the island have to meet tight architectural  standards and what's really unique is that they don't have garages! It's really a beautiful, unique place. My Bride and I have to return there!
Other really enjoyable experiences were
  • gaining a greater appreciation for the USA and our economic strength by driving through destitute cities along the enire US-Mexico border from TX, through NM and AZ to CA,
  • finally reaching the beautiful, blue Pacific Ocean after a week crossing deserts in TX, NM, AZ, and Eastern CA. Finally reaching the Pacific Ocean in Imperial Beach, CA was a gift!
  • riding through the quinessential beach town, Village of La Jolla, CA,
  • Meeting Ron and Betty Dixon and riding with them from the LA area to Tillamook, OR,
  • seeing where the outdoor scenes from the TV series M*A*S*H were filmed at Malibu Creek State Park near Malibu, CA,
  • coincidentally meeting two former students from Cascade at a state park in CA,
  • riding that magnificent, almost unbelievably beautiful, section of the CA coast called Big Sur,
  • riding my bike through the Drive Thru (Ride Thru?) Tree in Leggett, CA,
  • Refreshing all those positive memories of family trips along the Oregon Coast,
  • visiting with former students and friends along the way,
  • spending about half a day at an absolutely beautiful place out in Lake Huron called Mackinac Island, MI,
  • finally seeing all five of the "H-O-M-E-S" Great Lakes. I had not thought of this but four of the five Great Lakes were new to me. I had been to Chicago and Milwaukee several times and seen Lake Michigan but not Huron, Ontario, Erie or Superior. I'd seen between the other lakes-the Detroit River that flows from Lake Huron to Lake Erie in Detroit and the Niagara River that connects Lake Erie with Lake Ontario at, of course, Niagara Falls, NY.
  • sadly seeing the formerly great cities that are now rust-belt buckles of Flint and Detroit, MI, Toledo and Cleveland, OH and Buffalo, NY,
  • seeing Niagara Falls from the US side (but I have to admit that the view is better from the Canadian side!),
  • spending 3-4 hours at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY,
  • enjoyed seeing all of the very friendly and very long border we share with our Canadian friends and neighbors,
  • talking with hundreds of locals at gas stations, restaurants, campgrounds and on ferries literally all over the country,
  • seeing the mansions along Ocean Walk in Newport, RI,
  • Seeing the state capitals of NY in Albany, NH in Concord, and ME in Augusta,
  • exploring the Outer Banks of NC,
  • seeing the historical cities of Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA, and my overall favorite . . . . . .
  • the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC. As a person who's always been fascinated with flight, going to the place where the first powered flight took place was really special! About five years ago, I was privileged to take five students to the Pentagon to make a presentation to the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy. While in DC, we visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and I got to see the original Wright's Flyer among numerous other aircraft on display. Now seeing where it happend was really special! I heard the Park Ranger talk about the Wright Brothers, Kill Devil Hill, and what happened there 108 years ago but what really got me wasn't until I stopped walking at the end of the "runway" where Orville and Wilbur first flew. I was standing at a point about 900 feet from their take off point, where the fourth flight ended, looking back toward Kill Devil Hill, and the wind was very strong at my back. It was then that I realized that the wind I was feeling was the same wind that the Wright Brothers flew into to get the lift of the Wright Flyer. I had goosebumps!
In summary, the trip was a great experience and totally enjoyable. I found it satisfied the goals I had and still have of travel and adventure . . . . . . especially the boondocking! I met a lot of friendly, interesting, and unique people, saw things I'll probably never see again, and gained an appreciation of living in the best country in the world! I would recommend a trip like this to anyone who has a touch of wanderlust, a spirit of adventure and a great appreciation of the beauty and diversity of the United States!

Now, would I do it again? No, I would not leave my Bride at home for six weeks-the time away from her was the only negative of the entire experience. Now, if I could persuade her to go with me . . . . . . . .

Monday, October 31, 2011

Epilogue-2 The Numbers

This Epilogue segment focuses on the numbers of the trip. This includes mileages, states, gasoline, Honda dealers, mosquito and tick bites, tipovers, lodging, cities, islands and another thing or two.
The total mileage from home, around the lower 48 states, and back home was 12,038 miles. I had estimated 10 to 12,000 miles for the trip. I sure don't know how I ended up with over 12,000 miles because I did the WAOF thing-Without All Of Florida. I didn't ride the Canadian border across Northern NY, VT, NH, and ME because of the breeding habits of moose. I also didn't ride the East and West coasts of FL-I was too homesick. In 41 days, the mileage per day was 292.8. I had planned on 300 miles per day (one 150 mile tank of gas in the morning and another in the afternoon) so this was pretty accurate.
Deviations from the plan: There were four major changes in the route I had planned and they all four occurred for different reasons:
  • There are a couple of county roads that follow closer to the U. S./Mexico border across AZ. I got a cup of coffee in Bisbee, AZ and started talking with another biker. He asked where I was headed and, of course, I described ALAA to him. He suggested that I head North toward Tombstone and Tucson and avoid those narrow, desolate county roads closer to the border. Of course, I had to ask why and his answer surprised me. These are very desolate roads where illegal immigrants cross into the US. He suggested avoiding those roads because of desperate illegals, lack of traffic and safety reasons in general. I took his advice!
  • I had planned to ride Hiway 2 near the Canadian border across all of ND and MN. There was flooding East of Minot, ND that forced me to follow a more Southerly route.
  • I had planned to basically follow the Canadian border from WA to ME but, again, I was warned about Moose in upstate NY, VT, NH and ME. Three or four different motorcyclists warned me that following the U. S./Canada border through New England was downright foolhardy and I took their advice. I still went through all four of those New England states but it was through Southern NY, VT, NH and ME. Who would have thought that I'd modify the planned route because of the romantic interests of moose?
  • I wimped out on FL. I'd been to South FL too many times to count, including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa and the keys all the way down to Key West. I'd been gone about five weeks when I got to San Augustine, FL and I was tired, lonely, hungry and I was ready to get home to my Bride. So instead of following the East and West coasts of Florida to Miami and the keys, I headed HOME!
The trip involved 32 states. This was all the states that border
·         the Gulf of Mexico from Houston/Galveston Island to the Rio Grande Valley in TX,
·         the US-Mexico border from the Rio Grande Valley in TX, through NM and AZ, to CA,
·         the Pacific Ocean from San Diego in Southern CA, through OR, and to WA. This was, by far, the prettiest portion of the ride with the Pacific Ocean, mountains, forests AND rain forests, and rivers. This segment covered San Diego, LA (the second largest city in the U. S.) and San Francisco.
·         the US-Canada border, from WA, through ID, MT, ND, MN, MI, OH, PA, NY, VT, NH to ME. This Pacific to Atlantic segment was, by far, the longest segment of the trip. This Eastbound segment was also radically different scenery from the Rockie Mountains to the Great Plains to the Northern Appalachians to the Atlantic Coast,
·         the Atlantic Ocean from ME, through NH again, MA, RI, CN, NY again, NJ, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, to FL,
·         the Gulf of Mexico again from FL through AL, MS, and LA back to TX.
State Borders: Of course, I crossed into 32 different states but ended up crossing some of the state borders twice. For example, Highway 2 across the Upper Peninsula of MI drops back into WI and then back to MI. NY and NH touch both the Canadian border and the Atlantic so I entered them, exited them, and entered them and exited them again later. So it seems that there were 38 state border crossings.
The Bike and Gasoline: I filled up the bike with gasoline 86 times for a total of 256.6 gallons of gasoline. This works out to be 46.79 miles per gallon and almost exactly 3.0 gallons per fill up. The bike holds a total of 4.3 gallons so I had, on average, some reserve.
The number of Honda motorcycle dealers visited: 5
·         A routine maintenance in El Paso, TX,
·         A new rear tire and oil/filter change in Glasgow, MT,
·         A new front tire and a new helmet in Warren, MI,
·         A new battery in Rochester, NY,
·         An oil/filter change in Somers Point, NJ.

Insects: Mosquito bites: Between 75 and 100. Surprisingly most of these were in MN, WI, and MI! Tick bites: 2
Number of times I tipped the bike over: 3
·         A switchback road in CA was covered with sand. I was going no more than 5 mph so there was no damage to me or the bike,
·         A truck pulled in front of me in MD. I slid a ways until I was almost stopped and then the inertia of the bike pulled it over,
·         I pulled off the road under a tree in a rainstorm near New Orleans into an absolute  quagmire! I couldn't pick the bike up because of the six inch deep mud but three guys stopped and helped. Fortunately, these were very, very slow tipovers so neither of us (the bike or I) were hurt!

Lodging: Where I stayed for the 41 nights:
·         Spent the night 12 times in state or national parks or forests,
·         Spent seven nights in KOA Kampgrounds,
·         Spent three nights with former students who are now friends,
·         Spent 14 nights in various Roach NoTell Motels and Motel6’s,
·         Spent five nights boondocking behind churches, schools, industrial facilities, and in parks.
Mackinac Island from the St. Ignace Ferry
Cities: Well, I could never BEGIN to count the number of cities I went through because it would probably be in the thousands but . . . . . . there are a few notable comments about the cities and towns;
  • I rode through 3 of the 4 largest cities in the United States. I started in Houston, which is 4th, went through Los Angeles, which is 2nd, and managed to stay alive riding through four of the five burroughs of New York City, which is, of course, the largest city in the U. S.
  • The biggest cities in Texas I rode through were Houston, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Laredo and El Paso. Corpus Christi is called "The Sparkling City by the Sea" and it's very pretty. Houston, Harlingen, Laredo and El Paso? Well, not so much!
  • Humph, the largest city I rode through in New Mexico was Santa Teresa which you've probably never heard of before. It's a small town in the Northern suburbs of El Paso, TX. I followed the U. S./Mexico border pretty closely through Southern NM and there just aren't very many cities, towns or villages of any size along that route.
  • The largest city I went through in AZ was Tucson. Tucson is an interesting place mainly because the Univ of AZ is there but it's not what you would call pretty. Like NM, most of Southern AZ is pretty desolate but I also passed through Douglas, Bisbee and Yuma and all of these are right on the U. S.-Mexico border.
  • I saw the first really nice cities, and beautiful countryside, of the trip when I got to CA. San Diego is one of the most spectacular cities in the U. S. and the CA coast was a welcome reprieve from the deserts of TX, NM, AZ and Eastern CA. Headed North from San Diego, I first encountered La Jolla which is the absolute definition of a CA beach town. It's quaint, hip, cute as it can be and, of course, very expensive. My first day in CA on this trip also took me through Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside before reaching the somewhat desolated area around Camp Pendleton. Hereis a picture of San Diego:
San Diego Bay-finally water after a week through the desert!

  • The second largest city of the trip was, of course, LA. The suburbs of LA began in San Clemente which was where I spent my first night in CA on this trip. Some of the cities South of LA were Laguna Nigel, Newport  Beach, Huntington Beach, Long  Beach, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach. San Clemente was where I met Ron and Betty Dixon and we rode together for almost a week until we parted ways in Tillamook, OR. We rode under LAX Airport, through Marina Del Rey, Venice and Santa Monica before getting more or less out of the city at Pacific Palisades before heading West toward Malibu.
  • The next city past Malibu was Oxnard where the PCH leaves the beach and goes inland through the city. We followed the PCH back to the Pacific at Ventura on the way to Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is another one of those super expensive, beautiful CA beach towns. It's not called the "Riviera of America" for nothing. SB really is a gift of a city: beautiful scenery, perfect weather and away from the hustle and bustle of LA!
  • Hiway 1, the PCH, turns inland again to go through Lompoc, Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo before reaching the coast again at Morro Bay. North from Morro Bay to Carmel is such magnificent scenery that there are few words to describe its beauty. The Santa Lucia coastal range of mountains reach right down to the blue Pacific and the PCH winds around and about and up and down while never losing sight of the Pacific. I've never counted but I would imagine that there are 200 or more turnouts in the 125 miles of this section of the PCH. 99% of these turnouts are on the West side of the road and enable you to look down directly at the Pacific Ocean. This section of the highway is called Big Sur and it was, by far, my favorite and the most beautiful section of highway I rode on during the 12,000+ miles plus of ALAA. If you haven't driven or ridden this section of highway, it's something that everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. Imagining its beauty without seeing it is almost impossible but you can get an idea of its beauty by Google-Imaging "Big Sur." You'll see! I love the scenery in a number of places in the US, including Lake Tahoe, Maui, Crater Lake, the Columbia River Gorge, the Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains and the Florida Keys but there is just something in Big Sur that takes my breath away! Here is a picture of Big Sur showing the much-photographed Bixby Bridge. You can see why I love the Big Sur section of the PCH sooooo much!
The Big Sur Coast

  • Just before coming into Carmel, there is a small sign that says Point Lobos State Reserve. While not a city, just more of a nature park, this is one spectacular piece of real estate. Will Rogers called Point Lobos "the most beautiful meeting of land and sea" and, you know what?, I agree with him!
  • Carmel is the next town encountered following the route I took. Carmel is noted for its former mayor being Clint Eastwood and that established the type of town it is. I don"t think Carmel has any chain or big box stores, just small independent, funky merchants. Oh, and Carmel is also VERY expensive. While tourists flock to Carmel, it doesn't make any outward attempts to cater to them unless they are of the very well-heeled variety of tourists. I'm not a golfer but the green fees were $600 for a round of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links the last time I checked. It's generally accepted as the most beautiful golf course in America. I wasn't able to go to Pebble Beach on this trip because motorcycles aren't allowed on the 17 Mile Drive to reach Pebble Beach. Maybe I should mention that the 17 Mile Drive is a scenic route through Pebble Beach, Carmel and Pacific Grove. Motorcycles aren't allowed on the 17 Mile Drive. This drive costs around $12 and passes the Lone Cypress (again, Google image it!) and the numerous golf courses along the coast. Diana and I have driven the 17 Mile Drive numerous times in the past and stopped at each of the beautiful points along the coast. On one trip there, we we saw 6-8 deer grazing on the golf courses along the coast.
  • Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel are separated by a very small town called Pacific Grove which is one of my favorite cities on the CA coast. It's on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula and captures the essence of "cute" without the snobbiness of Carmel. Pacific Grove is also called "Butterfly Town, USA" because it has a Monarch Butterfly habitat. Here is the welcome sign at the entrance to Pacific Grove:

  • Monterey is the tourist capital and greatest population city of the CA coast between San Francisco and LA. It is mostly known for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row and Laguna Seca Raceway.
  • More or less in the middle of Monterey Bay is Watsonville, CA. Watsonville is in a rich agricultural region known for growing many types of berries and nuts. In earlier trips through Watsonville, we've bought strawberries, almonds and cashews. This trip I bought two "red" oranges-yum!
  • The North edge of Monterey Bay is bounded by Santa Cruz which has a pretty cool boardwalk and is home to UC-Santa Cruz.
  • The only community of any size between Santa Cruz and the San Francisco suburbs is Half Moon Bay. I camped in a state park there that is located right on the coast. The sound of the waves rock you to sleep!
  • The suburbs of San Francisco start at Pacifica and include Daly City and Westlake before getting into the city. Ron, Betty and I stopped at the first attraction along the PCH, the Cliff House, and took a look at the seals out on Seal Rocks. We took Geary to Van Ness and then North toward Fisherman's Wharf. Since Ron and Betty had not been to SF before, we decided they needed a quick tour of the city. We found a place to park the bikes near Fisherman's Wharf and spent the first few hours in SF exploring Pier 39 and the views around there. I tried to talk Ron and Betty into one of the tours of Alcatraz but they elected not to go out to the island. Diana and I had been there before with Sara and Ryan. We rode a Cable Car to the top of Lombard Street so they could see "the crookedest street in the world" and then rode on to Chinatown. A few hours in Chinatown and we headed back to the bikes. On our way to the Golden Gate Bridge, we stopped at the Palace of Fine Arts and took a ride through the Presidio. After crossing the GG Bridge, we stopped at the first overlook in Marin County for a last look at San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge is a gift of engineering, connecting America's most beautiful city to the ocean and Marin County to the North
The Golden Gate Bridge crossing entrace to San Francisco Bay

  • We took the Highway 1 cut-off from the 101 toward Mt. Tam State Park and Highway 1 the coast. Stinson Beach is so small it's barely a town but it was the last town for a long while.
  • The next day we went throug Ft. Bragg and reached Garberville. It was raining through this section of the coast and we saw a family on touring bicycles headed North up the PCH. We talked to them at a gas station and found out that they were from Colorado and were NOT enjoying riding up and down the hills in the rain . . . . on bicycles! Highway 1 goes inland for a while to connect with the 101 and Ron, Betty and I had to ride through the Leggett Drive Through Tree and stop for the photo op!
  • Eureka, Arcata and Crescent City are all small towns on either side of Redwoods National Park up near the Oregon border. These are cute (beautiful?) little villages because they sit right on the Pacific coast. While not a city, Redwoods National Park wins the award for the most beautiful of the national parks visited on ALAA. The "Avenue of the Giants" is a 31 mile section of old Hiway 101 that winds through the giant Coastal Redwoods that Northern CA is noted for.
  • The first town on the coast of Oregon is Brookings where I stayed in a KOA Kamping Kabin. There are a lot of small towns on the OR coast and most of them bring back pleasant memories on the time we've spent in the villages and campgrounds along the coast. A few of these cities are Gold Beach, Coos Bay, Reedsport, Florence, Yachats, Waldport, Depoe Bay and Lincoln City. There are several spots along the OR coast that are especially beautiful. The first is Cape Perpetua just South of Yachats. Below is a picture of Cape Perpetua I pulled off Google Images. You can clearly see Highway 101 as it follows the coast and the mountains in the background reaching right down to the Pacific. Another is Cape Lookout which is a cape that is essentially a peninsula that sticks out into the Pacific about two miles. The trail out to the tip is 800-1000 feet above the water. There is a historical marker about halfway out to the tip of the cape that memoralizes a plane crash that happened during WWII. It seems that that a B-17 was on a routine patrol of the OR coast. The fog was down to about 1,000 feet above sea level so the plane dropped below the fog to about 800-900 feet. Well, in the days BEFORE radar, there was no way for the crew to know that Cape Lookout sticks out two miles into the Pacific and is almost 1,000 feet high. There was one survivor of the crash and parts of the B-17 are still out on the Cape but they are 40-50 feet off the Cape Trail.
  • If you've never been to the Pacific coast in Oregon, there are a couple of things you need to understand. First, the OR coast IS beautiful but the water is FAR too cold to swim in! The second is that the temperatures along the OR coast require long pants, jackets and gloves even in the middle of the summer! The winter brings storms off the Pacific but you NEVER go to the OR coast without heavy clothes!
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    Cape Perpetua, OR
  • After reaching Tillamook and, of course, visiting the Tillamook Cheese Factory, I parted travel with Ron and Betty. They headed inland to go to Seattle and I headed for Portland to visit my alltime favorite student and her husband. Most of that day was in Tualatin and Gresham, OR to take a look at our former home in that Eastern suburb of Portland.
  • Leaving Tualatin the next morning took me back to the coast and North toward Washington. Seaside was always a cute little city to visit on the North Oregon coast and it's a city built for tourists. The Hood-to-Coast Relay race and the Portland-to-Coast Relay Walk end on the beach here where Lewis and Clark set up camp for a winter. Cannon Beach is more upscale than Seaside and more beautiful as well.
  • Astoria, OR is on the border of Washington where the Columbia River reaches the Pacific. The Megler Bridge from Astoria, OR to WA is about 4.5 miles long and has beautiful views in every direction!
  • Highway 101 pretty much follows the coast along the Southern WA coast. The only cities of any size are South Bend and Aberdeen. These towns are noted for the number of oysters removed from the Pacific but aren't especially scenic.
  • North of Aberdeen, there is just a lot of beautiful Pacific NW coastal scenery and one small town called Forks. North of there, I cut off Highway 101 as it turns East toward Port Angeles so I could reach the Strait of Juan de Fuca and go to Neah Bay, WA. I thought Neah Bay was the end of the road but I found out that there is a private road owned by the Mekah Indian Tribe that goes out to Cape Flattery. Cape Flattery is the ultimate NW corner of the continental United States. There is a hike through old growth forest to reach the corner but it IS the NW corner of the U. S. The Pacific Ocean is to the left, the island offshore with the Cape Flattery Lighthouse is straight in front of you and the Strait of Juan de Fuca leading to Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle and Tacoma in Puget Sound goes to the right. Before I headed East after 1500-1600 miles of heading almost due North, I saw some really unique scenery at Cape Flattery! Here is a sample of a pictures I took there and, yes, it's beautiful!

Cape Flattery, WA is the NW corner of the continental U. S.
  • The road from Cape Flattery to Port Angeles doesn't have any cities or development except for the small town of Neah Bay which I went through on the way to the end of the Cape. After Port Angeles, the one town between there and Port Townsend is called Sequim-pronounced Squim. It's noted for some weird meterological occurrence where there is a hole in the clouds. I know it sounds weird but it's said that Sequim is in the rainshadow of the Olympic Mountains. It receives only about 15 inches of rain a year which is far, far less than almost any place in the Pacific NW. Cute little town.
  • After Sequim, we're back to just beautiful scenic roads leading to Port Townsend. The Ferry from Port Townsend took me to Whidbey Island that has only a couple of really cute cities like Coupeville and Oak Harbor.
  • Over Deception Pass and I'm back to the mainland headed East toward Burlington and Sedro-Wooley, WA. The closest road to the Canadian border is U. S. 20 which goes through North Cascades National Park and very, very few towns for it seems like a couple of hundred miles. I was able to buy gasoline in either Okanogan or Omak, I can't remember which. These two little towns, along with Kettle Falls are hardly worth mentioning except for the beautiful scenery surrounding them. The roads along the U.S.-Canada border were wonderful to ride on a bike because they are very curvy and very mountaneous. The ride was constantly around curves and up and down mountains. It was along this section of Hiway 20 where I saw snow drifts on the side of the road about eight feet tall!
  • The only town of any size in ID was Sandpoint which sits on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille. It's a pretty place but I'm guessing oh-so-cold and snowy in the winter!
  • The first town in MT was Kalispell which looked like an interesting mountain town with all the outdoor activities-hiking, skiing, backpacking, exploring, etc-available almost right in the city limits. Kalispell also serves as the unofficial gateway to Glacier National Park. But . . . . . heading East from Glacier and Kalispell leads pretty quickly to the Great Plains and not much of anything for the next, oh, 800 to 1,000 miles! The towns across Northern MT are all small and mainly noted for their production and shipping of wheat! These include Shelby, Havre, Malta, Wolf Point but, like I said, there's not a lot out there except wheat fields!
  • ND took me through Williston to Minot where I saw all the flooding. I dropped South from Minot to avoid more floodinig and catch I-94 on the way to Fargo.
  • The only two MN cities that deserve any recognition are Brainerd and Duluth . . . . but for different reasons. Brainerd is where I encountered the small helicopter-sized mosquitos and Duluth was actually somewhat pleasant. Duluth was very hilly and has a semi-active maritime shipping facility. The ocean shipping through Duluth is, of course, limited to the times when Lake Superior isn't frozen over!
  • No cities come to mind across Northern WI and the Upper Peninsula of MI until I got to St. Ignace. I rode along the Northern shore of Lake Michigan but there aren't any cities there that are notable. The KOA at St. Ignace led me to Mackinac Island which was a joy. South from there to the Lower Peninsula of MI led me to the beginning of the rust belt. Bay City, Flint and Detroit are all cities that seem to be in serious economic decline.
  • South of Detroit around Lake Erie took me to Toledo, Sandusky and Cleveland, OH. MORE cities that have had their day!
  • There is a short segment of PA that touches Lake Erie and, of course, that's where Erie, PA is located.
  • A couple of cities along Lake Erie in NY were scenic: Westfield and Dunkirk. The problem then was that I had to go through Buffalo to reach Niagara Falls, NY. Another city in decline. Following Lake Ontario along the NY coast was pleasant and it took me to Rochester, NY. Rochester relied too much on the economic strength of Kodak, which has come and gone, but at least it isn't a rust-belt city. Just East of Rochester is where I altered my route to avoid the moose in upstate NY. On Hiway 20, I got to see the beautiful finger lakes on the way to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Due East from Cooperstown is Albany and Troy, NY. I camped behind an elementary school in Grafton, NY and crossed into VT.
  • VT is a pretty state! The only 2 cities I remember in VT were Benninton and Brattleboro further East on the NH border. Bennington has the look of the classic New England village but Brattleboro didn't do too much for me!
  • I headed NE up to Concord, NH for a photo op of the capitol building. From there, it was due North up to Franconia Notch and the White Mountains. I spent that night in Canaan, ME.
  • From the KOA in Canaan, I headed directly toward Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island. It's a pretty place in a different kind of way from the other coasts I'd seen. Very rocky but fiord-like inlets. South down the ME coast, and through all the cute little villages, to spend the night in Portland. South the next morning toward Boston took me to Kennebunk, ME, not to be confused with Kennebunkport! In retrospect, I should have left Hiway 1 and driven to Kennebunkport to see the Bush Family Home there but I was on my way home!
  • Through Portsmouth, NH and you're almost in the suburbs of Boston already!
  • Riding through Boston wasn't what I'd call a lot of fun because of the traffic but it was nice to head South of Boston on Hiways 3 and 6 toward P-Town on Cape Cod. There are several small, tourist-oriented towns along this route and they were all kinda cutesy. Provincetown is kind of a Carmel wannabe. It tries to pull off the Carmel look but it can't quite seem to get it done. Still an interesting place though! The next day took me to Fall River, MA on the way to Newport, RI.
  • Newport, RI-now THERE'S a city worth visiting again! The mansions along the coast ARE worth seeing!
  • Hiway 1 through CT (Mystic, Old London, New Lyme, etc.) were interesting New England fishing villages transforming into an economy based on tourism. Past New Haven to Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford and Greenwich the cuteness factor was gone and the look was more like the Northern suburbs of NYC. Not especially enjoyable!
  • AH, New York City! NYC is a wonderful city to AVOID on a motorcycle! The traffic, the signs, the other drivers and the condition of the roads all make me wish I had avoided NYC altogether. Fortunately, the ride through four of the five boroughs of NYC wasn't too long! Across another big bridge to Perth Amboy, NJ and onto the Garden State Parkway on the way to Atlantic City, NJ.
  • Heading South from NYC on the GS Parkway took me through several notable historical towns. All of the names elude me right now but the city where the Hindenberg crashed and burned, where Thomas Edison's lab was located, where Charles Lindberg's family lived when their son was kidnapped are along this route. Past Atlantic City are a number of small resort towns on the coast and barrier islands. These took me to Cape May, NJ to catch the ferry to Lewes, DE.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Epilogue-1 Day by Day Travels

This is the first of a series of three posts to record some final information about ALAA-2011. Generally, these posts will record many of the details of the trip, the feelings I had during that time, the impressions that were created, and some of the nuts and bolts of what went on during that time.


This first Epilogue post will list the places where I traveled each day, stayed each night and any unique memories of that place:


DAY 1, May 14-Left home in Kingwood, TX on Sat, May 14th, rode through Houston to Galveston Island, TX. From there, I rode along the Gulf of Mexico to Mustang Island State Park near Corpus Christi, TX. I camped on the beach there and that's where my tent blew away down the beach and over into the dunes!


DAY 2, May 15-Continued down the Gulf of Mexico to the Rio Grande Valley at the US-Mexico border and then rode along the US-Mexican border border to Laredo, TX. Camped at Casa Blanca State Park near Laredo, TX. It would have been a relatively short ride directly West from Corpus Christi to Laredo but I had the border to follow!


DAY 3, May 16-Followed the roads closest to the US-Mexican border to Big Bend National Park. I camped at the Chisos Basin campground at BBNP. The ride on this day was a day of riding through the desert! BBNP is desert mountains-beautiful in a stark way. There IS a whole lotta nothing out there!


DAY 4, May 17-Rode from BBNP to El Paso, TX. I stayed at a Motel 6 because the Motel 6 only cost $10 more than a campground. Got the bike serviced in El Paso and saw a lot of Ft. Bliss military around El Paso. A LOT more desert!

 DAY 5, May 18-Finally left Texas after four days at El Paso, rode across Southern New Mexico, and reached a campground between Douglas and Bisbee, AZ. Met an interesting guy named Wayne and enjoyed seeing Bisbee and Tombstone, AZ.


DAY 6, May 19-Rode from between Douglas and Bisbee, through Tombstone and Tucson to Yuma, AZ. A whole lotta more nothin'! Stayed in a Motel 6 because of the small $ difference in lodging cost. Had an In-and-Out Burger for lunch! :-) BUT lost my sunglasses in Yuma! :-(. What a dumb@#$!)



DAY 7, May 20-Rode from Yuma through San Diego to San Clemente, CA. Finally left the five days of desert and saw some beautiful scenery and TREES! Stayed at San Clemente State Park for my first night in the cereal state (Why the cereal state, you say? Well, it's full of fruits, nuts, and flakes! :-)). Enjoyed the campground because it's right above the beach and was lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves.
DAY 8, May 21-Rode from South of LA to North of LA. I met Ron, Harley, and Betty (!) Dixon today and had lunch with them at an In 'n Out Burger on Wilshire Boulevard in LA. Stayed at Malibu Creek State Park, in the hills above Pepperdine Univ, and enjoyed seeing what used to be the Fox Ranch-where the outdoor scenes of MASH were filmed (Okay, I AM a confirmed MASHophile!)


DAY 9, May 22-Rode up the beautiful CA coast on the Pacific Coast Highway-the PCH. Stayed at San Simeon State Park. Rode with Ron, Harley, and Betty to the Hearst Castle where they went on a tour and I found the state park. I ran into two motorcycle tourers from Canada that camped two campsites down from me at Big Bend National Park-quite a coincidence!


DAY 10, May 23-Loafed along the PCH enjoying the magnificent Big Sur scenery. Rode from San Simeon SP to Half Moon Bay SP south of San Francisco. Another campsite right on the ocean! The Big Sur scenery was the most beautiful of the entire trip! Absolutely magnificent scenery!


DAY 11, May 24-Rode from Half Moon Bay to Sonoma Coast SP. Ron, Harley, Betty, and I spent 4-5 hours in San Francisco-Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Cable Cars, and Chinatown-a beautiful city! Enjoyed running into Amy and Aaron Redelsberger, shared a chilidog, and enjoyed their hospitality. It was a rare and totally enjoyable coincidence that we were camping at the same state park on the same day and I chose to stop and grovel at their campsite!


DAY 12, May 25-From near Bodega Bay to Garberville was more of that magnificent CA coast scenery and included Redwoods National Park. Beautiful but WET! For the first time in my life, I rode my bike trough a TREE! Shared a two room suite with Ron, Harley, and Betty.


DAY 13, May 26-More wet from Garberville to a KOA near Bandon, OR. It was my first experience to stay in a KOA Kamping Kabin-stark but better than putting the tent up in the rain. Raining almost all day in Oregon-what a SHOCK!


DAY 14, May 27 -Rode the beautiful Oregon coast from near Bandon to the home of my all-time favorite student. She and her husband were gracious to let me spend two nights in their spare bedroom. Almost every location along the OR coast holds special memories  because we spent a lot of time there during those 10 years we lived in Portland and Gresham.


DAY 15, May 28-Rode from Tualatin, OR (a Portland suburb) to visit our (former) home, but now rental property, in Gresham, OR. We would have loved to be able to sell it when we moved to Kingwood but it's decline in value and the generally poor economic conditions in the Portland area made it practically impossible to sell. I stocked up on grub and rested for the first time in two weeks.


DAY 16, May 29-Rode from Tualatin back to the Oregon Coast, across the 4.5 mile long Megler bridge over the Columia River at Astoria, through Olympic National Park to Cape Flattery, WA. From the Northwest corner of the continental US, I rode along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Angeles, WA-stayed in a motel because of the wet weather and it was so late.


The 4.5 mile long Megler Bridge in Astoria, OR
DAY 17, May 30-Left Port Angeles, WA, took a ferry across Puget Sound from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island, rode across the San Juan Island's, through North Cascades National Park to my first boondocking experience. The snow was about eight feet deep at the height of the pass. Camped behind a LDS church in Republic, WA. Beautiful mountaineous scenery!


DAY 18, May 31-Rode from Republic, across Idaho, to Kalispell, MT. Stayed in a Motel 6 because of the rain and 38 degree temperatures. Not a lot of distance the last couple of days because of the curvey mountain roads!


DAY 19, June 1-From Kalispell, through Glacier National Park, to Malta, MT. Got a taste of boondocking in WA and did it again in a city park in Malta. A sheriff deputy told me it was okay though. From East Glacier, MT, the roads are straight and flat for, oh, about a THOUSAND miles!


DAY 20, June 2-Rode from Malta to Glasgow, MT where I had a new rear tire put on the bike. Rode a lot of miles all the way to Minot, ND because it's just cruising the Great Plains with a strong tailwind. The KOA where I had planned to camp was under 3-4 feet of water so I ended up sharing a campsite with two oil workers in a campground in Minot-more boondocking?


DAY 21, June 3-Rode from Minot, ND headed straight for Duluth on Hiway 2. HOWEVER, Hiway 2 was flooded just East of Minot so I had to drop down to Fargo to get to Duluth. Got as far as Brainerd, MN and almost got carried away by mosquitos. Stayed at Crow Wing State Park on the narrow Mississippi River.


DAY 22, June 4-Rode from Brainerd, through Duluth, to Marion Lake campground at Ottawa National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of MI. Was in this campground for 3-4 hours before and after setting up my tent and saw a TOTAL of one other vehicle in the entire campground! Beautiful lake, beautiful place, VERY quiet, but just a long way from anywhere! This was my first time in the UP-Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


DAY 23, June 5-Rode from Michigan, through Wisconsin again, and camped at a KOA in St. Ignace, MI. This is right on the border of Lakes Michigan and Huron. Saw a sign in the KOA office advertising ferries to Mackinac Island-where the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed. Hum, never thought of going there until now!


DAY 24, June 6-Rode from St. Ignace to a KOA Kampground near Flint, MI after spending a wonderful day exploring Mackinac Island by bicycle and foot. Mackinac Island is unique because motorized vehicles aren't allowed on the island! The whole island looks like a postcard!


Mackinac Island From the Ferry
DAY 25, June 7-A multi state day from Flint, through Detroit (a new front tire in Warren, MI-a suburb of Detroit!), across Toledo and Ohio, and all the way to Erie, PA. Saw huge segments of America's Rust Belt-Detroit, Toledo, and Cleveland. Got to spend a few hours with Charlie Strange, a SIFE graduate also known as Back Row Charlie.


DAY 26, June 8-Rode from Erie, PA to Rochester, NY. Planned to go beyond Rochester but the bike-or rather the battery on the Honda, died on me. Had a new battery installed and stayed in a motel in Rochester.


DAY 27, June 9-Left Rochester, spent an enjoyable 3-4 hours at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, and got as far as just past Albany/Troy to Grafton, NY near the VT border. Another night of boondocking behind the elementary school in Grafton, NY!


Day 28, June 10-Grafton, NY to Canaan, ME. Stayed in a nice quiet KOA. Bennington, VT is the quintessential New England city! More big mountains ner Mt. Washington in the White Mountains of NH.


Day 29, June 11th-Canaan, ME Eastward downhill to Acadia National Park and then to Portland, ME. Acadia NP is the NE corner of ALAA just like Imperial Beach, CA was the SW corner of the loop and Cape Flattery, WA was the NW corner. The right turn takes me from Eastbound to Southbound toward HOME! Raining cats and dogs, I stayed in a Roach Motel in Portland.


Day 30, June 12th-Portland, ME, through (or under!) Boston, to Pocasset, MA. After riding out on Cape Cod to Provincetown, I pitched my tent in the back of what I thought was an empty industrial facility. I found out at 5:00 AM the next morning that it wasn't empty when people starting arriving for work! I was outta there by 5:30 AM!


Day 31, June 13th-Pocasset, MA to Atlantic City, NJ. This was a LONG, hard day because it was my only five state day! Started in MA, went through Newport, RI, CN, New York City, and spent the night in a $25 motel in Atlantic City, NJ. I had plans to ride out to the East end of Long Island but the New York City traffic and road conditions convinced me to get the heck outta Dodge!


Day 32, June 14th-Atlantic City, NJ to Virginia Beach, VA. Enjoyed the Cape May Ferry to Lewes, DE. This was a four state day. Started in Atlantic City, NJ, went through DE, MD, and got to a KOA in VA near the Oceana Naval Air Station with LOUD jets taking off and landing until 1:00 AM!


Day 33, June 15th-Virginia Beach, VA to Moorhead City, NC. Enjoyed the the Outer Banks of NC and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, spent 3-4 hours at the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC, took two ferry rides, and got to Moorhead City in the dark-opted for a motel. Not a lot of miles but a lot of coastal beauty!


Day 34, June 16th-Moorhead City, NC to a KOA in Charleston, SC. Charleston is nice because it has that old town look it didn't have as much appeal as Savannah.


Day 35, June 17th-Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA. Savannah is worth visiting again! Savannah's strict architectural controls mean that Old Town Savannah keeps the looks from the 1800's. The "Squares" are as charming as I imagined they would be!


Day 36, June 18th-Savannah, GA to Starke, FL. Left the coast at San Augustine, FL and headed West for home! It was far too hot for camping so it was cheap motels the rest of the way home. Hot and humid. Today made the ALAA WAOF or Without All Of Florida! I was just tooooo lonely, tired, hungry and homesick to go up and down the coasts of Florida!


Day 37, June 19th-Starke, FL to Panama City Beach, FL. Beautiful scenery with white sand and turquoise water along the panhandle of FL. An old motel along the beautiful beach!


Day 38, June 20th-Panama City Beach, FL to Mobile, AL and a Motel6. I saw boiled peanuts for sale today! Boiled peanuts? Here is a picture of some of them-YUCK!


Boiled Peanuts? What's Up With THAT?
Day 39, June 21st-Mobile, AL to New Orleans, LA and another Motel 6. Spent 2-3 hours exploring the French Quarter although we've vacationed there 3-4 times and I've visited NO on business 5-6 times.


Day 40, June 22nd-New Orleans to Lafayette, LA. After visiting the Tabasco factory in New Iberia, LA, I spent three hours waiting for the rain to stop, or at least slow down. Another Motel 6 in Lafayette.


Day 41, June 23rd-Lafayette, LA to HOME! Don't feel well and anxious to get home! I feel like I've been "wandering" the U. S. for the last six weeks-rarely knowing where I'm going to sleep at night, never knowing when or where the next meal is coming from and not exactly sure which route I'm going to follow to get to wherever I'm going to go and . . . . . and I'm tired and ready to be HOME with my Bride!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 41 of ALAA-Thurs, June 23rd, 2011-From Lafayette, LA to HOME in Kingwood, TX

Today has been a joy! I've seen four really beautiful things and one that is absolutely spectacular! Number Five: I saw a sign near Orange, TX that read Welcome to Texas. Number Four: Another sign that read Kingwood-The Livable Forest. Number Three: The streetsign that read Riverlawn Dr. Number Two: I drove into our driveway. NUMBER ONE: This one doesn't compare to the others . . . . because it was when my Bride drove down our street into our driveway and our house became our home again!


Next comes the epilogue! I've been working on it in my (weak?) mind for a while and it's growing. I HOPE it's interesting!