I was sitting in front of the computer waiting for the Super Bowl to ignite the airways with all of its electronic hype before writing my column. Yes, I still love to watch our modern-day gladiators get down into a three-point stance and have at it. Oh, I won’t tell you that I’m not upset with some who would use their positions as overpaid athletes to choose to disrespect our flag or our national anthem by not showing it the respect it deserves. I guess I just enjoy watching football and that’s a right the flag gives me, so I’ll take advantage of it.
I was headed in a little different direction with my column this week, but as I started flipping through some things on social media I came across some of the great pictures from many of the wonderful adventures I’ve been on and the great folks I’ve shared my life with. That in itself brought a great smile to my face, especially seeing many of them I’ve taken with friends down here.
It makes me smile every time one of you mentions one or more of my writings that are in regard to the many motorcycle journeys I’ve taken. It was 2004 when my neighbor, Paul “Frenchie” Moreau, talked me into riding a motorcycle again. That was 16 years ago while sitting in his living room. I hadn’t ridden for 20-25 years, but when he explained to me that he was fighting cancer and needed someone to ride with, I couldn’t say no. You see, riding the bike gave him great pleasure, it was a way he could disconnect from the world and put the challenges he was undergoing behind him.
It was at that time that he introduced me to Paul Kane, one of the craziest, funniest and free–wheeling Irishman I’ve ever met. They left it to me to find a fourth because it was easier to travel and book rooms with four sharing the costs if we were to do some long trips
The fourth would be my friend Carmen, who at the time I never really knew very well, but that sixth sense we all have told me he would be a great addition. That, and after he slid his Sportster across the Chevron parking lot one night trying to show off. He jumped up, dusted himself off and said hello, I knew then I had found my fourth and we helped him to stand his bike back up.
None of my three companions had ever taken the car train from Sanford, Florida north to Washington D.C. Myself, having taken it a number of times with my company car I knew this would be a great adventure and should be a wonderful time for us all.
The week before we were to leave, I broke the news to them, and they couldn’t believe we’d be going on a train with our motorcycles. That was the beginning of many great adventures we’d share on the bikes together. We were like four little kids and had the time of our lives.
We left early in the morning on a Friday and made the trip up to Sanford. We’d pull into the station several hours ahead of time and picked up our tickets and got our seating for dinner. I had learned the second seating, not the first or third was best. However, I didn’t know they’d have a complimentary wine tasting in the club car. Two hours later, Carmen needed to take a long nap after a challenging walk back to our sleeper car as the train rocked back and forth on the rails.
We got off our train in Lorton, Virginia, just south of Washington and traveled east to Annapolis and onto the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia—an absolutely beautiful ride. We stayed that first evening just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. I’ve always flown by the seat of my pants in regard to lodging and I once again lucked out finding lodging just before the 23 miles of bridges and tunnels that would make up the next portion of our trip.
We had a good laugh that evening when we were served steaks with plastic utensils, but finally conquered our meal and headed back for a good night’s sleep before one of the most spectacular rides across and under that beautiful expanse of water.
We continued into Virginia Beach and stopped by the local Harley dealer there for the requisite overpriced T-shirt and then continued down the Outer-Banks of the Carolinas. Take that trip folks, it is a fantastic journey.
I simply fell in love with Ocracoke Island. It is a throwback into the past as it is as beautiful as it is rustic. The only way on and off that sliver of sand is by ferry. We stayed in a quaint old knotty pine motel across from a tavern that sat on the ocean. I highly recommend it; both the lodging and the tavern.
The ferry ride from Ocracoke to the mainland was as spectacular as the one from Hatteras to the Island, and from there we made our way to Wilmington, NC and eventually onto Myrtle Beach, and then the annual motorcycle rally there for the evening for our share of a huge seafood buffet which the area is famous for.
The shoreline of the Carolinas is absolutely beautiful, but we pushed off from Myrtle Beach and headed towards Charleston and another great ride down Rte. 17 and into Georgia, past Savannah, and then towards the Florida border.
It is always sad when you know you only have one additional day of riding ahead of you, but unfortunately for me as I type this, I know those days are done due to circumstances beyond my control.
For 14 years and countless miles that have taken me all over this great country from Florida to Nova Scotia, into South and North Dakota, across to the Alamo, up to the summit of Mount Washington in my home state of New Hampshire, to the edge of the Grand Canyon, across to the top of the Great Divide on Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado at just shy of 11,000 feet and to Key West and across the Florida Panhandle, I’ve had a great time and no regrets.
I was sad when “Frenchie” passed and “Irish” move back across the ocean. I’ll miss my rides with Carmen and the two short years with another friend Chuck Glogouski, but I will never miss the memories that have taken me so many wonderful places with such great friends.
No matter what you do, don’t forget to have some fun in life, for life itself is way too short and we’re getting too old to have regrets.