Friday, January 23, 2015

Motorcycle Ride to the National Corvette Museum

What red-blooded American male doesn't have admiration for the true American sports car the Corvette?  The National Corvette Museum is the only museum dedicated to one model of car.  That car being the Chevrolet Corvette, built since 1953 and now in its 7th generation. We have lived just a short 70-mile drive from the museum in Bowling Green for over 20 years now and have never been there.  We get a 56-degree day in January so we decide to make that ride.  Terri and I  break out the Motorcycles and hit the road.

From Clarksville, we head up highway 79 towards Russellville the Confederate Capital of Kentucky during the Civil War.   US Highway 79 is 2 lane bliss through Tennessee and Kentucky countryside.   In Russellville, we join the four lanes of US Highway 68 that take us to Bowling Green.  We have to take Highway 68 Business through Bowling Green to get to the Museum, that lies near Interstate 65 on no less Corvette Drive.

Before going into the Museum we eat at the Corvette Cafe that is decorated in the Corvette theme.  The food is ok but overpriced.  The long lobby by the entrance is filled with 2015 Corvettes that had been customer ordered.   The price to enter the Museum is $10 a person.  For military it is free and military retiree's pay $8 which is good for me personally.

The museum, of course, has all the models of corvettes on display.  It even has the, 1983 which there were only 22 test cars made. I particularly enjoyed seeing Roy Orbison's 1966 stingray.   There is a short film at the beginning of the self-guided tour that explains the history of the Corvette.  This care was built for American men that fell in love with European styled sports cars in Europe.  Care they saw during World War II while in Europe. Well the Corvette delivered.

Of course now you can't talk about the Corvette museum without talking about the sinkhole that swallowed up 8 cars.   Happening in February of 2014 the sinkhole and cars are now being repaired.   It was interesting seeing the cars that were damaged on display, even the ones that were awaiting repair. You can even view the repair of the sinkhole which is almost completed.

Well after the tour it was time to tear up the road back to the Clarksville.  It was a fun trip for both Terri and I,  It is always a rare chance to get out on the open road in January.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Snorkeling Puerto Rico: A Three day Trip to the Island of Culebra

Culebra the Island of my many dreams.   To me it is impossible for this Island to exist in this pristine state.  The shear lack of commercialism sets the heart back.  It seems to be locked into a vacuum of time and space.  Rarely have I experienced a place of such unadulterated beauty.  The Island of Culebra has yet to be invaded by the multibillion dollar resort culture.  Get there as soon as you can, because it won't last long.  I have heard that this place had some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean.  Guess what it turned out to be true.

Ryan with the Scooters
This is a trip that me and my son took in February of 2014.   He lives in Old San Juan and had been there on a trip with friends.  He told me, "Dad you have to go to this place."  So we go there for three days riding scooters to all parts of the Island.  In the process snorkelled 4 of the best beaches in the Caribbean.

Tamarindo Beach
General Description:  Isla Culebra the "Snake Island" is an island-municipality of Puerto Rico. It is located approximately 17 miles east of the Puerto Rican mainland, 12 miles  west of St. Thomas and 9 miles north of Vieques. Culebra is spread over 5 wards and Culebra Pueblo the downtown area which is the administrative center of the city.  We stayed for 3 days a short walk from the ferry terminal at a small local hotel called Posada La Hamaca in Pueblo.   The owner of the hotel gave us a short ride to the scooter rental company and we were off and running.

The island is also known as Isla Chiquita the "Little Island" and Ăšltima Virgen the "Last Virgin", reflecting its position at the end of the Virgin islands archipelago. Residents of the island are known as Culebrenses.  The island is approximately 7 by 5 miles, with a population of only 1800 and a land area of only 11 square miles.  All of this creates a little known gem in the Caribbean called Culebra.

Carlos Rosario's Beach 
Degree of Difficulty:  All 4 beaches are rated easy all the snorkelling is a short swim from each beach.  Most of the time starting the snorkel just after entering the water.

Grid Coordinates:  18.302179, -65.301866  The Ferry Terminal in Culebra Pueblo.

Maps:  Culebra US Topo 5964528

Map of Culebra Beaches
Finding the Island and the Beaches:    From San Juan take the north coastal highway #3 to Fajardo. Once in Fajardo turn left on to PR 195.  Follow the signs to the Ferry Terminal.   This terminal in Fajardo also services the Island of Vieques so make sure your ferry is going to Culebra. Look at the Culebra Ferry Schedule  for details. Don't get on the wrong ferry. 
Flamenco Beach

When you get off the ferry in Culebra get a map of the Island available at the many business where the ferry docks.  This a great resource for getting around the Island.  Another easy way to get around the island are cabs, which are inexpensive and short drives.  

Beach Overview:   We snorkeled 4 different beaches.   We traveled by rented scooters which added some edge to the trip.

Flamenco Beach:  This beach is on many top beaches in the world lists.  The east side along the rock jetty is one of the top snorkelling locations in the Caribbean if not the world.   PR 251 goes to the western part of the Island.  Follow this road to the very end and park in the parking lot.  

Carlos Rosario Beach and Tamarindo Beach:  These 2 beaches are a short walk from the Flamenco Beach Parking Lot.  Take the trail at the southwest end of the parking lot.  You will walk over the peninsula.  Once on the other side of the peninsula the trail will split.  To the right go to Carlos Rosario Beach.  To the left walk to Tamarindo Beach.   The trail is well marked and about a 1/2 mile round trip.   Enter the water anywhere along both of these beaches for fantastic snorkeling experiences. 

Melones Beach:  This beach is a short walk from town.  Follow the signs from Culebra Pueblo. Follow the beach side road along the hill from town.   There is a small parking lot at the end of the road.  Enter the water anywhere along the beach is a great place to swim with the fishes.   

Snorkeling Instructions:  What can I say?  Find the beaches get in the water and swim.  In Culebra its that simple.       

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Puerto Rico: A Visit to Parque Forestal La Maquesa

Just a short drive from San Juan is Parque Forestal La Marquesa a jungle eco-park on the tropical Island of Puerto Rico.  This park is fun for all ages.  We went to this park as a day trip after my sons wedding.  It is well worth the trip.To get there take Highway 1 from San Juan to Guaynabo.  Once there take PR 834 into the Mountains follow the signs to Parque Forestal La Marquesa.

Once there purchase your at tickets at park train stop near the parking area.  Make sure to get the english tour pamphlets.  Take the aerial gondola to the main exhibit area.   When traveling in the gondola you are just above the jungle canopy it offers excellent views of Jungle fauna and birds that occupy the park.

Once at the exhibit complex area there is a butterfly enclosure exhibit and a large walk through cage full of birds from both the park and the island of Puerto Rico.   There is also the Park Cafe located in the area.  Once at the Exhibit Area there are three options for a return to the car parking area.   You can take the Gondola back over the jungle, the small train that runs through the park which stop at various points of interest, or You can also hike on trails to each point of interest on the way back to the parking lot.

Some of the points of interest are a viewing tower where you have a great view of San Juan and the ocean and a small water fall. While in San Juan if you are in need of a short day trip, this fits the bill.