Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chasing Tennessee Counties: Following the Cumberland River East

Well it's time to ride some more Tennessee County seats.  I love to ride my motorcycle, throw in great scenery, it simply becomes extraordinary.  One of the most underestimate places in the country, middle eastern Tennessee, where the Cumberland River flows out of the Plateau.  The hills and river create a outstanding backdrop for some of the best riding on the planet.

The world feels new again as we head out of Clarksville after a early morning spring rain.  .  We make our way east and get to Gallatin on Highway 25 a great motorcycle road.  We have lunch in the Sumner County square at across from the Courthouse.  It was a nice surprise to find a genuine Cajun restaurant called Crescent City Po Boys.  This place is worth a trip all by itself.  After some gumbo and a Oyster Po Boy it was time to ride.

We make our way to Hartsville then turn towards Lafayette riding north on Highway 10.  This road is simply a religious experience. We take big fast sweeping turns through rounded hills as we make our way to our destination.   Once in Lafayette we take Highway 52 to our evening destination of Red Boiling Springs.

Our first stop is the Springs is Cyclemos Motorcycle Museum and Restoration Center.   This place was awesome, it was great to look at the old Harleys.  The real treat was watching a restoration in progress.  The shop is part of the museum.  It was fun talking to the restorers and getting to ask questions about the old bikes.  While we were there they were working on a 32 flat head with a suicide shift, an old Chicago police bike.

After touring the museum we go right next door to our Bed and Breakfast The Armour's Hotel a hotel from days long past.  When Red Boiling Spring was a vacation mecca for Nashville due to the soothing waters of the natural springs. Red Boiling Red Springs had everything; over 22 hotels, a gambling hall, even a house of ill repute called nickel hill.   The hotel had incredible rooms and common areas.  We ate both dinner and breakfest at the hotel and it was in very good restaurant quality food served family style,  The great part about a bed and breakfast are the people that you meet.  From the maintenance man working on the Hotel to the city planner from Indianapolis.

After checking in we take a short ride to Celina TN to pick up another county for the HOG chapters presidents challenge.  On the way back we come across Doyle's Iris Patch.  Imagine a 2 acer of flowers.  Doyle's retirement project is something else.

Well back to the Hotel for the night.  Then after breakfast we ride to three more county seats; Gainsboro, Carthage, and Lebanon.  Between Gainsboro, and Carthage we ride on Highway 85 which is Tennessee's version of tail of the dragon.  After Lebanon we take Highway 109 back to Gatlin and rejoin Highway 25 for the trip home.  It turned out to be a fantastic trip notching 6 more counties in our quest to ride all of Tennessee.  With middle eastern Tennessee exposed we just hope the secret doesn't get out there to much.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Doyle Smith's Iris Patch

You'll never know what your going to ride up on when on a motorcycle in Tennessee.  It became a special day when we came upon Doyle Smiths Iris patch.  Terri and I pull up into the driveway of the farm where this was at, I asked who is responsible for all of this. Doyle responded with it was completely all of my doing.

I would like to think that there is a special place in heaven for people that bring beauty to the world. If this is the case Doyle Smith has earned himself a first class ticket.
If you are on a trip near Red Boiling Springs you must take highway 56 east of town.  You will find Doyle in the spring near mothers day tending his patch of blooming Iris's on Bennett Road.  Stop in and say hi, enjoy the beauty that he has created.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Snorkeling Puerto Rico: Playa Punta Salinas

Snorkeling Puerto Rico: Playa Punta Salinas

This was a great trip with my son. Probably the last snorkel trip we will do in Puerto Rico together for a while since he is being transferred to Seattle. This was a special trip to visit my new grandson. I do hope the three of us will some day snorkel together in Puerto Rico. It was good to get out with Ryan for a few hours to snorkel and visit a new beach in this country that I love so much.

General Description: Playa Punta Salinas is great Swim Beach close to San Juan is a managed beach in the Puerto Rico Park system.

Degree of Difficulty: Moderate - There was a strong current it would be better to Snorkel this location at slack tide. Although you can snorkel along the rock retaining wall anytime.

Grid Coordinates: 18.472380, -66.185849

Maps: Bayamon Topo USGS 5964440

Finding the Beach: From San Juan take Highway 22 towards Dorado. Take the Highway 165 exit towards Canato. Once passing through Levitown the beach entrance will be on the right.

Beach Overview: This was a great beach. I wish we could have spent a little more time there. It seemed like a local family place that was safe and clean, a place to have a family barbecue. We went there to do a quick snorkel, it was a fun day snorkeling with Ryan.

Fees: Motorcycles $2.00, Autos $ 3.00, Mini-van $ 4.00, buses $ 5.00

Snorkeling Instructions: Once getting there go to the far north side of the beach. There is a rock tidal wall that stops the current from affecting the roped in and buoyed beach. Enter the water outside the northern beach boundary. Follow the rock wall out to the point you will see plenty of fish near the point. Once passing the point the current will push back to the beach. Like a roller coaster, you will swim around back to the point which the current will once again grab you and send you to the beach. It is a heck of a ride.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Snorkeling Puerto Rico: Trip to the Icacos Islands

Guided Snorkel Trip to the Icacos Island 

General Description:  Rarely in life are things as good as they describe.  This snorkel trip exceeded all my expectations.  This trip to Puerto Rico was a little different than the ones in the past.  I had a new grandson to visit.  So I made a quick 5-day trip back to this Island I love so much.  While here I decided to book a snorkel day trip with pickup from my Old San Juan Location.  So with a simple internet search Snorkel Trips from San Juan, this is what I came up with.  A guided Snorkel Trip on a Catamaran called Barefoot.

My Pick up point was the old town Sheraton, a short 2 block walk from my son's apartment.  My pick up time was at 0745.  I arrived at 0730, and the bus driver was there waiting for me.  After visiting 5 or 6 other hotels for to pickup other customers, we make our way to Fajardo.  Which is about a 40-minute ride to the Marina where our catamaran the Barefoot was located.

The Crew was friendly and informative,  The crowd was the usual tourist assortment.   Once the quick safety briefing was completed we set sail to Icacos, a small set of Islands off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico.

Our first stop was Lobos (Wolf) Reef.  There were not a lot of swimmers on this trip.  Most were there to drink rum punches and pianolas on the boat. So I made the lone 100-meter swim to the Reef.   As soon as I enter the water, there was a large school of tuna below the boat. The water was crisp and clear.  As I swam out to the reef the amount of fish increased.  Once getting there was some storm damage to the windward side of the reef.  It was an excellent swim; many fish and coral.

After Snorkeling they served an incredible lunch with many drinks of choice.

Degree of Difficulty: Easy

Grid Coordinates:18.377617, -65.570713

Maps: Cayo Icacos US Topo

Finding the Beach:  Let the Barefoot catamaran take you there.  Swim for your lunch.  A great set of Islands off Puerto Rico's eastern coast.

Beach Overview:  Lobos Reef is an incredible Reef in the Icacos Island Chain.  After snorkeling for a couple of hours we made our way over to the small Island of Palominitos.  The crew beached the boat so we could enjoy the beach and walk around the island.  Supposedly many movies and a Microsoft screen saver were photographed here.  It was an amazing place and a amazing time.

Snorkeling Instructions: The boat anchored about a 100 meters north of Lobos Reef.   Once swimming to the reef it ran perpendicular to shore, parallel to the boat.  Between the boat and the reef was a rock outcrop.  The rock out crop was a natural fish attractor with hundreds of fish swimming above and circling the reef.