Wednesday, December 30, 2015

10 Days in the United Arab Emirates

These are my thoughts on spending 10 days in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  It was the first time I had taken a trip this long and never ran across another American. In 10 days of no Americanism, getting a different perspective on the world was refreshing.  Sort of a vacation from hubris. 

Seeing the largest building in the world and riding an ultra-modern public transportation system in the world's most modern city was amazing; these are no longer in America.  We have fallen behind the rest of the world in many different ways. 

All people are basically the same; we all want the same things in life, to love and be loved.  That our children have a better life in security, free from turmoil and worry.  Whether it be the Arab Sheikh I met at the Sheraton Bar in Dubai or the laundry turn-in worker in Afghanistan whom I'd discovered never seen an aspirin.

I met the coolest people on this trip.  The Fabric buyer from Canada, The Arab Beer distributor, told me about his trip to the Budweiser Headquarters in St. Louis.  The Dutch couple stopped for a couple days to shop in Dubai before heading to South Africa on Holiday.  A group of Harley Riders in the western desert at their club convention.  They could have been bikers you'd meet at Sturgis, except they were Arabs and Muslims.  The Arab Sheikh from Saudi Arabia came to Dubai while his wife and Daughter were visiting his son, who was attending the University of Southern California.  I will remember his stories of him hunting with his $400K Falcon in Pakistan for the rest of my life.  He was getting ready to tear up the town Vegas Style with his boys.  

People are People wherever you go.  They're proud and like to boast about their things, the accomplishments of their children.  We all share the same humanity regardless of religion.   It is an amazing world that we live in.

After spending 5 days in Dubai, we rented a car and drove through the eastern desert to the Indian Ocean.  Our hotel was full of Russian, none that spoke English.  But they were fun to be with; you never saw whiter people in the desert.  This was a great eye-opening trip.   I recommend this trip to any American wishing to see a completely different part of the world.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Trip to the Old Homestead

Here we are sitting in the Seatac Airport waiting to fly home to Nashville. I just visited the Sub Pop store at the airport and I'm listening to Teen Spirit on my headphones my trip is complete.  Sub Pop the Record Label responsible for the Seattle Grunge revolution.  And Teen Spirt we all know what that started.

I had reservations traveling back to Washington State my childhood home.  I had said I never planned to go back after my father died and we spread his ashes over Deception Pass near my home town of Oak Harbor Washington.   I was completely done with this place been here done that got the T-shirt. But since my son and his family now live in Everett, I now have a new reason to visit the Pacific Northwest.

My idyllic childhood and adolescence would be hard to duplicate anywhere else.  Filled with cars, girls, partying, snow skis,  and of course fishing.  Both commercial and sport; Salmon and Trout.  Sometimes a single fish; sometimes a boatload or hundreds of fish; on occasion thousands of fish.

The saying is true one can never go home again.  Home isn't really a place but more of a place in time.  One can never travel back home and expect it to be the same, but sometimes it can be even better than it was before.  It was great to see our grandson a new generation and all the hope and promise that lies inside him.  

So next summer I plan to return again and do it right.  Do it even better on motorcycles and in the light of maturity.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Fast Ride Home: From Eastern Tennessee through Kentucky and the Cumberland Gap

Probably the best-kept secret in the world of road building is the Kentucky Parkway System.  This series of freeways are some of the best built and least congested roads that I have ridden.   Living 6 miles from the Kentucky border in Tennessee I have had the chance to travel these great roads

After a long day of riding country roads in Eastern Tennessee on The Tennessee Lost Highways, we decide to head home through the Cumberland Gap.  In Tazewell Tennessee, we turn onto US Highway 25E to make a run to the Kentucky border and the Gap.   As you approach the gap, you notice the hazardous cargo warning signs for the tunnel that takes you through the mountain into Kentucky and to the town of Middleboro.

On US 25E the wall of Mountains comes at you fast.  Then before you know it, you are in them with the echo of your bike filling the tunnel.  On the other side is Middleboro once leaving the Tunnel the road follows the mountainous river valley.  Its long sweeping fast turns that make it a joy to ride.  We join another group of bikers as we make our way to Corbin Kentucky.  In the group running 75-80 the towns of Pineville, Flat Lick and Bourbonville melt away under the rubber of our two wheels. The rush is incredible.

Once in Corbin we lose the group and connect with I75 for a short run to London Kentucky.  There we jump on Kentucky Highway 80, that takes us to Somerset and the Cumberland Parkway.  The Cumberland Parkway is a long lonely road.  It is as good as any freeway enabling us to run 80-85 all the way to Bowling Green.

As the sunsets, we stop at a Wendy's for a quick dinner.  Then the final push back to Clarksville ending over 12 hours on Motorcycles and fantastic ride through Tennessee and Kentucky.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Riding Tennessee Counties: A Small Sample of the Best Motorcycle Roads in Tennessee

Here is a collection of roads that I have ridden as part of the Harley-Davidson Directors Challenge. The challenge was to ride as many Tennessee Counties as possible.  I have completed all 95 Tennessee Counties throughout the last, spring, summer, and fall. Here is a small sample of the best roads between the Mississippi River and Chattanooga.  These roads are a must to achieve Motorcycle Nirvana in Tennessee.

Tennessee Highway 56 and 85: From Red Boiling Springs to Carthage

Red Boiling Springs is in the heart of the Cumberland Plateau foothills you would be hard pressed to find better motorcycle roads anywhere in the nation.  These winding roads alternate between farmland, hills, and rivers. Strap it on because you are going to feel these corners.  We had just stayed the night in 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. Hum, I wonder what cost a nickel?   The hotel had incredible rooms and common areas.   We leave Red Boiling Springs on Highway 56 headed towards Gainesboro.  After crossing the Cumberland River we jump on Highway 85 and head to Carthage.   We eventually make it back to Clarksville, after a great ride through the heartland of Tennessee.

US Highway 64:  From Bolivar to Pulaski

Another ride in West Tennessee.  This is civil war country with the Battle of Shiloh happening close by.  We start out in Bolivar after a night in Magnolia Manner.  A Bed and Breakfast where Grant and Sherman actually planned the battle of Shiloh.  If you are into history you need to stay here.  It was interesting hearing the owner Tom Cox tell stories about the house.  This ride was all on Highway 64 through some of the best country west Tennessee has to offer.   We make it to Adamsville in no time, the famous home of Buford Pusser, giving us the famed Walking Talk story.   It is a short ride after that to Pulaski and the turn northward towards Clarksville for the completion of another great ride through the State of Tennessee.

Tennessee Highway 82 and 50:  From Shelbyville to Fayetteville via Lynchburg

The Tennessee Whiskey Trail we leave Shelbyville in the heart of lower middle Tennessee on Highway 82 this road dives south into the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau.  The rolling hills and shaded roadways deliver a great riding experience.   Well, you know Lynchburg world famous for Jack Daniels Whiskey.  I have been here many of time, and the downtown has completed it's tourist catering transformation.   The downtown is within walking distance of the distillery and if you haven't you should take the tour.   We have lunch at the Iron Kettle a great cafe on the town square. Then we are off to Fayetteville a great little town on the Alabama Boarder across from Huntsville, Alabama.

Alternate US Highway 41 and Interstate 24: From Winchester to Jasper  

We head out of Winchester to climb the Plataea on US Highway 41.  We ride a series of switchback road to a climb on to the elevated plain that runs through middle and eastern Tennessee.  The Plateau contains the soul of Tennessee locked into a different time it has really yet to be discovered.   It has some of the best motorcycle roads in the state.  Once on the Plateau, we reach Monteagle.  Normally I don't like riding on the interstate, but the stretch of I 24 between Monteagle and the Jasper exit is breathtaking.  Here the interstate cuts through the Plateau that descends down its eastern slope into the Sequatchie River Valley. There are some great views of the valley below.  Once off the interstate, we make the short ride on Tennessee 28 to Jasper.

US Highway 127 From Dunlap to Chattanooga 

I have ridden this road to Chattanooga from Dunlap many times, and it never disappoints.  When you leave Dunlap on US Highway 127, you climb up and over Signal Mountain.   The winding road up the mountain gives you spectacular views of the Sequatchie Valley below. it is about a 15-minute ride to the town of Signal Mountain.  After passing through the town, you descend into the Tennessee River valley near North Chattanooga.  You will pass the famous Flying Saucer House that was recently sold at auction.  The views from this road are fabulous.  I love Chattanooga it is a great place with so much to do and see.

Tennessee Highway 27, 108 and 56: From Chattanooga to McMinnville

Heading home to Clarksville we decide to take a new road that cuts a different path through the Cumberland Plateau.   Highway 27 runs along the north bank of the Tennessee River then makes a climb up Signal Mountain at what the locals call Suck Creek a local swim hole.  We then drop into the Sequatchie Valley.  There we join 108 for the climb up Plateau on the way to Altamont the county seat of Grundy County.   This is near the  South Cumberland State Park  which has some of the best scenic beauty in the state of Tennessee.  At Altamont we catch Tennessee Highway 56, passing through Beersheba Springs near the Savage Gulf Natural Area it is an incredible descent off of the Plateau into the Collins River Valley.   The road is incredible all the way to McMinnville, a river valley surrounded the Plateau bluffs.   This is a great route through plateau country.

These are some of the greatest roads in Tennessee, but there are many more.  So get out there and ride them.  You won't be sorry.