Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Riding the Devil's Triangle

With the sweat smell of fire-cured tobacco in the air, we are headed out to ride the Devil’s Triangle. I know that term has a different meaning to most Americans now but I promise this is just a motorcycle ride.

We have been wanting to do this ride for a long time and we finally got her done.  It was quite the adventure. In the middle of east Tennessee lies a wilderness area near Frozen Head State Park. This ride skirts the southern end of it.

We leave Clarksville for the 5 hour ride on Tennessee Highway 52 which is beautiful in its own right. You then take US 27 south to Wartburg.  In Wartburg its TN 62 east to the start of the Devil's Triangle on TN 116 North.  

It begins at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, which is now a Museum. The ride will take you up the side of Fork Mountain. Then switches back along the New River Highway which is part of TN 116.  You then take TN 330 south to Oliver Springs, where you will rejoin TN 62 to for the return trip to to Warburg.

After a full day of riding we stay the night in Wartburg and make our way back to Clarksville the next day. Tennessee Highway 116 will be one of the most challenging roads you'll ever ride.  If you don't feel alive after this ride you might want to check your pulse. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Clayton and his 52 Chevy Pickup

When riding back from East Tennessee we met a fella named Clayton Aldridge. He was 84 years young and had just finished restoring this 52 Chevy Pick-up. We had stopped to get gas in Clarkrange, at the intersection of TN62 and US127 on the plateau. I see this truck for sale and start looking at it.

 Then Clayton comes out of the gas station to give me his sales pitch. He told me that when he got this truck there was nothing but a cab and frame. It took him 2 years to restore, starting it when he was 82. I tell ya, if I had an extra 28k laying around I would have bought that truck. It is a beauty with a 327 power pack. 

Clayton was quite the character he said he raises some legendary fall curly leaf cabbage. He said he has 284 growing right now and that once you eat one of them you’ll never want a store bought cabbage again. He told me to come back by the middle of November and he would give me a couple. Every year he gives them away at the Clarkrange Girls basketball games of which he is an avid fan. 

So if you're interested in the truck; give Clayton a call. He has his eye on a 56 Chevy Belair which he wants to start working on.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

St Petersburg Russia

The whole reason for taking a 12 day Nordic Cruise was for these 2 days in St. Petersburg.  What can I say, it was one of the most fabulous cities we have ever been to.  Although we really enjoyed our time there, we did feel rushed and hurried for those 2 Days.   At the end of the day we were physically exhausted, but we saw lots of sites and felt that we were getting our money's worth.  It was worth it.  

Unless relations between the US and Russia improve, I don't know if we'll ever return.  The easiest way to visit Russia is on a Cruise or an organized Russia Travel Tour.  No independent travel if your not from a country that has Russian favored nation status. Currently, the US State Department even advises against travel to Russia.  American citizens are likely to get harassed by the police they say.  Although after being in Russia I can hardly believe it.

We did the thing that I hate the most, road a tour bus with about 40 other people.  In all, it really wasn't that bad.  Our guides were fabulous, beautiful Russian English teachers.  Anastasia and Katerina.   Then when they introduced the driver as Demtrie, that's when I started to wonder.  I have serious doubts that they were using their real names. The names seem a little bit too common, but when you lived in a society like Russia, it's probably best to blend in as much as possible.  So what did we see? Believe me, it's still a blur.

Day #1 The Petersburg inner-city

Our first stop was the Moika Palace or Yusupov Palace, it was once the primary residence of the House of Yusupov. The palace is where Grigori Rasputin's was murdered in the early morning of December 17, 1916. The palace contained wax figures depicting the murder.  Maybe it was a little hint of what would happen if tourist got out of line on the tour.  

Afterword, we took a cruise on the Neva River.  Petersburg actually sits on a river delta much like New Orleans.  From our boat, we could see many major sights along the river.  The Winter Palace which is also the Hermitage Museum, the Peter and Paul Church, and Fortress, the Cruiser Aurora, just to name a few.  For lunch, we stopped at a downtown restaurant for a traditional Russian meal.  After lunch it's was off to the Church of the Blood.  Probably one of the most recognizable sites in St. Petersburg, because of it's unique Medevil Russian Architecture.   

Our last stop of the day would be the Hermitage or what used to be called the Winter Palace that was stormed during the 1917 revolution. The shot heard around the world from Cruiser Aurora that started the revolution of 1917. Now a museum of both the palace and over 3 million pieces of art. It is the largest Museum in the world, with the 4th largest art collection in the world. This was an assault on the senses, overwhelming. They have Rembrandts last painting here in a Rembrandt wing. A couple of El Greco's and 2 Da Vinci's.  Originally, Catherine the Greats winter home. 

Day #2 Outer Petersburg: The Country Palaces

This day started with a 30 Kilometer bus trip outside the city on the newly construct M-10 Freeway.  Completed especially for the World Cup 2018.  Our destination is Catherines Summer Palace.  A palace that was complete gutted during World War 2 and then meticulously restored.  Famous for the gold that is on the chapel domes and the Gold accented facade and the Amber Room which some consider one of the 8 wonders of the modern world.

We then head to the Peterhof Palace with its magnificent fountains and seaside location.  Built by Peter the Great it is considered the Rusian Versailles.  It is famous for its water features and Gardens.  After the Peterhof, we stop for lunch at a country house that is across the street from Putin's Petersburg mansion, but nowhere near as nice as the palaces.

We then head back to Petersburg to visit Peter and Paul Chapel and Fortress.  Where the remains of the last Czar and his family are interned.  After being verified by DNA they were placed in this small chapel inside the fortress.  Our last stop is the Saint Isaacs Basilica which is the largest Orthodox Cathedral in the world and the 4th largest in the entire world.  It is a massive structure both inside and out. 

Once we get back to the Cruise ship we are delayed because some on the cruise went to see the Brazil and Ecuador World Cup Game.  It was special being in this city during the World Cup, sure the Hermitage was much more crowded because of this.  That didn't matter it was special seeing the world come together for an event that made this city electric and even more special to be in.