Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Big Tennessee Whitetail

After my sons' success last week, it was my turn this weekend to get a deer. It’s the biggest one I have ever harvested. An 8 or 9 point depending on the opinion of the odd horn and my first with a muzzleloader. Never seen so much activity. The 300-acre tract across the road from us was logged last spring, I think that drove the deer into the cover my place offers.  I have hunted with my muzzleloader for about 5 years now and never had much luck always getting my deer during gun season. We had some unusually cold weather this past week, which I think made a big difference also. 

To tell you the truth, I’m not much of a trophy hunter. I really don’t enjoy killing these majestic animals. I have spent more time watching them than shooting them. I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I understand our food supply chain, which is very cruel to the animals that we eat regularly.

This deer actually had a good life, and I’m sure he has left his prodigy walking around. There are more deer in the US than when Columbus landed. Plus, they taste so good. So I try to get 1 a year for the freezer. I might not even hunt if I weren’t a property owner. I feel it’s sort of an obligation to help keep the deer population down, which is a big problem in TN. Coming home, there must have been 5 Roadkill deer in the 50 miles I had to drive. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Walking the Secret City

In addition to riding motorcycles, we love to walk.  We are members of the American Volkssport Association.  It is America's walking club.  They have sanctioned walks all around the Nation, walks as close as Nashville, and as far away as Alaska.  It's a fun way to stay fit by building up Kilometers and getting awards for events.  Some walks you register online, others have a walk box at the start point, usually a business like a hotel or some other type of shop.  On this day, we are walking in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Oak Ridge Tennessee has a uniqueness to it.  If you know its history, it's easy to understand why.  It is home to America's Atomic Energy and Weapons programs.  Components for the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were built here, named the Manhatten Project.  Oak Ridge was created from nothing on the banks of the Chinch River in 1942.  It is currently home to the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  It includes the 1.4 Billion dollar project, the Spallation Neutron Source, and Titan, one of the world's largest supercomputers.

We are here to walk 5K's; the American Volkssport Association Secret City walk sponsored by the East Tennessee walkers.  It was perfect walking weather, low 70's with no humidity.  The walk box was located at the downtown Marriott.  The walk wanders through a very picturesque part of the City, through a park and past the Oak Ridge High School. 

The highlight of the walk was the AK Bissell Park, which contains the Friendship Bell.  Surrounded by a Japanese Garden.  The Bell was funded by American and Japanese corporations, individuals, and scientists to honor all those that served in World War 2.  It is meant as a spot to pray for peace and freedom.

Oak Ridge is just one of those places in America that should not be missed.  A symbol of American power and presence base on intellectuality brought about by science.  A city created straight out of American ingenuity.  Plus, it's a fun, beautiful place. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Galway Ireland a Pleasant Surprise

Galway on the western Irish coast is one of the most picturesque towns that I have ever been too.  Sitting on the River Corrib on Galway bay it basks in the light of a seaside village.  Usually, a jumping-off point to the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands, but Galway is special in its own right.  Know as the cultural center of Ireland.  It leans on its medieval Norman influences.  A University town with 2 significant schools that has a population of around 80,000 souls.

We take the train from Dublin to Galway, and we are there in around 2 hours.  When you leave the station, you walk out to Eyre Square, which contains John F. Kennedy Park.  During Kennedy's visit to Ireland, he gave a speech here, proudly proclaiming his Irish roots.  Believe me, the residents of Galway remember it to this day.

From here it is a short 5-minute walk to our hotel on Quay Street, which is a pedestrian-only street lined with bars and restaurants.   The Residence Hotel is a clean boutique hotel that is close to the harbor and all the action. This is party central, where Irish from the countryside come to dine and drink at the many fine establishments.  While here, we will visit the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands.  Then spend our nights in Galway walking its quaint streets and eating at its excellent restaurants.

One of our more rememberable dinners was a walk out of the old town through a typical Irish neighborhood to a seafood restaurant called Hooked.  I had read somewhere it was voted the best seafood restaurant in Galway.  This is all I needed to make the mile walk there.  A small, austere place with some great food.   On the way home, we walk by the Galway cathedral.

Our time in Galway was in complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of Dublin.  It had that small-town Irish feel to it, yet it simultaneously felt worldly.  From here, it's a bus ride to Cork, and as far as Ireland goes, a different universe.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Some Great Places in East Tennessee other than Gatlinburg

For a lot of people going to East Tennessee means going to Gatlinburg.  If you enjoy it, keep going, but personally, it not my vision of a vacation.  Although we are going there for the Christmas Parade in December, let’s say it wasn’t my idea. Sometimes you have to do things for the people that you love.

On a recent trip to East Tennessee, we visited some fantastic places.  These places might be a good change of pace and might even be more relaxing.  Just some words about the Tennessee State Park System, they have some great campgrounds, cabins, and sights to see.  All at a reasonable price.  We also completed 4 American Volkssport Association (AVA) 5 Kilometer walks, sponsored by the East Tennessee Wanders.  Click on the links for more information. 

Oak Ridge, Tennessee - The Secret City that was created in the middle of the Tennessee woods to jump-start the Manhattan Project. Established North of Knoxville to develop the nuclear weapons that were dropped on Japan and then develop America’s nuclear energy program.   Plenty of museums and parks devoted to those accomplishments. 

Rogersville, Tennessee - The second oldest town in Tennessee.  Davie Crockets' parents, who helped establish the city in 1775, are buried here.  Yes, that Davie Crockett who died at the Alamo.   The colonial downtown is on the National Historic Registry, contains the state's oldest post office and second oldest courthouse.

Seven Island State Birding Park - One of the newest additions to the State Park System.  Located at a bend on the French Broad River just east of Knoxville.  The trails on the bluffs have magnificent views of the Appalachian Mountains.   The paths drop down into the river flood plain and provide an excellent opportunity to view wildlife. 

Fort Louden State Park - Established by the British in 1756 during the 7-year war.   It was a crucial site in the organization of the Cherokee Indians, to help fight the French and the Creeks.  While walking through the recreated Fort, you can imagine the frontier life at the time.

Rock Island State Park - It has a great campground and cabins, but the show here are the waterfalls.  At the confluence of the Caney Fork and Collins Rivers where they spill into the Great Falls Gorge.  The first set of falls, the Great Falls is located below an old cotton mill.  The second falls, and the most magnificent, Twin Falls, was created when the Caney was dammed, forcing water through limestone caverns, creating a rush of water forced out of the side of the Gorge.  It is something to see.

We live in a beautiful and history-filled state.  Tennessee has a lot to offer, get out there and see it.  Plus, you only live once, and these things can’t be missed. 

Curtis Anderson, the Wandering Soldier, is a retired Army soldier who has a motorcycle addiction and loves to travel. Anderson and his wife, Terri, live in Clarksville. He can be contacted at www.thewanderingsoldier.com.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Toronto a Foodies Town

This last summer, we went to Toronto for different reasons; the Hockey Hall of Fame, the CN Tower, but what we discovered was something much different.  Even though we enjoyed these things to our surprise, Toronto has some great food.  I would say for a city its size some above-average food.  What was impressive was the quality and availability.  Everywhere we went, there was a good restaurant or coffee shop.  Heck, the downtown food court felt like a collection of high-end gourmet restaurants.

Part of the reason for this excellent food culture in Toronto that it has a European feel to it.  Like food in Europe, it feels fresh and locally sourced.  Driving into Canada, you do notice is the lack of billboards and the overall cleanliness.    If you can't go to Europe because you are afraid to fly, go to Canada.  Now back to the food because I'm getting hungry.

The food scene in Toronto is anchored by its two city markets, St. Lawrence and Kensington. St. Lawrence Market is the old English market in the city downtown.  This traditional indoor market in a large building screams English with its vibrant seafood, butcher shops, and bakeries.  Kensington Market, a bohemian collection of streets and shops west of Chinatown, is an eclectic collection of food and culture from all over the world.   All food on the planet has a residence at Kensington.  These two markets opposites in nature come together to drive the culinary culture in Toronto.

As for the meals, they still linger in my mind, like an out-of-body experience.  There was a vegan Chinese restaurant where the tofu tasted like steak.  The gourmet sandwich shop with the deli quality roast beef piled high.  The Smoked Fish with fresh bread and antipasto.  Then the numerous Chinese fusion/curry dishes that we had that were so unique.  It’s going to be hard to eat at an American Chinese Buffet after this for sure. 

So, get your passport and drive to Toronto and eat this food. You will be a better person for it, and your taste buds will thank you.  It must be done before you die; there are no excuses.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A Drive though the Heartland: Walking some Great Towns

When we visit Northern Wisconsin, where my mother lives, we like to take new roads.  We love the road less traveled.  This time we decided on a trip to Toronto, Canada, with a stop at Niagara Falls the highlight of our trip.

We had a lot of other stops before then and managed to walk 4 good American Volkssport Association (AMA) Year-Round Events (YRE).  Also, a YRE we walked in Toronto, Canada. These were places that we usually would have just drove by.  It was the walk that made us stop and take a look.  We live on a vast continent; everyone should get out to see it.

Washington, Missouri (YRE) - A fantastic Year-Round Event. A great town with the start point at an actually operating Train station. Just west of St. Louis it has an Amtrak stop.   After leaving Washington, Missouri, we ran across this by accident. Daniel Boone’s Burial site. Pretty cool stuff almost drove right past it.

Galena, Illinois -  There was not an AVA event here, but still a pleasant walk.  Grants home before and after the civil war. He only lived about 3 years in his new house in Galena. His National Campaign HQs was also here in Galena. This impressive town we caught it during the week and after the 4th so no real crowds. We had a great dinner at a German Restaurant.

A great Mississippi River Town. Grants wife was the first wife of a president to be called the First Lady of the land. Later shortened to First Lady. Twain and Grant were good friends, Twain was a big help to Grant in writing his autobiography, which saved his family from financial ruin.

Madison, Wisconsin (YRE) -  I have driven by madison at least 30 times.  It was good to find out what I've been missing. A great walk through the Wisconsin State Capital. Lots of Frank Loyd Wright Architecture. You walk down from the capitol building to the top of the convention center designed by FLW that directly overlooks the lake. Several great parks and lots of significant buildings.

Appleton, Wisconsin (YRE) - A walk thru the downtown and Lawrence University. Also by a Papermill, a Wisconsin staple as much as cheese. Also interesting the first-ever hydroelectric power station.

Manitowoc, Wisconsin (YRE) -  Before taking the Ferry over to Michigan, we walked Manitowoc, there was no walk box, but we registered online for the 5K.  We also went to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. Very interesting, there were 29 submarines manufactured here during WWII. The ferry ride was a hoot 4-hours across the lake on the SS Badger the only active coal-fired vessel in the US, a working national landmark.

Toronto, Ontario (Canadian YRE)- It was an incredible week in Toronto.  This is a foodie town lots of great restaurants.  Last day in Toronto, we did the Ontario Director’s Capital City Walk. We registered for this through the Canadian IVV web site. We had already walked a lot of this over the last 4 days that we’ve been here. It was good to see the Capital of Ontario, Toronto University, and we were surprised by a Netflix mini-series that’s being filmed downtown. They say the name is top secret and will make its Premiere in about a year.

Niagara Falls, Ontario-  On the way home it was a short stop at Niagra Falls there was another  Canadian YRE here, but we are ready to get back home.  So it was a quick tour of the falls, then a long drive home.

This was a great trip saw a lot of neat things the highlights were doing the walks and seeing Niagra Falls.  Thanks to the Canadian Volkssport Association for the ease of online registering for the Canadian marches. We will be back. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Col Sanders and Undiscovered Roads in Eastern Kentucky

There are a lot of excellent motorcycle roads to ride in east Kentucky. I have only scratched the surface there.  I’m the type of person that hates to ride the same route more than twice, I love to take the road lightly traveled.

So Terri and I decided to take a ride to Corbin Kentucky home of Col Sanders and the original Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Someone told me that they invented the chicken here, then came the egg.  When I was a kid in Oak Harbor, Washington, one of the only chain restaurants in town was the KFC on Pioneer Ave.  My Mom ever once in a while would bring home a bucket after work.  Even though today we rarely eat at KFC, it was good to see this historic site.  It started all here, where fast food was invented.

To get there, we take TN 52 to Red Boiling Springs.  Then TN56 up to Kentucky 100 to KY 90 to KY 92 across the Plateau to Corbin Kentucky.   These are some fantastic motorcycle roads that must be ridden with a shout out to KY100; this road is a must.

After the original KFC, Cumberland Falls was a bit of a letdown, but it was refreshing to see. Great riding on the Cumberland Plateau. This waterfall called the Niagra of the south is on the Cumberland River.  This river flows through Nashville and then Clarksville. All this water is making a slow journey to the Mississippi River.

 After the falls, we ride back to KY 90 to Whitley City to stay the night. Next morning KY 92 to 90, then come across to KY 163 back through Red Boiling Springs Tennessee.   Tennessee Highway 52 is a familiar way home.  In all, this was a challenging 2-day ride.  There are many great roads in Kentucky.  I want to ride every one of them.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Being a Millionaire in Poland

Yesterday was my last day at work for the summer.  Cleaning up my office a little bit and I found this old receipt folded up on a table.  It must have fallen out of a bin where I keep all my old travel logs while I was looking for something.

Well, to make a long story short it's from a family vacation that we took to Eastern Europe in 1994.  During the vacation, we took our Dodge Caravan and camped in most places, like outside of Prague,  then in Poland and Slovakia.  Around the halfway mark, we stayed in a Holiday Inn while in Krakow.  I remember this was just after we went to Auschwitz the concentration camp.  The cost on the receipt for a 2-night stay was 5,594,400  złoty.  The hotel was outside the city center set amongst old Soviet-style block housing.  We took cabs back and forth to the city center.

At the Polish border, I exchanged $100 for over a million zlotys. More bills than I could begin to fit in my wallet.  In 1994 visiting eastern Europe was still considered a little dicey.  The Soviets were still in the process of withdrawing from eastern Europe and the economy was in transition.  Most stores were the old Soviet-style where all the goods were behind the counter.  It was mostly a point and pay affair.  Krakow was a beautiful city not yet corrupted by tourism. As fate would have it we were there for the 1st annual Jewish Festival.

The whole trip we did not see another English speaking person, Lots of Germans and Dutch who spoke broken English.  It's interesting how something like this can trigger a memory.

For the complete story read; The Czech Republic, Poland, Krakow and Auschwitz (1994).

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Chattanooga, Charleston, Birmingham, and the Appalachian Mountains twice.

Nothing like an 1800 mile motorcycle ride to clear out the cobwebs. Chattanooga, Charleston, Birmingham, and the Appalachian Mountains twice.  The first step riding to Chattanooga.  I've been on this stretch of road a dozen times. It never gets old.  Climbing the plateau then dropping into the backside of Chattanooga is my favorite route there.  This is my first stop to see my younger Son and Daughter-in-law.  Tomorrow my son and I will ride down to Birmingham and back to visit Barbers Motorsports Museum.

To Barbers, we road 367 miles there and back, alongside the Cumberland Plateau that runs down to Birmingham along the Tennessee River. Starting in Chattanooga we road thru 4 states in about 40 minutes. First Tennessee, Georgia, back into Tennessee, then into Alabama. For any gear head, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is a must. A great ride there and back. Tomorrow will be the start of my long trek to Charleston.

After leaving Chattanooga the cool air of the Shenandoah was refreshing. Getting ready to cross over the Appalachian Mountains into North Carolina, Georgia, then South Carolina. Going to Charleston to fly kites with my Grandkids on the beach.

Well, it was another long day but well worth it. Rode a lot of roads for the first time today. Took Bootlegger 28 out of the Mountains it is a very technical motorcycle ride. Used to be the preferred moonshine running route out of the Mountains of North Carolina. When you start in Franklin NC, it says sharp curves and limited shoulders for the next 40 miles. Towards the end I was asking myself will this road ever fricken straighten out.

It does then the heat hits me, 3 hours running on South Carolina 28 through Pine tree farms in 90 plus heat. Can anyone say blast furnace? Sitting in front of my Hotel Air Conditioning will be nice.  Aiken, Aiken, Aiken; I love this town. I road 350 miles from Chattanooga today. Parked my Motorcycle at a great downtown hotel, The Hotel Aiken. I now have a choice of Restaurants to walk too, in a very eclectic place that you don’t find very often in the south. 

Got up early and beat the heat into Charleston. Its a nice straight stretch on US 78 from Aiken. No motorcycle for a few days, it’s out of heat tucked away in my son's garage resting. How does the song go? Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses (Harley Davidson). In this case some carnauba wax. Eating lunch watching hummingbirds in the backyard while Grace took the kids to a doctor appointment.  Life is good.

After a few days in Charleston, on the beach and at the pool with my grandkids.  Its time to make my way back to Tennessee. Up early and on the road by 6AM to beat the heat to Spartanburg and the mountains. A quick blast through the coastal plain and the sandhills.  Then spent the rest of the day on South Carolina 11 and crossing over Appalachia Mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  These are some of the best motorcycle roads in the country.  I make it to my hotel in Maryville Tennessee shortly before dark, the last push home is tomorrow.

The final day was just a short 200-mile blast from south Knoxville on Interstate 40. I usually don’t like riding on the interstate but today it was kind of fun, especially on the plateau. When I closed on Nashville you could feel the city heat Island build. When the traffic went from 2 lanes to 6 it got kind of crazy. It was like the movie The Matrix, everything seemed to slow down even at 80 miles an hour. You could actually predict what the cars were going to do next. On a motorcycle, your senses are heightened. You don’t get that riding in a cage. It's good to be home.  Now, I got to go cut my yard that has become a jungle.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Ride to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

My son and I road 367 miles alongside the plateau that runs down to Birmingham.  Then along the Tennessee River. Starting in Chattanooga we road thru 4 states in about 40 minutes. First Tennessee, Georgia, back into Tennessee, then into Alabama. There were some awesome roads along the way.  For any gear head, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is a must.

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is not only the largest motorcycle museum in the world it also has the largest collection of Lotus sports car.   The Museum brought back a lot of memories.  Plus it was a great ride there and back.

My first motorcycle a 1965 Honda Cub. I remember Dad paying $50 for it. I road in the back of the truck with it after we picked it up. It is actually the most-produced motorcycle in history. With over 60 million units being made. I road this all over the Island that I grew up on in the Pacific Northwest. I used a football helmet with a face mask as headgear. Sometimes with a .22 rifle slung over my shoulder. I must have been quite the sight at 9, 10 years old in 1969 -70.

From there, I moved up to a Yamaha Enduro which I bought from my neighbor Mr. Pitchford. I used to help him work on old tractors during the summer. That kept me out of some trouble I guess. Every once in awhile I’d ride on roads I wasn’t supposed too. Coming across a sheriff deputy every so often. A couple of times they turned their blue lights on and chase me back into the woods. Now that was fun.

These memories are why I continue to ride today.  This was a special ride because I got to do it with my son. It was great talking about all the motorcycles that I rode as a kid.  Sharing those memories with him was special.   So get down to Barbers and relive those memories.  It will be unforgettable.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Ride to Evansville: New Roads in Kentucky

I have been riding roads here in Tennessee ever since 1991.  It feels like I have ridden every motorcycle road here to include a trip to all 95 Tennessee Counties.  So we decided to push north for some undiscovered adventures in Kentucky.  Why haven't we done this sooner? Well, I guess because its Kentucky.  I'm not a big fan of that Kentucky blue, it looks like I'll have to get used to it.   So we decide to take the back roads to Evansville Indiana. We weren't disappointed.

From Clarksville, we head North on Highway 41 crossing into Kentucky below Hopkinsville. From there we take Kentucky State Route 91 (the original Trail of Tears Route) to Princeton where we take KY 139/143 to KY 109. We just keep heading north past Sturgis Kentucky until we get to KY 56 west which takes you to the Shawnee Town River crossing.

The ride through Kentucky has many curves, they are real virgin motorcycle roads.  We cross the Ohio River on a magnificent 2 lane bridge that stretches hundreds of feet above the river.  It feels like your flying over the river.  If it were a little closer to lunch, we would have stopped at Nates Bar and Grill right on the river.  Maybe next time.

Once we get to Shawnee Town, the topography changes from rolling hills to midwestern plains which has its own unique beauty.  We take Illionios Route 11 to 62 east before crossing into Indiana then arriving in Evansville.  We pass through Mount Vernon, Indiana, which is another historic location.

We booked a night at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.  I'm not a gambler, but the hotel is beautiful and inexpensive on a weekday.   A big plus is the safe indoor motorcycle parking.  Its sort of a 4-star hotel at 2-star prices during the week.   If you're not a fan of the restaurants on site, It's just a couple block to all restaurants in the downtown.   We eat at Angelo's a Traditional Italian restaurant that was out of this world, it was one of those restaurants that you'd like to live by so you could eat there a couple of times a week.

The next day we get up early to beat the heat and the pop-up thunderstorms for the ride home, which is a combination of more great motorcycle roads.  It was a great trip. I'm sure one we'll be repeating.