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.