Friday, December 31, 2010

Bring on 2011!

Wishing you safe travels and good times with good friends in 2011. Where are you hoping to ride to this year?  Sturgis is on my list...fingers crossed!

Park it if your gonna drink it!
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Excuse me, sir... you came to Canada for lunch??

Guest Blogger TomV

Friends who know me best, know that my love for riding can take me to extremes. For example, this past summer vacation on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH, I decided that my search for a new lunch spot could not be restricted by international boundaries. Canada for lunch, eh? Why the hell not? I took French in high school (thinking France would someday invade the US proving to be better choice than Spanish). I did bring my passport as this was actually something I thought I might do while on my summer holiday, and honestly, you never know when you might need to flee the country in a hurry, so it comes with me. 

Risking delays crossing the border (not to mention a full body cavity search), I ventured out to the “Great White North” for a little lunch and perhaps an international incident.
My ride took me due north into the White Mountains, past North Conway and through Pinkham Notch which is a mountain pass between Mt Washington and Wildcat Mountain. The ride was breathtaking but very cold, even in late July. The early morning air, driving through elevations over 2000 ft above sea level, was so cold, my nipples could've cut a diamond in half.

An hour or so later, I passed through Dixville Notch, NH.  This small village of 75 residents is famous for being the first place in the nation where ballots are counted for Presidential Elections. Since 1960, all eligible voters gather at midnight in the Grand Ballroom of the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel to cast their votes.  It was a spectacular sight riding through the notch and then coming down the hill where you get this view of the Balsams Resort.

Next stop….the border crossing at East Hereford, Quebec and Beecher Falls VT.
I was feeling a little nervous approaching the guard shack but really expected that getting into Canada would be the easy part, and that getting back in to the states would be the more difficult crossing. WRONG! First of all, I was the only vehicle in sight and I think they were a little bored. Then Frenchy starts asking me questions like (insert French accent here) “what is you purpose for veesiting ?“ and “how long will you be staying, eh”? Apparently he found my answer a bit suspicious “just here for lunch and a few brewskys”.  Was this a first for him? I must've really ruffled his Canadians Jersey when I then asked for a recommendation for a good place to grab a bite. Without responding, he grabbed my passport, pointed to a parking area and grunted, “go wait there”. Was it something I said??

After 20 minutes of nothing, I became very nervous and wondered, “What the hell was I thinking?” Eventually, the guard comes out and asks me if I have ever been before a judge and asks for my driver’s license, claiming that “zee computer ees going un leettle slow”. 'Ummmm,', I answer. He indicated he would be just a few more minutes. Pretty sure they were just messing with me...zee Ugly American...and at one point, I swear I heard the unmistakable “SNAP” of a rubber glove. Being well into my forties, I know that sound all too well and my sphincter immediately clinched tighter than a Bull Frog’s ass.

FINALLY, 30 minutes later, he not only let me go but he pointed me towards the town of Coaticook, where, he said, I would be able to obtain what I had gone to such great lengths to find. The Holy Grail (a/k/a a Bud Light) was suddenly within reach.

Freed from the border, the landscape instantly changed...the signs were different, the terrain was new and dairy farms littered the country side. I rode for about an hour and when I got into town, it did not take long to find my lunch spot, Ailluers Resto-Bar. 

The bartender was very friendly and we were somehow able to communicate between her broken English, my high school French and even a little Pantomime. I had Pizza and hot wings since I could not read the menu and as my friends also know, when it comes to food, I don’t experiment. No snails for this cowpoke.  Although the food was pretty good, I really did not have a lot of time to enjoy my lunch as I was suddenly thinking  how hard it could be to get back to my beloved States.

So I started my venture back but took a different route. I used route 147 and crossed the border between Stanhope, Quebec and Norton, VT. Unlike my first crossing, this check point had several cars and trucks ahead of me so I prepared for a long wait. As I was getting closer to first in line, I noticed a Mini Van that was being ransacked by an inspections officer. Now I am really thinking that I have made a mistake as it was apparent that whoever owned that car wasn’t going anywhere soon. Oh boy, I’m next, what in the world should I say to make sure that I don’t have to stand there for hours watching my bike get what appears to be the equivalent of a full blown,  gynecological exam (scooch on down please). “OK act normal, your next” (this is the little voice inside my head speaking).

Well of course he has the typical border questions; “How long have you been in Canada”? “What is the reason for traveling into Canada”? “Are you bringing any fruits or vegetables to Mars?” (ok he did not ask that, it’s from Total Recall). So I told him that I rode my bike from Mirror Lake, NH into Canada for some lunch and a little adventure and I was heading back to the cottage for cocktail hour and to catch the sunset with the Misses. He was silent for a minute and then asked, “Let me get this right, you rode to Canada for lunch?” …. “Well that’s really cool!” He checked my Passport in the computer (which apparently only takes 30 seconds despite what the Canadian guard told me earlier that day) and he took a quick peek  in my Sac (easy perverts) and then did something unexpected, he spent 5 minutes charting the best route for me to take home. “Don’t just jump on route 93, what you want to do is take 114 south down to route 5 and take that all the way until you get to St Johnsbury. It’s a beautiful ride, smooth winding roads and you won’t see any cops or even another vehicle the whole way.”

Well I not only thanked him but I followed his suggested route to a tee and he was right. It was a great ride and I was able to cruise at about 60 mph without fear, it was as though I owned the road. Not only did I have a great ride home, I did make it in time to see the sun drop and keep the old lady happy. 

This trip was all about the ride. It was a total of 310 amazing miles, two border crossings and some of the best scenery that Northern New England has to offer. That said, if you ever decide to ride into Canada for lunch, try Ailluers Resto-Bar in Coaticook. I honestly don’t remember the food but the bartender was cute and the beer was cold so who cares what the frickin food tastes like?

MORAL OF THE STORY? With Canada's thriving economy and free health care, expect a harder time crossing the border. US could learn a thing or two...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowbird Dreaming of Warmer Days

Snowed in....I'm cold, my walks need shoveling and my lawn is nowhere in site. WAHHHHH....okay, I guess I should be thankful that it is almost January and this is the first storm that has left more than a few inches behind. Okay, I'm thankful. ward off the winter doldrums, I'm going back...back to cruising down A1A along the Atlantic with warm breezes and the salty spray brushing against my skin.

On my recent visit to sunny FLA, we rode up AIA looking for find bikerfriendly bars. One of the stops was at the Golden Lion.

The Golden Lion is another great bar, just north of Daytona in Flagler Beach.  Situated directly across the street from the ocean, the open rooftop is a favorite spot for bikers to sit during bikeweek and watch the bikes rumble down AIA.

Our last visit in November was a beautiful, sunny fall day. Though quite windy, and most of the guests were downstairs, we could not resist the lure of eating outside with the beautiful ocean view. We also knew our days were numbered and we wouldn't be sitting outside for several months to come. Cue the violins...

This visit was a weekday afternoon and it was surprisingly busy with a good mix of people. This beachy bar attracts both tourists and locals, riding in on all modes of transportation. There is a public lot on the side street that is not paved, but the sand is compact. We were lucky enough to find some onstreet parking.

Inside is quite large - with several seating areas. The bar in the front, pictured below, is at street level and is the perfect spot to hang and watch all the bike week activity. There are some bar stools as well as a few tables outside at the sidewalk.

On top of the restaurant is a large patio/bar with full service. The views are great and there is plenty of room. Our waitress was very friendly, and although working both upstairs on the deck and in the restaurant below, she was very efficient and did not make us wait.

There is a variety of food offered from chips and salsa for under $3 to a seafood boil for $24....and lots of selections in between. We ordered off the specials menu that indicated all ingredients were local and fresh.

WARNING....chick- food posted below.  Turkey croissant with an apple-walnut slaw...oh, yum.Can't be too girly though, my Uncle ordered the same thing and enjoyed it just as much. Everything was delicious.

NO! I will not share....go 'way...not sure why people think it is fun to feed birds. Totally annoying...

For all the big, burly bikers, there are lots of sandwiches and burgers, equally as tasty and all priced under 10 bucks.

View from  bar at the top of restaurant 

Happy bike staying warm in the Florida sunshine

On weekends, the Golden Lion offers a variety of musical entertainment from local and regional artists. Everything from classic rock to reggae, and I can't imagine a better place to listen to steel drums while sipping a margarita and watching the waves roll in. I'll be back...

The Golden Lion Cafe
500 N Scenic Highway A1A
Flagler Beach, FL 32136
(386) 439-3004

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Gnarly' Find in Flagler, Florida

Located in Flagler, between Daytona and St.Augustine, is a totally bitchin' beach 'shack' called High Tides Snack Jack.

We have passed this joint many times and finally decided to give it a try.  Pulling in on a bike is a bit flying down A1A...and the lot is packed sand so have to take it a bit slow.

I think people in the area are used to bikes though, so no problems, just a heads up.

For those not on bikes, there is valet parking, which is required, and an attendant sits outside watching over things. The lot is not big so he has to shuffle around a bit. Not sure during busier times how this works for bikes, but it was fine the day that we visited.

Inside, the decor is reminiscent of an old Surfer's Shack on the California coast.  Boards, weathered signs and old memorabilia line every inch of the place and help create the beachy environment.

Don't let the decor fool you, bikers. It's not all boardshorts and bleached hair. A large mix of clientel with several bikers.  We felt welcomed and not out of place.

Outside, there are several picnic tables that are covered and wait service is provided.  I understand that people can bring their dogs and sit out here. Quite a unique perk, I think, not sure of too many places that allow pets.  Dining with dogs not your thing? Plenty of room inside.

Food was inexpensive and good. In hubby's usual fashion, he got the wings.  Sidenote here:  I have been told that to be taken seriously in a biker's world, I have to start calling the hubster my 'old man'....well, I've tried...not me, sorry. It is SO outside my comfort zone, I can't even begin to explain! Who knows why...need a couch session for that one. Anyway, for future reference, when I say hubby, hubster, ahole(no!)...I am referring to my 'old man'. K?

And this little tasty treat below was mine...buffalo shrimp. Oh, it was yummy and spicy.  That's not my beer though, stole it to make me look classy...was actually drinking a budlight.

 Pic is a bit dark but you can see that they are literally 'on the water'. We were there during high tide and the waves are very close to building. No ankle busters the day we were there...waves were HUGE...for Florida, anyway.

 We really like this place and plan to make a point to visit on our next trip to Daytona area. Maybe we'll see ya there. Cowabunga, dude!

High Tides @ Snack Jack
2805 S. OCeanshore Blvd (A1A)
Flagler Beach, FL

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Doin' Daytona During Off Season

Recently spent a week in the Southeast and one of our stops was Daytona Beach. During the spring months the area is known mostly as home to Spring Breakers and Motor Enthusiasts, and certainly lives up to its reputation as party city. However, a visit during low-season, September - January can be a nice surprise.

For us Northerners, the obvious draw is the warm weather and longer days as we head towards another long winter. Winter....ugh...but even if weather is not a concern, consider a visit to DAB to revisit all that you may have missed during Bike or Nascar events.  No lines, no cover charges, uncrowded beaches and room at the bar. Might even get a front row seat at your favorite hangout, like we did at one of our preferred watering holes on A1A.

Now, if you're looking for excitement...probably not the place to go.  Take a look in the background here...walkers, lime green suits and hearing aids are more the norm round these parts during off-season

Which could be why these lil guys seemed to be everywhere we went...I'm just sayin'

The smaller crowds and warm weather bring out the locals, who I think, hide each year from Feb - May.  Water is still warm enough for surfers, we saw several...further north towards Flagler.  Huge waves...we also saw a few brave souls in bathing suits, body surfing...seemed a little too chilly for this Northerner though...must've been Canadians. Eh?

So we took advantage of the warm, sunny weather and ventured to some favorite bike week hangouts...interesting to see them for one, during the day time and two, completely empty.

Inside the Iron Horse Saloon on a Friday afternoon...normally can't even see the floor in this place...bartender was tres' rude so we carried on. Not sure what her problem was...I did have fun reading the bathroom stalls though, since there was no line I was able to take my time...old man almost came in after me to see if I was okay. I actually took a few pics of quotes that I from Michelangelo...who knew you could draw such inspiration from a bathroom stall??

Cruised on over to Main Street and was able to park on street!  Now, last time we went, we had to park in a lot several blocks aways...granted, I was in my Uncle's minivan, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Full Moon Saloon on Main Street was open, we could hear music from the street. Ventured over and no one, not even bartender was inside...hmmm...was a bit freaky so we moved on to Froggy's, which never disappoints.

Always a good time at Froggy's...had a couple of beers and said good-bye to the strip 'til March...

Streets were empty, bars were too but we were able to check out most of the establishments that have 'em packed in like sardines during bike week. Oh, and have no fear men...we saw boobs...apparently not reserved for bike weeks and more info to follow...stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First Ride on the Dragon..Lived to Tell About It!

You may have noticed from a previous post that I was a tad nervous about riding on the Dragon. Had heard several horror stories, including one from my own brother-in-law who had to drive off the road to avoid a head-on collision with a truck.

On our drive over, about 2 hours from our cabin, I'm thinking 'did I tell the kids I love them?' or 'if something happens to us both, our kids will be parent-less'....ya know, all kinds of nice thoughts. And then we come across this, a few miles from the dragon ===============>>>>

Now this pic is after the bike was removed from the tree. It was actually upside down, several feet off the ground, stuck in barbed-wire. We happened upon this only minutes after the crash, just in time to witness the driver, thankfully, walking out of the woods. He was banged up, in full gear, but with blood on his face and walking with a limp. Speed limit in this area was 55mph so he was probably going pretty fast and came upon a patch of gravel that had spread across the street. Not sure he had a chance to see it or avoid it...anyway, thank god he was was not, but it can always be replaced, right?

While we are waiting for EMTs and trucks, I'm thinking 'man, this is an omen....turn around while you can'...'it's not too late to chicken out', etc. Have you gathered yet that I am a worry-wart? I mentioned my concerns to my husband and asked if we should just skip it...'Eff no' he said. Well, not his exact words...but something like that. You get my drift.

So we left the emergency personnel to do their thing and road on.  We entered the Dragon, at the end where most finish, I think, so there were not any signs indicating we were on the road.  I thought I heard my husband say something like 'this is it' or 'here we go'...can't hear too well with my full helmet and half the time I just nod in agreement having no idea what he is taking about. I sit and wonder...

I notice the road is a bit windy and I think I am on the Dragon but not quite sure. Lots more turns so I finally ask 'hey, is this it?'. 'Duh' he says.  I breathe a sigh of relief, somewhat, and decide to enjoy the ride. I was in good hands.

Now, there was not a lot of traffic, it was a weekday afternoon, and my husband was being nice to me...we took it pretty slow,  not slow enough for others to pass but not fast enough for me to lose any skin on the pavement. Just fast enough for this anxious first-timer to be okay. And I one point I was going to tell him to speed it up but didn't want to get too carried away.  Still have lots of livin' left to do...

This tiny piece of metal is what separates bikes from a sheer drop off the side of the mountain. Although, I didn't notice too many of these along the road...where would the excitement be if a piece of metal was there to stop you from driving off a cliff? Hmmmm...

Lots of sports bikes on this road and man, I bet it would be fun to ride the Dragon on one.  See how my confidence has grown? I was originally going to chicken out and now I'm ready for my own crotch rocket. Nah...I'll leave that to the young'uns...thanks.

These two were pretty tame compared to several I saw...some were blurs as we passed each other.

Still have a lot to learn...thought this was the top of the dam where The Fugitive was filmed. Apparently, it is not...oh, is still pretty.

Caution...windy road ahead 

Can get a bit of a feel for the road..I'm thinking lots of pegs are lost at this curve

The guy did a Peter Pan, right off of this dam, right here ~Fugitive

So there ya have it...not only did I survive, I actually thoroughly enjoyed myself. Would I do it again, you ask? Abso-freakin-lutely!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hey Chattanooga...where are all the biker bars?

On our recent trip south, we decided to spend a day in Chattanooga to visit some biker bars. Admittedly, my only research was going to a few BikerBar sites and copying down addresses. Not well prepared.  I was very disappointed to find several closed, or perhaps the addresses were wrong? I especially wanted to check out Uncle Stumpy's Pig Sty and Saloon and it appeared to be shut down. Boo! I wanted to meet Uncle sad it was closed. Victims of the economy? Not sure, but we carried on...ended up in a tourist area and stopped at the first interesting, non-chain place we found.

Cute bartenders with 'special recipes'

Sugar's Ribs Downtown is newly opened this Fall and is the second location for this restaurant.  Situated on the corner of Broad Street in the old Buffalo Wild Wings location, Sugar's has transformed the space into a Whiskey Bar/Blues Venue. We did not get a chance to go to the original location but from what I understand, this new location is a bit more upscale. I have since heard the other location has goats on property so will make that a stop the next time in the area.

We arrived on a Monday, late afternoon, so the place was virtually empty. Grabbed a seat at the full bar and were waited on promptly. Staff was very friendly and helpful with their suggestions on what to order since neither of us are too familiar with southern BBQ. Although I have never eaten them before, I decided to try the ribs. Not too fond of meat on bones, but when in Rome...

Delicious ribs and corn bread

Finger lickin' good, this place...

Smoked chicken

Sugar's sends the meat out 'naked' and offers several varieties of sauces to choose from ranging from mild to sweet and spicy to hot lips. I tried 'em all and they were delicious.

Being a whiskey bar, they do not offer foo-foo girlie drinks as explained by one of the bartenders.  Although, she said she is creative and can use ingredients on hand to make some fruity concoctions. And, she did offer up a recipe for an interesting drink that I will paraphrase...called the 'Wet kitty-cat'. Insert another name for cat Hope the shock on my face was not too apparent. I can be a bit prudish, at times. :-)

This was a fun place. Prices were reasonable.  Beers were a couple bucks, each day a featured whiskey is offered at $3.00 per shot.  There is plenty of on-street parking as well as several public parking lots and garages in the nearby area. Staff were kind and helpful, even offering suggestions for a bar across town geared more towards bikers. We would definitely visit again if in the area.

And, for an after dinner treat, this little gem is directly across the street. Chattanooga Cupcakes serves only that...cupcakes, in several varieties.

One Spice cupcake and one PB& Chocolate cupcake with a LOT of frosting...too much really. They did not travel so well in the saddle bag, but were still quite tasty.

From Sugar's, we drove across town to Bud's Sport's Bar on Brainerd Road, which was recommended as a local hangout for bikers. Since we had already eaten, we sat at the bar and had a quick beer.  Place is huge inside, lots of widescreen TVs...everywhere you turn, there were games, races and sport shows on. Few bikers, lots of locals and people just getting off work.

There is a large patio on the side of the building with a full-bar and several tables. Looks like it is a happening place in the warmer weather.

Lots to do at this bar...Wing Night, Taco Night, Karaoke competitions, live music and various food and drink specials on certain nights.

Bud's Sports Bar is located off a major road with a large paved lot and ample parking. There is a traffic light on the side of property for easy entrance/exit. Don't make the mistake we did and try to exit without the light. Intersection was very busy at rush hour and made it nearly impossible to make a left hand turn out of lot. Now we know...

Although our trip to Chattanooga was not as expected, we found a few nice surprises and enjoyed the city. We'll be back and next time, we hope to find the real divey biker bars...where they at, Chattanoogans?