Saturday, June 18, 2011

How's this for a View?

Every year during Laconia Bike Week, the Mt. Washington Auto Road closes for a day or two to motorcycles only for their 'Ride to the Sky'.  The steep road is a 7.6 mile ride to the top of the mountain, narrow and without guardrails. I've done it in a car and was scared to death so can't imagine riding up on a bike. And, since a rider died in 2009 on a ride down the mountain, I wasn't about to tempt my fate...that, and I wasn't invited...guy trip. But, I am not bitter....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Smoky Mountain BikeFest - Where'd Everyone Go?

Planned a girl's roadtrip to Dollywood and surrounding area for the first week in May...I know, you are probably asking why? Many did...still don't have a great answer, big fan of Best Little Whorehouse, perhaps? No, that movie love Dolly though.

While doing some research we discovered that we would be arriving at the same time the Smokey Mountain Bike Fest was going on.Was very excited to be able to incorporate a rally in to the trip, so planned on a Sunday morning arrival in hopes we could spend the day there.  Since this is a fairly new event, info on the web was limited and the only thing I could find was the location...which turned out to be incorrect or maybe it moved and the info was old...don't know for sure.

What I now know is that Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are not the same place...probably common sense to most, but for some reason I thought they were one in the same. Traveled on from Pigeon Forge and finally saw the 'welcome bikers' sign on the marquee at Four Season's Motor Lodge in the center of town. Yay! We found it...

Grabbed a parking $5.00. Walked down to hotel and saw Vendors packing up and an empty lot? This was at noon on a Sunday, boo! 

One at every rally
So we walked through the few vendors that were left outside and found a room that had additional vendors...who were also packing up.

Few bikes that had won some awards were still on display 

Think this one was 'Best in Show'...or perhaps 'The Only One to Show'? Either way, nice bike.

Lonely bull looking for a rider

Few of the vendors stuck around

So look us literally 5 minutes to walk through everything, was kind of sad because we were really looking forward to checking out the bikes and making a day of it. I found a schedule that indicated there were to be wing eating contests, karaoke, etc... but I guess since the bikes left town early, everyone else was leaving too.  We spoke to a vendor who said the previous days were much better...we just missed it all.  Think vendors should be required to stay for the duration...I just read some info that said the Bike Fest was so successful they have to move it to a new venue next year...story of my late, dollar short.  I do wish them lots of luck as this is a great area for riding. We then found a place to spend our money...

For a bit of singing..btw, you do not need teeth to be a great singer

 Few cocktails and a skyride (located across the street from Four Seasons) can be quite dangerous but we survived

The day turned out to be a great one, and if you are planning on attending the Smoky Mountain BikeFest, please do not let this info steer you away. In fact, if you are planning to head to Gatlinburg area, stay tuned as I have some good tips/places for you to go.

Contact Info:
Four Seasons Motor Lodge
756 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN

Smoky Mountain BikeFest

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Life Beyond the Vegas Strip? Yes, There is One!

Early to bed the night before and on East Coast time, we were up and at 'em pretty early, eager to hit the road.  Day 2 on the bike started about 8am....eerily quiet on the strip and the streets wide open. The only people up with us were the elderly heading to the penny slots & the partiers from the night before stumbling towards their rooms. 

First stop on my list was Valley of Fire State Park. Located about 50 miles northeast of the strip in Overton, Valley of Fire is Nevada's oldest state park.

In our haste to see something other than the bright lights, we left without coffee or breakfast thinking there would be a quaint diner or roadside stop along the way. No such luck..bring some snacks or water, there's nothing, not even a vending machine that I could find at the Visitor's Center...towards the end of the trip I started to wonder if I was going to die of dehydration and become food for the hawks circling above. Oh, and fill the tank. These are all common sense things, I know...but some of us are more book smart, than street smart.

Anyway, admission to get in to the park is $10.00. Hours are 8:30am-4:30pm. There is a clean restroom with working toilets and a small area with picnic tables right after the entrance. Suggest the ladies stop here, I didn't see another one until the visitor center. Guys, you do what you want, but I know I am not the only chick who prefers a toilet to a porta-potty or a rock with a rattle-snake kind to your woman. It's the little things.... 

Driving in to the park, it was easy to see how this attraction received it's name...The vivid colors and fiery rock formations were an incredible backdrop against the blue sky.  The sandstone rocks get their formations from the winds and rain battering against them; some formed in to pretty cool shapes, such as the BeeHives and Elephant Rock.

I've spied my own rock formation in the lower right hand corner...doesn't it look like the lion in front of the MGM Grand? See it? Or have I spent too much time in Vegas?? Perhaps...

My view from the backseat...

The old man was getting a little frisky behind these rocks...but again, the rattlesnakes...

Found some interesting tidbits from the web that I wish I had known before we visited. And if it's on the web, it has to be true, right?  Several movies and television shows were filmed here, and in fact one of the sets remain from the movie, The Professionals, with Burt Lancaster. Also filmed here were the Mars scenes from Total Recall, though I am no longer a fan of Schwarzenegger so who cares? What an a$$hole he turned out to be...Team Maria, holla. But I digress....another cool scene filmed here was from Star Trek Generations where Captain Kirk fell to his death...It's been fun! (Kirk's last line, you non-trekkies). This ride has been fun too, but I'm thirsty, and hungry...

Honey, do you think there might be a little cafe around the corner here?

Or here?

My fave picture below...taken from the backseat...not bad for an amateur, eh?  

Smooth, flat black-top for miles, Fire Valley National Park is a perfect place to spend a day outside the strip. But not when you are starving, and thirsty, and bitchy...

How many more freakin' rocks are there for god's sake...get me the hell out of here...ahhh, change in color must mean we are almost back to civilization...

Please tell me this is not a mirage that I see...up ahead I spot a palm tree, and a neon Budweiser oasis in a sea of sand.  Mmm, beer...and food, please? Gold Mine Tavern in Henderson, NV was a wonderful site after nearly dehydrating and starving to death...not really, but close. Lunch! But wait, Gold Mine does not serve food...time to watch a grown woman cry.  Waaahhhh. The sweet bartender then tells us to go grab some food next door and bring it back to bar...

And right next door Detriot meets New York at the Motor City Coney Island.  Take a guess what they serve here? Did you guess hot dogs? Ding, ding, got it. Not my favorite meal, but it certainly did the trick. They even walked the food over to us at the bar. Very friendly people and the food was delish.

After lunch we had a bit of time before we had to return the bike. We were going to get every penny out of the rental so made our way back towards the strip and stopped at a few places along the way. The Crown & Anchor is a British Pub on Tropicana Ave.

Of course there is video poker machines at the bar...don't all bars in Vegas them? And it couldn't be Vegas without cute waitresses, right?  If you squint really hard, you can see the bartender in her school girl uniform.  Not friendly though, and that is what you are looking for when you go to bars like this, right guys? Guess when you look like that, you don't have to try so hard with the personality...

Bangers and Mash 24 hours a day, 7 days a week...

Last stop was back to our new favorite Vegas bar, Double Down Saloon.  Mentioned in previous post, had to have some a$$ juice..this is how the locals drink it...twinkie dipping. A twinkie and a shot for 5 bucks...happy hour drinks half-off. Place rocked.

Met some great people, enjoyed the beautiful ambiance...

We got back to the rental place with only minutes to spare...a great day on the bike.  Oh, and in my last post I was bitching about being on the glider, or glide...on the bike for 8 hours flat and jumped off it like a school aches, no pains...I felt like I was riding around on a barcalounger the whole day.

Day did not end here though...back to the hotel and had a celebratory cocktail...not sure what we were, I guess.

Then decided to walk to the Harley-Davidson Cafe a few blocks down the strip. Passed the Bellagio fountain show, never disappoints...

Made it to the HD...far from a biker bar, more of an Applebees, but you still have to go at least once while in Vegas...

You might even run in to a Bachelor party there...oh, if his fiancee could see him now...

Capped off the night with a sighting of Flava Flavvvvvv....only in Vegas!

Yea, boiiiiiiii!

Contact Info:
Valley of Fire State Park
Overton, NV
(702) 397-2088