Daytona, Florida - Bike Week - Road Trip - March 2014
(GoldWing - Road Trip)

Road Trip Background - Having missed out on the opportunity to get out to the Death Valley Ride this year in February due to the ridiculous winter this year here in the South I now have my sights set on Daytona Beach Bike Week in Florida. Not a great lover of a mass gathering of motorcycles like this but there will be some Wingers there that have a lunch planned for Wednesday March 12th so figured I’d head south enjoying every twisty road I can find between here and there, attend a portion of Bike Week and the luncheon, then meander back home. So sick of this winter this is more of a sanity ride just to tie me over until Spring and Summer riding finally arrives.

SPOT Navigation Device Link below if you want to track where I’m at or see what roads I explore ...

https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=76a751f72dbf7e2a9&showInfo=yes

Saturday, March 8’ 2014

Before the fun could start there was the problem of getting the bike out of my little shed on to some dry unfrozen ground. The previous week had brought a combination of Ice and Snow ....
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Some heavy duty tools for a not so fun job.

Fortunately, the day before I had carved a rut through the ice and out she came and off I went. I left about mid morning to ensure temps were above freezing. Snow was still around in many places but the main roads looked to be fine. I decided to track southwest first and take in a few National Forrest and parks as I road south towards Mississippi. Haven’t been down that way too much and I had 4 days to get to Daytona ... so no rush. First stop ....
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Cub Creek Lake at Natchez Trace National Park in Tennessee.

Beautiful day with puffy white clouds and a slight breeze ... finally! The temps were already in upper 50’s by mid day and it was forecasted to get even warmer by afternoon. After my break and on my way out of the park I passed by a spot I had stopped at about 3 weeks ago while I was out on a day ride and visiting this same park. As I passed by the picnic table where I had parked and enjoyed a break and lunch that day I saw this ..
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A rather large tee had collapsed across the picnic table and very spot where I had parked 3 weeks early. They say timing is everything. Sure glad I wasn’t there at the wrong time. Weird.

The next patch of green on the map I wanted to hit was Holly Springs National Forest in Mississippi. I sauntered on down southwest a little further and ran a few half circles cutting in out and around the forest to include a stop at Hurricane Creek at Sardis Lake ...
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The Wing ... looking good and catching a breather it does not need

Not to impressed with the quality of roads down here in Mississippi. Even some of the main routes don’t appear to have been resurfaced in quite some time. I did find a few good ones here and there but many were curvy but to rough to enjoy fully. Reviewing my SPOT track today it doesn’t show very many hits at all and it’s hard to tell the specific roads I was on. I’m not sure why. May switch batteries out tomorrow to see if that makes a difference.

After that last break I hit a few more good roads as I got in to Oxford, Mississippi late afternoon which is where I’m resting tonight. Forecast looking good for next few days and the further I track south the warmer it gets. Heck ... I even think I got a little sun burned today... which was a welcomed change I might add.

Can’t express how great it feels to be back in the saddle and on the road again and getting into some warmer temps after such a brutal winter. Will probably be angling back to the Southeast some tomorrow. Let me see if I can find some more of that green stuff on the map and some curvy roads I can lay some tread on.

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Sunday, March 9’ 2014

Church, Time Change and Breakfast were all working against me this morning and contributed to a late start. I always try and find a Church on Sunday mornings while I’m traveling on the road. It’s always good to pause your life and give thanks plus it's like having an instant family of friends you never knew you had :-)

I pulled out of Oxford, Mississippi around 10 a.m. Figured I’d head south on highway 7 and then catch highway 9 down to Ackerman, Mississippi. No rain overnight and some clouds around to start the day but it was the milder temps that I appreciated the most. Some Rain to the Southwest but where I was headed it was forecasted to be all sun by afternoon.
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Highway 9 South Mississippi

Not a spectacularly curvy road but was certainly inviting enough. Truth be known I didn’t care which road I was on today as it just felt so so nice to cruise through the warm air. It was approaching 70 degrees by early afternoon as I stopped for my first break. Given this past winter I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to see these kinds of temps again.
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Choctaw Lake Wildlife management area
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Nice to see new beginnings taking root.

This was all part of the Tombigbee National Forest area in Mississippi. While I was stopped I was trying to decided how best to take in some of the roads through the forest area while continuing to head south. Many were rough and others not paved. I decided to jog back up to Ackerman and head out highway 12 to the east and before I knew it I was in the land of Sturgis
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Not Sturgis, South Dakota but ... Sturgis, Mississippi ... go figure

There was a road that cut straight through the forest called Sturgis Road that took me down to Louisville and through the forest area. I ended up on highway 14 and follow that all the way into Alabama. Highway 14 in both states was rough with only some smooth asphalt. Made me long for the nicely paved roads in Arkansas. Nevertheless, looking pretty good in this shot ...
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Caught this shot at the right moment.

On a sad note. Let me tell you what is sad. In Alabama between Selma and Prattville on highway 14 I was amazed at the amount of trash that just littered the side of the road in bulk for miles and miles. It’s remnants marring and destroying the beauty. I’ll never understand why people throw trash out their car windows as they drive down the road.

I eventually made my way into the Prattville Montgomery, Alabama area as temps topped out around 75 degree. Such a relaxing warm ride today!

Resting in Montgomery, Alabama tonight.

This place holds special memories for me back when I was serving in the Air Force when our family lived here. In fact I retired from the Air Force here 21 years ago and also got my degree at Faulkner University.

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Monday, March 10’ 2014

Question? Once you get up in the morning how do you know it’s going to be a good day? Answer. The sky is totally blue, temperature is already close to 60 degrees and all you have to do all day is ride. This is how my day started as I said goodbye to Montgomery, Alabama and headed for the beaches along the Gulf Coast.

Grabbed breakfast, pointed south, dial up The Hooter’s “And we Danced” and cranked it out. Seemed like an appropriate song since I was definitely doing the Happy Dance as I was rolling along this morning taking my first break at Gantt Lake.
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Alabama Highway 29 - Gantt Lake

Crossed paths with a few police patrol cars this morning as I was cruising south .... NO ... I was not speeding. What is it about a police car that makes you feel like you are speeding even when you’re not? Must be the guilt from the times you got away with it :-) At any rate I noticed a car coming up behind me not quickly but steadily. Protocol always dictates close examination in this situation and I quickly surmised it was an LEO. I checked my speed at the same time I was clicking down on the cruise button just in case. It was set at 60 mph and the speed limit was 55 mph. I settled in on 58 mph and kept cruising for miles with him in tow. He eventually went by as I passed scrutiny.

About an hour later going into another small town ... you know the ones that says the speed limit is “strictly enforced” Speed limit is 30 mph. Up ahead about a hundred yards I see an LEO pull out in front of me lights flashing going after the car ahead of me. He gets behind the guy for a very brief period and the driver slows down. Then the LEO turns off his lights, makes a U-turn right there and I guess heads back to where he parked waiting for the next speeder. Must have given the guy a warning or something. Lucky break ... I know about those ;-) As I drove pass the guy I made eye contact with him and we both just smiled. I pointed my finger at him and he laughed.

Quick lunch on the go and I was back in the saddle closing in on the Gulf Coast. As I got closer I remember the toll to cut across on Highway 281. Pretty good toll too ($ 3.75). I paid for mine and then paid for the guy in the RV behind me as well. Why? Because I can’t pay for the guy in the car that was ahead of me and it feels good to do good to someone else.

Went all the way down to the Gulf Islands National Seashore and out along Fort Pickens Road. With this kind of view ...
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and a shiny Goldwing under me I fit right in as one of the beautiful people :-)

After some time relaxing along the shore there I suffered the traffic along the Gulf as I move on down towards Panama City Beach which is where I’m resting tonight.

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Tuesday, March 11’ 2014

Spring Break time in Panama City is no place for an old fart like me. Tons of kids roaming around and making a racket at the motel at different times in the night. All in all it wasn’t too bad until morning when the power at the motel suddenly went out. Thought it strange since there was no storm or nothing. I didn’t figure out what had happened until about 30 minutes later after I had checked out and pulled out of parking lot. Just down the street were a ton of police and emergency vehicles and lights flashing all over the place. 3/4 of the street was blocked with only one lane for what little traffic there was in the early morning. As I slowly rolled by I could see a car way off the road and smashed against a telephone pole. The telephone pole came down and crushed the car and took out the power and telephone lines and lay in the street. No idea what happen but I sure hope it wasn’t some kid coming back in from all night of partying and had a wreck. Sure was a strange time and place for an accident like that and speed seems to have been involved as well to have ended up like that. Hope who ever it was is ok.

I headed down the coast for a little more before heading inland on Highway 65 through the Apalachicola National Forest. Eventually came back down to Highway 98 and stopped at Apalachee Bay. Highway 59 dropped me down to St. Marks Wildlife Refuge ...
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Swamp or Paradise?
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Loved the palm trees
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Expecting a Gator to come up out of there

Very peaceful and quiet here.

Rolled on in to Ocala today around 5 p.m. Looking forward to the ride over to Daytona beach in the morning and attending the luncheon with some of the other Wingers from the gl1800riders.com forum. Also want to see if I can get in to see some of the vendors without getting caught up in all the congestion. Daytona is about a 2 hour ride east of where I’m staying and there is some rain in the forecast for tomorrow but hoping it will be scattered. Should be a good group of riders turning out.

Resting in Ocala, Florida tonight ...

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Wednesday, March 12’ 2014

Greeted with rain this morning but a clearing emerged between blobs of rain here and there and I left Ocala around 7:30 a.m. to head over towards Daytona for lunch with the guys at Duff’s in the Sunshine Mall. Had the rain suit on because I new at some point it was going to get wet. Got breakfast out of the way with a small place along Highway 40
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Seemed to be a popular little place.

Did finally catch some rain the final 10 miles but it was slowing down as I parked along side of Fl Cracker (Gary) on the forum outside of the Sunshine Mall around 10:30 a.m. Few vendors here in the parking lot but no where near the number from previous years from what I was told. Met so many people and I’m sure I will have a hard time remembering names :-) Here are some pics of just some of the great people that attended. I estimate about 30 - 40 people but I’m just guessing.
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As you can see from the pictures outside it cleared up nicely by the time we all finished our lunch. Conversations ensued into the parking for a couple of more hours. Gary and I walked around through some of the vendors that were there but I resisted parting with any money for any new chrome. Although I reserve the right to buy some later at some point :-)

I took Highway 42 back over to Ocala in the afternoon and it was a much nicer ride than Highway 40 in the morning with a little more turns and farm land to view which made for a nice shot ... Pretty windy behind that rain that moved through in the morning.
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Tomorrow morning Fred (on the right above) and me (on the left) are going to meet up and take in some roads south of here that Dan mentioned were pretty good. Unfortunately Dan can’t join up tomorrow for the ride but he’s from Ocala, Florida and knows the area well so he told we where to go. Hope I can keep up with Fred on that trike. I’ve never seen anyone ride a trike like Fred. We shared a ride together last year at the Darkside ride and it was all I could do to keep up with him. Should be a fun ride tomorrow.

Great day today with just the right mix of sun, rain, riding and friends.

Resting one more night tonight in Ocala, Florida

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Thursday, March 13’ 2014

Fred and I met at Spark’s Place on Highway 40 around 9 a.m. had breakfast and were rolling south soon afterward in search of a few good roads.
Tried the area just northeast of Brooksville, Fl around the Croom Wildlife Management Area by taking some back roads down that way. Some nice stretches but didn’t find many curves but we did find one dead end.... so we stopped and had lunch
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at the Florida Cracker Kitchen in Brooksville.

Not one cloud in the sky all day today and temps cool but near perfect for riding.
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Many straight sections in Florida

After lunch we headed back north and said our good-bye’s late afternoon about where we started our ride today. Fred headed east towards his motel and I took off north on Highway 19 and made it to Macclenny, Florida where I’m resting tonight. Fred is riding back to North Carolina tomorrow. Safe travels Fred.

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Friday, March 14’ 2014

Decided to get off Interstate 10 and take the secondary roads up and around to get to the northeast of Atlanta to the foothills of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Highway 421 did the trick for me and I stayed on it all day. It took me all the way from the tip of Florida to the northern part of Georgia. Some good riding roads up here and I’ve spent time riding them on previous occasions. Tomorrow would be one more time as I plan to cut through that area before giving up the ghost and hitting the freeway home for the last leg back to Dover.

Resting tonight near Commerce, Georgia

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Saturday, March 15’ 2014

Easy day riding today ... it always is when you have home in your sights and you’ve been on the road for a week. Love them both but today was special because I knew I would be home at the end of todays ride. Even with home on the mind and the horizon there was still time to cut up into some curvy roads in northern Georgia on the way ...
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So sweet of a sign
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Another fine warm day with a mix of clouds but no rain

Stop up at Neels Gap along Highway 19/129 on the east side of Blood Mountain and got my portrait done by some friendly cyclist ...
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Me and my Steel Steed at Mountain Crossings at Walasi-YI, Georgia
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Mystery Tree here with pairs of worn shoes hanging from many branches ... strange
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I hope when I’m back this way that tree will have some clothes on :-)

As I crossed the Tennessee border and neared Cleveland, Tn I felt home drawing me near like a magnet and I let it draw me up the interstate all the way to Clarksville where I feasted at my favorite steak house for a late lunch. As I rode the last few miles of this journey I glanced down at the odometer and see that this road trip logs in at 2,675 miles through 4 states in 8 days. As I continue to reflect on the last 8 days of riding my driveway comes into view and before I know it I’m tucking the Wing away and closing the door. Nice to have the 2014 riding season get off to such a great start. It was also the first full road trip for my new 2013 Goldwing which now has a whopping 12,500 miles on it now. It has a long way to go and some huge shoes to fill if it wants to match the mileage I got out of my 04 the last 9 years 278k. I’m betting it can do it if I live long enough to ride it that far.

Live every day ... today

Thanks for following along on this one ... now you put a road trip together and go ... or better yet just go.

Donnie

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