31 May 2012

Travelling Tales - Part 4

Onwards -
Saturday 15th May - We take a quiet route through South Georgia, lots of swamp land, wildflowers, deer (scary - they have no road sense), turtles.  Hot 85 degrees. 331 miles today. Odd quick shower of rain. Overnight in Chipley Florida.

Sunday 16th - 270 miles today, more scenic routes, beautiful houses and gardens, shrimp boats selling their catch, unfortunately nowhere to cook them.  We overnight in Biloxi, check the weather channel, tornado's forecast and lots of rain )-:  Had a great seafood dinner at McElroys Seafood Restaurant (looks like Katrina got it, but now back)

Monday 17th - week 3.
Skies looked stormy, so waterproofs in a handy position! Managed to get to New Orleans with just a shower. 

Found our prebooked hotel easily, dumped everything, keen to get reacquainted with New Orleans. Lunch at Riverwalk then we booked a Garden District Walking Tour for Tuesday.  Spent the afternoon dodging the rain and doing a bit of shopping.  Back to hotel for a quick change and then off to Bourbon Street - 3 for 1 beers and a couple of great bands and a good time was had by all!!

Tues 18th - Weather wasn't looking promising, we walked Royal Street looking at the antique shops and galleries.  Rain started about 40 mins before our tour was due.  By 1pm the heavens had opened but our tour guide said she was happy to continue if we were, in hindsight it might have been better not to bother.  We got soaked, the dye came out of my shoes. Peter felt ill on the mini bus. It was very interesting but it was far to wet to get the camera out for photos, the cemetries were under water, hence the reason the bury above ground.  If we ever go back, I'd do this tour again, but under our own steam.

 Wed 19th - Woke to sunshine thank goodness.  We had been given a tip for a route to take - Natchez Trace - 444 miles of quiet roads, no commerical traffic, just the odd car, wildlife, wild flowers, peace.  Why not, anything is better than the interstate and we didn't come all this way to look at the back of a truck.  We did 260 miles ending the day in Vicksburg

Checked into the Battlefield Inn then went off to explore the Vicksburg National Miltary Park, drove the 16 mile loop, nice ride through the park, great place if you understand US military history.  Hotel is full of English people on a Country and Western Tour, so we keep quiet, really hate Brits aboard, especially in large groups!

 Thurs 20 May - Back on the Trace - cover 340 miles today, just us and nature.  89 degrees.  Overnight in Florence.  Ate at a good restaurant Logans Roadhouse, just over from the hotel.  Found the concept of throwing your peanut shells on the floor a bit odd, and the tidy freak in me wanted to pick them up, but "when in Rome" as they say.

We were very lucky with hotels, always managed to find a bed for the night.  We booked ahead for Myrtle Beach, New Orleans, Memphis, and anywhere we were staying 2 nights over a weekend but other than that we just pitched up on a daily basis, mainly using Best Western as they are of a reasonable price and good quality.  I did find eating out every day a bit of a bind, and by the end of the trip I would just open the menu, glance and the first thing I saw I ordered. Lunches we tried to make a picnic, the cool box was essential, especially for drinks.

So thats Part 4 done.  Check back soon for Part 5 heading for Memphis

30 May 2012

WIP Wednesday 30 May

Not much achieved in the past couple of weeks, not sure why to be honest.  Started a new WIP on 23rd and actually haven't picked it up since so this is all I have.  Sublime Seaside cardigan, size 16", knitted in Sirdar Calico again, hopefully I'll have enough.

Ten stitch is stalled

A non knitting WIP is a couple of batches of Elderflower Cordial - takes 4 days of steeping, then bottle and freeze till needed.  Great with soda and or vodka!

Current reading material - Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen only about quarter of the way through so undecided as yet.

I'm also working my way through a series Travelling Tales here are the parts so far
Part One, Part Two, Part Three - pop in a take a look

Travelling Tales - Part 3

In case you missed them, here are Part One & Part Two

May 6th 2004 - Mike's Famous Harley - due to the fact that Delaware is a sales tax free state, Peter decided to make his major purchases for the bike there.  He pre-ordered some items and arranged to collect. It turned out there was some confusion over his order, to cut a long story short, it all got sorted and fitted but with a bit of a wait.  They did however, give us a voucher for a free breakfast in their cafe.  This dealership has everything, cafe, radio station, museum, limo's, you name it.  Its also a great place to spend money. Did you know the the HD in Harley Davidson stands for $100, that the amount and more you seem to spend everytime you go into a dealership - an believe me we went into a few!!  Whilst browsing we picked up a new larger, much needed backrest for my seat, which Peter fitted before we left the store. 

We were finally back on the road by midday. Keeping to the quieter roads where possible we took the coastal route down through Delaware back into Maryland for our overnight in Ocean City - there were lots of teenagers about it being Spring Break.  We had an early dinner at the Green Turtle, due to the fact that the last episode  of Friends was due to air and we wanted to be a jump ahead of home  yes sad I know.

The weather was warming up nicely the further south we drove, we were also picking up more bikes heading for Myrtle Beach.  Our next stop was the Outer Banks for 3 nights in Kill Devil Hills - we did lots of walking, eating and riding (trailer free).  We also had a few problems with the engine immobiliser, this cuts in when near satellite masts, meaning that you have to push the bike out of range - have you ever pushed a Harley?  No easy feat.

? Storm damage?


With the first week over we continued our journey through the Outer Banks for the 1st ferry at Hatteras which would connect us for the 2nd ferry from Ocracoke to Cedar Island - lots more bikes so plenty of people to talk too on the crossings. 

I got chatting to a couple from Washington DC - Marianne & Pim - in a camper on the 1st ferry; who we then met again on the 2nd - as the 2nd crossing took 2hrs 25mins they kindly invited us to their camper for lunch, we spent an enjoyable trip eating and chatting.  I really can't imagine anyone in the UK doing this for strangers.

Back on the road our overnight was at Jacksonville where we tried to sort out the trailer so that we wouldn't have to keep dragging everything out (we did this so many times).  Only 120 miles to Myrtle Beach the next day so we stopped off at a dealership in Wilmington for more bike bits - yes another $100 gone!!  Arrived at Myrtle Beach for Bike Week - we were booked for 2 nights - which was more than enough for me!  I managed to do some much needed laundry - one of those jobs you still need to do unfortunately.  The place was heaving with bikes and so much noise.  Our hotel was right on the main drag which proved a nightmare for sleeping.

Along with doing laundry we also managed to send the 1st email home, to let everyone know how we were doing.  Already had just over 1000 miles travelled, experienced riding without a helmet for the first time, bit scary but so liberating (and stupid). Interesting to see the different types of road kill in the US, you don't come across armadillos in the UK.  The Weather Channel became our first veiwing of the day, an essential tool for bikers.

Our next port of call was Savannah - we had made a whistle stop here in 2002 whilst visiting Rachel when she was doing a semester at Uni in Athens, Georgia, so we were keen to go back and do it justice.  We certainly did that, we walked and walked for 2 days, enjoying the sights and houses in the Historic District, eating places - can recommend the Moon River Brewing Co for dinner and the Liberty Deli (which apparently is now closed) for lunch, and the City Market where we spent an evening enjoying free entertainment.

Here ends part three......

28 May 2012

Travelling Tales - part 2

so we last left the tales with the Harley and trailer delivered to Southampton docks . 

As you can imagine the following 3 weeks were a whirlwind of final preparations, visiting and making sure we had all the necessary paperwork.  When I say paperwork, the most important would be the US motor insurance documents, which we still didn't have on 30 April, we were told a problem with the US website. I would say in hindsight incompetence, but we won't point any fingers.  Needless to say we left the UK on 2 May with the promise that it would be awaiting our arrival at the hotel in Baltimore.  I was however armed with phone numbers and email addresses just incase.

The girls took us to the airport and we managed to depart without too many tears. The flight was fairly uneventful, we had 3 seats between us which was good for leg room.  I was sick, as usual, not many times do I fly without either feeling sick or being sick.

As you've probably guessed the insurance documents weren't at the hotel when we arrived, stress levels started to ramp up.  Made a phone call on the Monday morning, but the person I needed wasn't in so left a message, booked another night in the hotel as we can't pick up the bike without insurance.  Decided to go for a wander around Baltimore and sort out a pay as you go SIM card for the phone, and umbrella as it was raining. Back to hotel, asked again at desk if anything had arrived, "no" was the reply.  Got to our room and there laying on the bed was a UPS envelope, which funnily enough had a post date of 29 April.  I'm guessing it had been there all the while - no point in making a fuss, but when we checked out on the Tuesday morning there was no charge for the extra night!!  Anyway as we finally had everything we needed Peter decided we would go and get the bike regardless of the torrential rain!!

First stop the shippers office, then USDA, then the US Customs Office - now if you've had experience of Customs Officers you know they have no sense of humour, not that we tried to joke but we couldn't even raise a smile from this guy.  We were issued with reams of forms to fill in, with examples of how to do it.  One form looked to me like his master form, I questioned this and was told "mam just fill in the form", which I duly did, handed it over to be told "you filled in my master"!! Er yes I did say.  After that he chilled out a bit and we got processed. Then back to shippers, paperwork flying back and forth, trying to beat a 3pm deadline when all the union staff went home.  Finally the bike was released, dirty but all in one piece.  We suit up and after a delay when the bike wouldn't start we make it back to the hotel  - it was still raining. 

After a long hot bath we went out for dinner - Phillips Seafood and a few beers, sleep and woke on the Tuesday to cool sunshine.

As mentioned in my post So you want some more? we headed out of Baltimore and on to York PA to the Harley factory and tour.  One thing we like about the Americans, they always stop to chat, give you their phone numbers, offer you a bed for the night! Invite you to BBQ's, suggest roads to take, places to must see - we actually lost count of the offers we had during our trip; but anyway, I got chatting to a guy who asked where we were heading and he made a suggestion of a hotel in Gettysburg which we decided to check out.  Lovely hotel established in 1797 and belongs to the National Trust of the Preservation of Building but it's position on a roundabout (they don't have many of these in the US) made it very busy, add to that the fact that half the road surface was missing, so it made for a noisy night.  When it came to eating we decided we'd like to try family type restuarants rather than chain one, so we consulted a book we picked up called Great American Motorcycle Tours by Gary McKechnie which had recommendations for places to eat as well as places to ride.  Proved a fairly useful book. We had dinner at Dunlaps Diner and Bakery - good home style food.

Gettysburg is a small town and as you can imagine most shops have a Civil War theme, we had hoped to go on a Battlefield tour, but just missed the start of one and the next would make us too late for moving on so we decided just to look round on our own after filling up at the Lincoln Diner for breakfast.  Just glad we dieted before the trip!  We walked through the National Military Cemetry and Visitors Centre, then rode through the battlefields.

We finally headed off through the scenic highways and byways of Maryland, over the Bay Bridge to the eastern shore of Maryland finally ending the day in New Castle, Delaware (206 miles), where Peter had a date at Mike's Famous Harley.

This is where I'll leave it for today......  I have a feeling its going to take alot of posts to cover 3 months

27 May 2012

Then we were two

Our little man is safely delivered back to his relaxed and chilled out Mummy and Daddy.  Granny and Pops have had a super weekend.  The weather couldn't have been better, though proved to be a touch stressful making sure that Rufus didn't burn. 

Here are a few pictures so show what we got up too.

 Friday - Doing a bit of play-housework

Heacham Beach before the tide went out - snack time

 Pony Rides on Hunstanton Beach

 Being silly on the walk back to Heacham with Aunty Rachel

You could see this happening - at least he thought it was funny

Sunday gardening and the wiggly worms!!!

25 May 2012

So you want more?

It looks like I whetted your appetites with my Travelling Tales.  Afraid you will have to wait a few days for the next instalment as we have Rufus this weekend.  Plus I am reading our travel journals to refresh myself.  Would you believe we have never read each others journal.  I am finding out what he said about me, and all those boring boy bits about this motorbikes and that spare part!!  I also have hundreds of photographs to go through, it may take some time.  Here's one from the first full day riding, taken outside the Harley Davidson Factory at York, PA, by one of the factory workers.

We plan to go to the coast tomorrow, mad I know as I'm sure the world and his wife will be on the roads high tailing it for the sea.  Its what we Brits do when the sun shines.  I had forgotten how much stuff you need to take when taking a small child out for the day.  Nappies, wipes, sun cream, buggy, swimwear, change of clothes, drinks, buckets, spades, books, cuddly toy, Michael Buble CD's - his favourite (what good taste he has).  Thats before we deal with a picnic, rugs, camera and stuff for us.  Phew exhausted before we start.