CHAPTER “21”….DAY 17…2016 FLORIDA TO MICHIGAN ROAD TRIP!!!

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 31, 2016…..DAY SEVENTEEN!!   MILES TODAY: 400.2    TOTAL MILES: 2771.3

Wow….I slept ALL night without getting up once. I think that I mention back in Chapter 6 that sleeping ALL night is somewhat of a rarity as one continues along in the aging process. I think that the last time I slept ALL night before the Chapter 6 event had to be sometime around Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address… it could be a year or so either way but it was close to then. Regardless, I did sleep great and woke up naturally around quarter to six. That was time enough for me to get myself ready and to give Lisa her wake-up call.

I made my way down the stairs and Marcia had staged the coffee maker. Being the industrious guy that I am I was able to push the button and was rewarded with that hot brew.   Marcia soon joined me. She had an appointment in Charleston and had to leave at 7:00. That was perfect for me. The first task, however, was to scope of the strength and path of Tropical Depression 9.

As of right now my plan is to stay in Commerce, GA for two nights visiting with another of my cousins, Judy, and Judy’s husband, David. That would take me to September 2. On the morning of the 2nd I would leave with Judy’s daughter, Sherry, and a friend….both are riders. Sherry’s twin lives in Florida about 40-50 miles south of me. Sherry was going to take the opportunity to ride with me and her friend. It APPEARED like the storm would pass by quick enough that we would scoot around behind it……BUT I really couldn’t tell for sure.   As it stood Sherry and I were leaving the plans as is…..but we were communicating constantly via text making sure that we were on the same page.

It was obvious that we were still not sure what we were going to do. We had already spun out all of our options…..and we had a lot of them…..but we weren’t really ready to make the final call. That being said, it was time to start my day.

I said my goodbyes and a sincere thank you to Marcia and we were both off. I followed her on Harper Rd to I-77 where she swung north and I headed south.

I don’t know what she was facing but I was in HEAVY fog. It was that fog that pretty much left everyone blind except for the 20 feet directly in front of them. I thought that it might treat me like the rain did the previous day making my view change with every curve. Nope!!! The view stayed pretty much the same no matter what…..and that was for the most part nonexistent.

Ok….there is a tunnel right at the West Virginia/Virginia border and I’ll bet that once through that mountain I’ll come out to the bright, smiling sunshine. Not So Grasshopper!!! I stayed in the fog….come to think of it I pretty much live in a fog but this

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Mountain Tunnel near Bluefield, WV

 

was different. The fog persisted south from Beckley for the remaining miles of West Virginia, the ENTIRE portion of Virginia that I-77 runs through, and nearly all the way to Statesville in North Carolina.

 

At the same time I was having a hard time deciding where I was going to stop for gas. I didn’t like that one, didn’t want to do that exit, the station was on the wrong side of the road, or I “prejudged” the condition of the restroom. Whatever the reason it was 170.9 miles before I stopped in Statesville, NC for gas. For all of the 71,000+ miles I have on this bike this is the second farthest I have traveled. The bike has a gas gauge and when it gets down to about ¾ of a gallon it shifts to a different system telling you how far you have gone since hitting that LOW amount. I call it the “dirty your pants gauge”. It is the part of the gauge that has you telling God about exchanging future changes in lifestyle for an open gas station to appear. You’ll be happy to know that for the next year I will help EVERY little old lady I see with whatever she needs!!! That is because I came up on a perfect gas station and bought my gas and I was good to go for another good while. You know, I’ll bet a lot of those old ladies don’t really want the help. I might have to evaluate with each situation to verify if I think help is REALLY needed!!!20160831_132419.jpg

My first target for the day was Simpsonville, SC just outside of Greenville. While planning my route and Googling various areas I came across the Bova Brick Oven Alternative Italian Restaurant in Simpsonville, SC. I made the location fit into my travels and I was swinging in. Before I knew it I was standing in front of the place. I tried to tell the waitress that the founder was a long lost but well-loved uncle of mine. Didn’t work and I still paid full price for my Bova Club Sandwich……which

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Bova Club Sandwich

 

, by the way, was excellent and even though Bova is my last name and I still had to pay full price I will still recommend it highly.

 

I continued on I-85 out of South Carolina and into Georgia reaching my exit at Commerce, GA. The previous night I had realized that my shirt calculation was a little off. I had a couple of days that I had worn TWO shirts and the ones that I did have really weren’t worthy of going out. Since I was again seeing cousins I was pretty sure that I would be going out. Once again the motorcycle traveling gods kicked in and there was an Outlet Center on the Commerce exit. I found the GAP outlet store and for 9 bucks a piece I had me two pull-over, collared shirts. I might even look semi respectable if I’m not careful.

I made it to the Comfort Inn and Suites and checked in. I made a series of phone calls….one to Sherry, one to my wife, Lisa, one to my brother who was flying into Florida for Labor Day weekend, one to my cousin Judy, and then back to Sherry. It was all in reference to “The Storm”. It was now upgraded to a Tropical Storm and named Hermine. It was predicted to be a hurricane and be smack dab in our way by Friday. By this time I had already arranged with Sherry to make our ride a two day ride instead of a one day but even that was looking shaky. When the dust settled from all the phone calls it was decided that I would spend tomorrow morning visiting with David and Judy at their “chicken ranch”. I hurricane-hermine-lgwould then ride to Sherry’s and park the bike in her garage. Sherry, her friend, and I would jump in the car and drive to Florida on Thursday afternoon/night. I would be home and she would go visit her twin. I could do the Labor Day weekend with my siblings and on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, the three of us would travel back to Georgia, have dinner with her parents, spend the night on her couch, and ride back on Wednesday the 7th. Don’t bother trying to memorize all of that because you get to live it…..you lucky readers!!!

Yep, my ride was originally going to end on September 2nd but now I won’t officially be done with my ride until September 7th. I may abbreviate some of the days but we will carry this forward until I have my motorcycle in my Florida garage. Riding in a hurricane was not in my original plan.  I actually have earned my “Hurricane Badge” in 2004 making my way through a storm called Francis.  I would tell you about it but my wife still gets upset when the story is told.  I will leave it with…..I AM NOT GOING TO DO THAT AGAIN!

So the plan is set. I am tired and I am going to bed. Talk at you tomorrow.

I hope that you enjoy my trip as you read along with my traveling. Don’t forget that anytime you might feel it appropriate you may “Like” or “Share” this or any of the posts on social media which would, of course, give me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. You can also drop me a line or leave me a comment. You can write to me at donandlisabova@msn.com using “Your Blog” as the subject line. You can check me out on Facebook by going to www.facebook.com/don.bova also because I will generally have more pictures and comments over there. Also you can read the blog about my 2015 road trip from Florida to Michigan at www.donbovaroadtrips.wordpress.com.   Lastly, you can look at pictures of my past yearly road trips to Michigan dating back to 2009 at www.gotyourpic.com/Vacation.

CHAPTER “20”….DAY 16…2016 FLORIDA TO MICHIGAN ROAD TRIP!!!

TUESDAY AUGUST 30, 2016…..DAY SIXTEEN!!   MILES TODAY: 498.2    TOTAL MILES: 2371.1

As I promised myself I dragged my body from the really, comfy bed that the Quality Inn had provided. I shuffled around the room managing to prepare me for the day. I had packed the bike for the trip at Brett & Angela’s house so it was ready to go. All I had to do was get dressed, throw on my backpack, fire up the scooter, and hit the road. Being lively at 4:00 in the morning isn’t the easiest thing UNTIL one puts themselves one a motorcycle. That seems to inject life and vitality.

For some reason Michigan has found it cost effective (under the guise of “safety”) to put in a Roundabout instead of a traffic light. If they only did this once or twice it would be fine….I suppose. Michigan has decided to put them all over the place. If there is one thing that I have learned since first passing my driver’s test and getting a license back in the early 1800s (give or take) it is that leaving safety up to individual drivers is like asking Dean Martin to guard the Scotch supply. Thankfully, the 5 Roundabout intersections that I hit were with pre-4:30 AM traffic and there was not much in the way of cars and trucks AIMING for me. I made it through those intersections and more miles of construction as I worked my way south out of Michigan.

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Michigan’s Roundabouts

 

 

I wound through Toledo and onto the Ohio Turnpike. We pause here for a political commentary….”I feel that one of the biggest insults there is to the American driver today is to have a TOLL ROAD!!! It is no secret that government at ALL levels is renowned for its waste of OUR money. I do not accept that there is a shortage of cash to keep our highways, byways, bridges, and overpasses safe and in good condition. Tolls should be abolished and NOT offset by an increase of other taxes.” I am Don Bova and I approve this message!!!  That being said I proceeded to get my ticket on the Ohio Turnpike and had the money ready in my tank bag for when I left the highway.

It was a bit cool in the morning but not unbearable and as I rode due east I did have the rising sun blasting my eyeballs. Still it was a great ride. I stopped for gas along the Turnpike in a Service Area. While there I sucked down some Starbuck’s coffee and gave Lisa her wake-up call. A couple of truckers walked by where I was sitting and they asked me about my trip. With enthusiasm I told of my previous 2 weeks and the routes I had taken. I also added that I was on my way to Florida. They asked me if I was worried about the storm.

Storm? STOR…RUM??? I have been on the road for 2 weeks and haven’t watched any news, weather, or sports. I haven’t picked up a newspaper or listened to the radio. The only radar I have looked has been centered where I was standing and how it would affect me the rest of the day. STORM?? I checked….hmmm, there is a tropical disturbance there. Number 9 they are calling it. It looks like I will be able to squeak by it when the time comes. Now I had something new to think about……a storm…..crap!!!

Being the trooper that I am I rode on. The ride through Ohio was fantastic. The weather and traffic was near perfect as I rolled along I-77 south from Cleveland to Marietta, OH. At Marietta I crossed the Ohio River into West Virginia. There was a quick stop for gas at Love’s a bit south of Parkersburg in Fairplain, WV. I slurped down some water and folded up some dollar bills to go through the toll booths south of Charleston……no political statements this time.

My destination was Beckley, WV where I would spend the night with my cousin. All was great until I was about 10 miles north of Beckley. It was sunny and bright as I rode along the curvy 1-77 through the mountains. I went around a curve AND…………the sun was gone. WHOOSH….I was in a downpour. Where the heck did that come from??? I rode for about 2 minutes, went around a curve AND…….the rain stopped and the sun was shining. I rode for about another 2 minutes, went around a curve AND….WHOOSH….there was NO sun and I was in a downpour. As I neared the Harper Rd Exit in Beckley I rode out of the rain and into the sun. Marcia, my cousin, lives about a mile off of I-77 and the Harper Rd Exit and when I pulled in her driveway it was a BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL day. The last 15 minutes of my day had been sun-WHOOSH-sun-WHOOSH-sun!!!

Marcia greeted me as I parked the bike in her garage. Since we were both hungry, tired, and had to be up and out by 7:00 tomorrow I carried my stuff into the house and off we little%20sicily%20ribbon%20cutting%20bwent to have supper…..even though it was only 3:00 in the afternoon. We swung by a local hardware store where she bought some needs for her house. Then we went to a small place called Little Sicily. Marcia knew the owner and we were treated like royalty. It probably helped that it was 3:30 in the afternoon and we were the only two people in the place…..but it was nice nevertheless. I had a Stromboli and it was great.

Back at Marcia’s house she pulled out a cupcake Birthday Cake including candles. Since they don’t make many cupcakes near big enough to hold ALL the candles it would take for my birthday she did her best. There were plenty enough……for one thing it took me TWO

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Huffing and Puffing didn’t help!!

 

blows to put them out.   That shoots the crap out of that birthday wish.

 

I got a fork and did major damage to the cake. I followed that with a quick Skype to Lisa and I told her all the things that I have just told you. Marcia and I discussed some Family Tree stuff and it was time for bed. I don’t handle the 3:30 AM starts as well as I used to.

I went upstairs to an empty bedroom and was asleep in minutes. Before I went to sleep though I took another gander at the STORM. Still Tropical Depression 9 but its path was now going directly across my path. I had a feeling that I might have to adjust some of my timing. I did not , however, let that disturb my slumber. I slept the night away….not getting up even once (and at my age that is saying a lot!!). Talk to you tomorrow!!

I hope that you enjoy my trip as you read along with my traveling. Don’t forget that anytime you might feel it appropriate you may “Like” or “Share” this or any of the posts on social media which would, of course, give me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. You can also drop me a line or leave me a comment. You can write to me at donandlisabova@msn.com using “Your Blog” as the subject line. You can check me out on Facebook by going to www.facebook.com/don.bova also because I will generally have more pictures and comments over there. Also you can read the blog about my 2015 road trip from Florida to Michigan at www.donbovaroadtrips.wordpress.com.   Lastly, you can look at pictures of my past yearly road trips to Michigan dating back to 2009 at www.gotyourpic.com/Vacation.

CHAPTER “3”….2016 FLORIDA TO MICHIGAN ROAD TRIP!!!

Where O Where Are You Tonight??!?!! 

One of the many sayings you might hear from numerous motorcycle touring people is “it isn’t the destination but it’s the journey”.   There is a whole lot of truth in that proverbial message but I have my own addendum to the proverb. I say that “it is the journey AND the destination”.   I too love the ride. I love the sights, the smells, the tastes, the people, the solitude, and all the rest that being out on two wheels will bring……even the rain and the bugs and the occasional rocks that fly up and leave marks my leg have their wondrous spot in the memory banks.

That being said I have to tell you that virtually each and every time that I get on the bike I am heading to SOMEWHERE. In other words I love the journey but in most cases I also love the destination. As I already mentioned in Chapter 1 (as a community service I will remind those that might have forgotten what I wrote in Chapter 1 (or didn’t bother to read it at all)) I have a destination in Waterford, MI and on the return trip I will have the destination of Daytona Beach, FL.

Since my destinations are set my task is now to plot out the JOURNEY.

For those of you that have not read my 2015 road trip blog (BUT you still may at www.donbovaroadtrips.wordpress.com ) I will go over some of the “important” basics. If you are one of the few that have somehow managed to muddle through the pages of the 2015 ride please bear with me as I will probably be a little redundant in the next paragraph or two.

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Me and my son’s inheritance!!

You will notice from the picture that I have accumulated a shirt or two from various Hooters Restaurants. As of this writing I actually have nearly 60 of them (the picture is three years old…..you can tell by how much younger I look!!!). Each one of those shirts (and the shirts that I have purchased since that picture was taken) comes from a different restaurant AND I personally bought each and every one of them. I know…..that is not necessarily a record to be proud of. However in certain circles…………………

 

I elected this year to go a little more to the west on my travels north so I did the search of Hooters locations along the various highways and byways that fit in my general scheme of things. I plotted out 4 locations that could possibly fit into my plan.

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My custom made seat cover

 

Now that I have those “possibilities” there comes the task to determine if I can actually make them fit…..I’m not talking about the shirts fitting (I actually have NEVER worn any of them) but to make the restaurant locations fit into a good route to Michigan.

 

Now that we have looked at Hooters (pun intended) I move on to my next step. When traveling I do my best to use almost exclusively the lodging of the Choice Hotels chain. It doesn’t always work out but with so many hotels in the chain it is rare that I don’t use Choice Hotel. The chain includes, among others, Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Quality Inn, Econolodge, and Rodeway Inn. They are generally clean and well run facilities…..and MOST IMPORTANTLY there is always a bed and hot water!! A side note is that the people on occasion to be close to me and they appreciate that I stay in hotels with hot water. All Choice Hotels facilities serve a “breakfast” ranging from reasonably adequate to pretty darn good. To be sure, there are some hotels that are better than others but I have never really been unhappy. I joined the Choice Hotels “club” so that I can do “advance” reservations and get REALLY great prices. The catch is that once I click “reserve” I own the room. That means I can’t change it in any way nor can I cancel it and my card is immediately charged. If I don’t show up….oh well!!! I have been doing it this way for years and I have yet to miss my reservation. Even if I were to miss making it to a reservation at this point I think that if you consider all of the money I have saved over the years it would more than pay for me missing.

choicehotels-logos-footer-options-5The next step is to cross reference hotels and Hooters with distance and direction. This may surprise a few of my followers but when it comes to choosing…the hotel will always win over the Hooters. After putting my Albert Einstein math skills and my Lewis and Clark explorer skills to work and scrambled it all into a whirlwind I wait for the dust to settle and “POOF” I have my route. You will note that the science involved is a highly specialized skill.

After all of that I will give you the Reader’s Digest version of my routing. I will head out of the Daytona Beach area on a northwest trajectory leaving around 4:00 in the morning. Around lunchtime I will pass through Columbus, GA near Fort Benning and have a lunch and pick up a shirt signed by all the girls working at the time that I stop and also a bottle coozie at the Columbus, GA Hooters. Actually I have been at that Hooters before when my son, Josh, was in his Airborne training at Fort Benning and we ate dinner at that Hooters. However that occurred before I started the shirt buying obsession so…..lucky them….I will attempt to once again stop at the Columbus Hooters. After the lunch (and shirt) I will continue north and I will stop for the night at Anniston, AL where there is a nice Choice Hotels location.

Night two will be at Evansville, IN and night three near South Bend, IN. At both of those locations the food and bed gods have, JUST FOR ME, placed a Choice Hotel AND a Hooters almost next to each other. How much better can life get?? I love this country!!!

My fourth day of travel will take me up through Kalamazoo, MI where if the cards (and the clock) fall correctly I will stop for lunch at my 4th Hooters (and probably last) on this trip. From there I will head into Waterford, MI where I will spend the next 10 days or so.

There are many who would rather allow themselves to be a bit more spontaneous and refuse to make reservations ahead of time. This allows them to adjust their route and/or daily distance on a whim. I can certainly understand that concept and in many ways I think that they are onto something pretty special.   As for me….I like to know FOR SURE that I have a bed waiting for me. In days gone by I used to make my reservations based on REALLY long days of travel. That was a good plan for a young buck but now that I am an OLD GEEZER I find that my days of travel aren’t nearly as long as they used to be AND much easier to manage (and easier on the butt).

So I am now allowing myself ample time for an early morning coffee and breakfast before hitting the road. If during the ride I see something that I would like to stop to spend some time at I now have the time to do be able to do just that. If weather or traffic disrupts my travel and any way I have a lot of leeway with the clock to play with and not worry about making my day’s destination. There is even a wee bit of wiggle room so that I can take little detours if I so choose.

When I leave Waterford, MI and head back to Florida there will be, sigh, absolutely NO stops at any Hooters. My first day out will be a little longer than most as I will travel all the way to Beckley, WV.   My stop there will include a dinner with a cousin and her son. After the night in Beckey I will continue down to Charlotte. I will swing a little to the southwest from Charlotte. That will shoot me into South Carolina and through Simpsonville, SC. There is no Hooters in Simpsonville BUT I found a place called Bova Pizzeria.

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The house wines at Bova Pizza in Simpsonville, SC

So my PLAN is to stop there for a late lunch. If it is a Bova pizza it must be a GOOD pizza. If you can’t have a burger at Hooters then a pizza at Bova’s is a good second choice. I wonder if I tell them that I am a Bova they’ll give me a discount…………..then again, it could be that when they find out I am a Bova they will charge me extra.

 

I will move on that day to Commerce, GA and I’ll be spending a couple nights there. While in Commerce, GA I’ll be visiting relatives and doing a bit of sightseeing. After the second night I’ll hit Highway 441 south through the center of Georgia and at Lake City, FL I’ll hop on Florida State Road 100 to swing me on my final leg home.

I love getting on Google Maps and the Google search engine plotting out where I’ll be staying each night. It sounds very simplistic and I’m sure that I do make it more complicated than I have to. I will pick dates and stops and change them and change them back and check my mileage math and recheck it all. Once I have it down I write it all out and give it one last check to make sure that it all fits……… That’s when I head to the Choice Hotels website and book all the rooms.

Let’s see….where does that put me? I seem to have all my plans in place. I know where and when I will be and I am even confident of a lot of my activities. I know the places that I would like to see and I have a list of people that I want to see. So now I have to get my clothes laid out so that I have the right clothes for the right day and activity. I will be on the road for 19 days and I have a lot of scheduled events….especially when I get to Michigan. Hey, I’ve got a class reunion to TRY to look good at!!! So keep an eye out next Monday for my page on packing.

I hope that you enjoy my trip as you read along with my traveling. Don’t forget that anytime you might feel it appropriate you may “Like” or “Share” this or any of the posts on social media which would, of course, give me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. You can also drop me a line or leave me a comment. You can write to me at donandlisabova@msn.com using “Your Blog” as the subject line. You can check me out on Facebook by going to www.facebook.com/don.bova also because I will generally have more pictures and comments over there. Also you can read the blog about my 2015 road trip from Florida to Michigan at www.donbovaroadtrips.wordpress.com.   Lastly, you can look at pictures of my past road trips to Michigan dating back to 2009 at www.gotyourpic.com/Vacation.

Enjoy and I’ll talk atcha again next week!!!