CHAPTER “27”….DAYS 23 & 24…2016 FLORIDA TO MICHIGAN ROAD TRIP!!!

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 6, 2016…..DAY TWENTY-THREE!!   MILES TODAY: 0.0    TOTAL MILES: 2819.2

I did something this morning that I haven’t done in a long, LONG time…..I over slept. That is if you call sleeping until 6:15 instead of 5:45 oversleeping. It is a rare morning indeed when Lisa is up before I am. It is just the natural order of things. She was a good wife…..she woke up, took the dog out, fed the dog, and started getting ready for work and all the time letting me sleep. Hmmm, it felt kind of good. I wonder if this will become a habit??

Lisa left for work right on time. Just as she was leaving I received a text from Sherry confirming my address and telling me that they were on the way. They pulled into the driveway at 8:20 and within minutes we were back on the road heading for Gainesville, GA.

We made a quick Starbuck’s stop near Lake City but it was just a quick stop. We didn’t stop again until Lenox, GA where Tony gassed up and we bought an armload of HEALTHY snacks. You know that is a lie because it is impossible to go into a convenience store and get an ARMLOAD of healthy. Among other stuff there was a bag of pretzels, M&M’s, cinnamon roll, Coke, & a 3 Musketeers. I hope that my doctor isn’t one of the four people reading this blog.

The rest of the drive was a bit uneventful. As I have said before “uneventful” driving on I-75 is a good thing. We pulled into Sherry’s driveway at 3:45.

Sherry’s son, Kyle, greeted us along with Sherry’s new puppy. She is a six month old pile of energy…the puppy not Sherry. After a little bit of freshening up we were back in the car heading for Sherry’s parents’ house. Her mom, Judy, is my first cousin who has been almost as close as a sister for as long as I can remember. Not only are we cousins but we are great friends. Her husband, David, is a super guy that has always been an inspiration. They both have worked hard all their lives to support their family and they continue to work hard. Their hard work has paid off in a lot of different ways.

On the way there we were talking about all the different foods that we could take. We just wanted this to be a restful visit without anyone having to cook or fuss around. Tony and Sherry dropped me off and went on to pick up pizza and some Chinese (food not people).

While they were gone I visited with David and Judy for a few minutes before Sherry’s other son, Seth, arrived with his NEW fiancé, Summer. I had never met Summer before and if my opinion means anything Seth did good. He just popped the question over the weekend. That was obviously the talk of the night. I had to sit back and smile at how well Seth and Summer were handling Judy and Sherry trying to take over ALL the planning. Little does that young couple know but they are going to have that “HELP” in planning until about 5 ½ minutes before the ceremony. It will only stop then because the mother and grandmother of the groom will be escorted to their seats!!

Shortly after 8:00 we got ready to head back to Sherry’s. We were all tired and tomorrow Sherry & Tony had to return to work and I had a 500 mile ride. I did get a chance to show them the Head’s Up game that Laura had shown me over the weekend. Then we hugged everyone goodbye and off we went. We were back at Sherry’s right around 9:00 and by 9:30 Tony had gone home and we were all going to bed.il_340x270_425383324_5vx4

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 7, 2016…..DAY TWENTY-FOUR!!   MILES TODAY: 474.5    FINAL TOTAL MILES: 3293.7 

Today is the final day of the trip that has taken up all these pages. I woke up at 5:00 at the same time as Kyle was stirring. He started the coffee pot and I got myself ready for the morning. After starting the coffee he made his way back to his bedroom. I packed up what little bit I brought with me, called Lisa to get her up for work, wrote some notes in my journal, drank my coffee. I thought that by that time I would see Kyle again and that maybe Sherry would have gotten up…..nope, not a creature was stirring not even a 6 month old puppy!!

I tiptoed out to the garage and rolled the Yamaha out to the driveway. I loaded everything up and closed the garage. Back in the house there was still no movement. I had told Sherry that I would be waking up and leaving immediately. I wrote her a very sincere thank you note for all she had done for me the last few days and……I was off.

I weaved my way from her house to U.S. 129. When Tony drove out yesterday afternoon and when we returned last night I followed along on Google Maps on my phone and memorized how to negotiate the various turns to find my way out. Once again I have to say…..I LOVE THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY! I followed 129 to Athens where I picked up U.S. 441. I would be staying on 441 all the way through Georgia and to Lake City, FL.

I am not ashamed to say that I was anxious to get home and make the final turn of this 24 day vacation into my driveway. I did my first gas stop in Madison, GA. This is a great town that has many Civil War era houses that were spared from Sherman’s burning of Georgia. If you are every cruising around North Central Georgia I recommend a stop in Madison. Some of the houses and adjoining yards are truly fantastic.

I made my next stop in Dublin and then Pearson, GA. That put me a bit over half way. All my stops were getting gas, buying a bottle of water, texting Lisa, and jumping back on the bike. My last gas stop was in Lake City, FL. There I left 441 and jumped on Florida State Rd 100 which took me southeast across Florida’s peninsula to U.S. 1 at Bunnell. A quick turn south brought me home.

I pulled into the driveway just before 4:00 and the trip was over and what a great trip it was. I’ll recap that in the last Chapter. Talk to you then.

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.

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CHAPTER “22”….DAY 18…2016 FLORIDA TO MICHIGAN ROAD TRIP!!!

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 1, 2016…..DAY EIGHTTEEN!!   MILES TODAY: 47.7    TOTAL MILES: 2819.2

Early to bed….Early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Hmmmmm, I would like to even have 2 out of 3!! I have 1…………most of the time!! That be as it may, I was in bed early last night and I was up early this morning. I did my normal wake up call to Lisa and the dog. I headed for the lobby and ate breakfast, typed on the computer, and watched the storm. I made the decision that the decision I made was a good one and I remained decisive. Hurricane Hermine’s speed and direction now made it impossible to judge when and where it would be relative to our travel plans.

Another quick call to Sherry and it was confirmed. She would go to work for a couple hours in the morning and head for home early. I would go visit with her dad and mom for two or three hours and then I would ride to her house. I would leave my bike in Sherry’s garage and the three of us…..me, Sherry, and Tony, who was Sherry’s friend and frequent riding partner…….would hop in Tony’s car and drive to Florida and return on Tuesday.

That done I sent a text to Sherry’s mom. Sherry is my “first cousin once removed”…..my comment is that we have removed her several times but she keeps finding her way back…..and her mom, Judy, is my first cousin. The text I sent was asking if they were up and if they were to give me a call. I got a text back saying she was up but BARELY and she would call in 20 minutes or so. I waited patiently….tapping my foot……staring at my watch!!!

Judy called and away I went over to their house. They are about 10 miles from the hotel. It is mostly a really nice ride along 441 in North Georgia. I pulled up to their house and was greeted warmly by my cousin, Judy, and her husband, David. Oh yeah, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I was warmly, loudly, and slobberingly greeted by their two dogs. I love being loved!!

I was escorted to their dining area where I was greeted by a breakfast cake…..aka birthday

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Happy Birthday to ME!!

 

cake….and a semi sorry rendition of Happy Birthday. Thank Heavens it is the thought that counts!!

 

We did the normal chit chatting away gossiping about anyone not in the room. Since there were only three of us it was Open Season on just about everyone else in the world. Due to the fact that we were limited to only 3 hours we kept the subjects of our story telling (fact and/or fiction) to just family members.

So I was traveling around for both Lisa’s birthday and my birthday. Still, Lisa received flowers and mystery cards, quite a few Facebook greetings, a pile of “snail mail” greeting cards, and a destroyed cake a week later. I received a gazillion Facebook greetings, generous cards from in-laws, a special greetings from Lisa (and she let me do this trip), a cousin concocted birthday cupcake with WAY more candles that OSHA normally would allow, and another cousin birthday serenade accompanied by a breakfast cake. You can have all your gifts and presents…….I had a GREAT birthday (although a Burke’s Law Rolls Royce would have been nice).

It was time to go. My main issue was I wasn’t really sure how to get to Sherry’s house. Judy, bless her heart, did her best to give me directions. I’m sure that they were accurate but I have this feeling that if I tried to follow them I would right now be running circles in Wyoming trying to find the “big tree right after the liquor store” so I could turn right a block past the other place I could have turned right but the second place is better so I was to forget she mentioned the first place. I think that she could tell by the absolute blank look on my face that I had no clue where her instructions were leading me so she said “would you like me to drive and you can follow me?” WELL OF COURSE THAT IS WHAT I WANTED!!! However being the brave, highly intelligent, macho, hunk of a rocket scientist that I am it seemed like I needed to SOUND LIKE there was no need for that BUT if she WANTED to run over there I would follow her…..just sayin’!

I have been to their house a few times on my bike and I always have pulled up ALMOST to the back but where there was a spot to turn around…….with a bit of back and forth rolling. For some reason I pulled all the way to the top of their driveway and the only logical way out was to leave the concrete and follow the sand and gravel back down the 100-150 feet back DOWN to the road. Judy had gone to the other side of the house to get the car and would be coming down a different driveway.

To preface the next statement you have to remember that I ride MOSTLY in Florida where it is flat and straight EVERYWHERE. Hence, I have become a lazy rider and use my front brake about 98% of the time and rarely touch the back brake EVER. Also there are virtually no areas in Florida that are left unpaved. It is amazing but EVERYTHING is paved in Florida. Ok…not EVERYTHING but you almost have to search for unpaved streets, parking lots, or driveways. All that is a lead into me making about four mistakes at one time. I got going DOWN their rocky, gravelly, and sandy driveway picking up speed as gravity was pulling me down the hill, I pulled in the clutch SO I WENT FASTER, I never touched the back brake to slow and stabilize me, I waited until the last minute (still going too fast) to look up the road, realized I had to stop, and hit the front brake while turning the handlebars. Let’s see…..Motorcycle 101 says “doing any one of those things is wrong……doing them all is plain stupid”. The Motorcycle 101 penalty for breaking those rules is to imitate Artie Johnson’s Laugh-in Tricycle skit of flopping over. Of course Judy was panicking and I was laughing too hard to ease her panic. Thankfully the young guy in the VW that was going by stopped and helped the OLD laughing guy and the OLD panicking women lift the bike.  Darn it….I was laughing and not thinking (obviously) and I didn’t take a picture.  Oh well, next time!!

After a little readjusting of the mirror we were off and on our way to Sherry’s. As we weaved our way to her house I was trying to recall Judy’s instructions…………nothing seemed to be matching. We pulled into Sherry’s driveway, I parked the bike in her garage, I loaded my bags into Tony’s car, I met Tony, we said our goodbyes, and before 1:00 we were out of the driveway and headed to Florida.

I was in the backseat and I realized that I am SO glad that I grew up when I did. When I was a toddler, youngster, and preteen we didn’t HAVE TO sit in the backseat. In fact most of the time toddlers were STANDING in the front seat. There were no such things as seat belts……in fact highway safety was the guy with the biggest bumper. The backseat is, in a

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The Backseat View!!

 

word, boring. Thankfully, I had my phone and I could look at it every once in a while to keep me occupied. I’m not saying that Sherry and Tony were boring. They were the best part of the drive but one can feel a little isolated back there watching the trees fly by only to be blocked by an occasional tracker/trailer every now and then.

 

The drive was good pretty much the whole way. We hit two or three pockets of heavy rain but it never lasted a long time. We did one quick stop at a Northern Florida Waffle House. We were hungry and it was fast and it was good. It was also REALLY cold!!. I’m not sure why but in the summer it seems like all Waffle Houses are COLD. Maybe it is so you eat fast and then get out. If that is the reason……it worked!!

Right about 10:00 we pulled into my driveway. Tony and Sherry did a quick “rest stop”, did some minor small talk with Lisa, and left to hopefully reach Sherry’s twin’s house before 11:00. I plopped in the recliner……a sweet thing that I hadn’t seen since August 14. I did some chit chatting with Lisa and with Lisa’s Aunt Maureen before heading to bed. Maureen was at our house to spend Labor Day weekend watching our dog while Lisa and I went to Amelia Island for my Bova Sibling Reunion.

That brings me to the next phase…….Bova Reunion on Amelia Island. It wasn’t my original intent to include this weekend on this blog but since the motorcycle trip won’t officially end for 6 more days when I pull my bike into MY garage I will carry on. For the three of you that are still reading this I am forewarning you of a few more chapters. 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 “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 “19”….DAY 15…2016 FLORIDA TO MICHIGAN ROAD TRIP!!!

MONDAY AUGUST 29, 2016…..DAY FIFTEEN!!   MILES TODAY: 91.2    TOTAL MILES: 1872.9

I woke up today facing my last full day in Michigan in this 2016 trip. I can assure you that it was not to be a day of boredom. In starting the day I was foolishly thinking that the day would be a nice restful day prior to my 4:00 departure tomorrow heading south………silly me!!!

The activity at Brett and Angela’s was early and intense. All of us invaders were to be heading out sometime in the morning.   Angela wisely stayed up WAY late (early?) and was able to miss most of the commotion of rounding up kids, packing, rounding up kids, saying goodbye, and rounding up kids.

The first to be leaving would be me and Lisa. Lisa had an 11:00 flight out of Bishop Airport in Flint, MI. She had a rental and would be driving herself. I, because I am the loving and considerate husband that women worldwide yearn for, said that I would ride to the airport and she could follow me. She is not real familiar with driving around Southeast Michigan and even though she knew that she would get there without issue was glad that she had the benefit of just following someone.

Saying goodbye to my kids and now also to my grandkids has ALWAYS been an extremely hard thing for me to do. This has not lessened over the years but in fact if anything it has grown harder for me. I know that they love seeing us and that they look forward to each and every visit. Still, I can see as my kids get older and more involved in their lives and the lives of their children the emotion of saying goodbye and the separation is not what it used to be. That doesn’t soften the blow to my heart at all. I do NOT like saying goodbye to ANY of them EVER!! Still, it had to be done. We loaded up the car, I strapped bags onto the bike, I donned my gear, and after the goodbye marathon we pulled out of the driveway and headed toward Bishop.

There was a lot of construction around the Bishop access road……as there was throughout Michigan…..and I came across a sign that designated the exit to Bishop Airport. Lisa also saw the sign. However, Lisa did NOT see the little sign on top it that sign that said “Bishop Airport Use I-69 West”. I did see it and rode past the original exit to the I-69 exit. Not knowing what the heck I was doing Lisa was pounding the steering wheel and calling me names and swearing that if she missed her flight because I took the wrong exit she would make me eat green vegetables every single day for a month. Even though I am a good husband and rarely admit to being right I was, in fact, correct this time. I made all the right merges and turns and, voila, we were in the airport. I headed around to the departure lane and Lisa to the rental return lane.

As I downshifted something didn’t feel right. I downshifted again and I thought that it felt REALLY wrong. I swung into the lane and had to upshift and that REALLY, REALLY felt goofy. I pulled over to have a look and sure enough……things were NOT right. The bolt that holds the shifter arm on was…GONE!! Yikes. The arm was barely hanging one. It would not have fallen off completely because the linkage would hold it but if it fell off the rod I would not shift at all. I stared at it for a while. I guess I was thinking that if I stared at it long enough it would do the I Dream Jeanie thing and fix itself. Since that didn’t seem to be happening I started looking around the bike. I found a bolt that held on a piece of trim that had the same size threads. Although it wasn’t long enough to be an actual replacement it did fit and it would hold everything together until I could come up with something better………I hoped!!

By this time Lisa had come out and was waving at me. Since all appeared to be semi handled I started up and rode up to where she was standing. I told her about my issue, she told me about trying to get through car rental people and the airport, and then we told each other goodbye and that we would see each other in 5 days. Off she disappeared into the terminal and off I rode to find an appropriate bolt.

I made my way back to I-75 and went south to the U.S. 23 fork. I followed 23 south to the M-59 exit and whipped east back to Waterford. My very, first stop was at Bowman’s. That is the power sport place that is located right across the street from my hotel. It is also the first place that I stopped at to look for a new helmet. I mentioned that in Chapter 10. This time I walked in and told my tale of woes to the gentleman behind the counter. He hopped on his computer and ran my Yamaha into his system. I didn’t expect him to have THE bolt or THE washer……and he didn’t….BUT…..he wrote down the dimensions and specs and sent me around back to the service area. The guys back there were great. They were on me like ants on sugar and had me a bolt with a washer all Loc Tite’d and installed in minutes. I

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My NEW Bolt!!!

 

was as good as new. The best part was as I pulled out my wallet the guy waved me off and said there wouldn’t be any charge. SUPER…..I would have bought them lunch but….well, there was 6 of them so……………….! I was up and ready to go. Thank you Bowman’s!!!

 

I went from there to the Burger King across the street and had a couple more of their Classic Grilled Hot Dogs. I can’t help it. I am a nut for hot dogs. Two dogs, fries, and a Coke and I was good to go. I didn’t go very far. I weaved through a couple of parking lots and made my way back into the Waterford Quality Inn. I checked in. I did messages and caught up on some emails before I took a well-deserved two hour nap. It was delightful!!!

I woke up in time to shower up and make myself as presentable as is possible with only “landfill” clothing and following two weeks on the road. For sure I have looked better but you can bet your bottom dollar that I have looked WAY worse many a time!

The plan was to go to the Lion’s Den. It is a reasonably popular restaurant in Waterford located on M-59. It has been there for a LONG time. I suppose that I could Google it and tell you exactly but I know that it has been there for well over 30 years. The deal was this…a gal named Coni who I have known since Mr. Pfeiffer’s 7th grade class at Crary Junior High School in Waterford was born on August 29. My birthday is August 31. For the last several years I have gotten a lot of mileage out of her being OLDER than me. When I announced my dates for this adventure she said that would be great because we could celebrate our birthdays together.

Coni’s boyfriend, Rick who I have known for a long time, contacted me last week and said that he wanted to have a surprise gathering of her friends for her birthday. It would be 7:00, Monday Aug. 29 at the Lion’s Den. Well sure….I’m all in!! Then he told me that he was going to tell her that he was taking her out for dinner for her birthday to the Lion’s Den. He said that she would probably message me asking me to join them. She did

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Lion’s Den Waterford, MI

 

message me…..TWICE. I did NOT reply to either one. At the same time I was inviting people. She walked into a huge scream of “SURPRISE!!!” from a choir of about 25-30 people. After the normal shocked responses she looked at me and said “So this is why you didn’t answer me” and I just kept the silly grin on my face.

 

It was a fun night. I know many of Coni’s friends so there was some great conversation. Still, I knew that I would be getting up at 3:30 in the morning and would be on the road by 4:00. I had to leave early and get myself to bed.

My last day in Michigan was certainly a bitter/sweet day. It was good and bad, happy and sad……it was life!!! See 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 “18”….DAY 14…2016 FLORIDA TO MICHIGAN ROAD TRIP!!!

SUNDAY AUGUST 28, 2016…..DAY FOURTEEN!!   MILES TODAY: 0.0    TOTAL MILES: 1781.7

Last night there was some LATE night gathering around the campfire. The “campfire” consists of a pretty good sized fire pit constructed by Brett. It is quite a distance from the house and close to the shoreline of the lake. I will admit to you, without shame, that I was not a partaker of the late night/early morning hours of flame watching, joke sharing, and the mandatory gossip of those not present. I am very well versed in playing my part as a grandpa and I found my way into the bed shortly after 10:00. I have stories aplenty describing the post 10:00 activities of my younger years that I don’t have to try (key word now is “try”) to add to the stories or to relive them by telling them……besides they look at me now and don’t believe I did any of that stuff………..OR…..by today’s standards “that stuff” is boring!! Regardless, I was long asleep before the embers of that fire cooled.

When morning arrived I was again first up. In warehousing we call that FIFO….First In First Out. I got the coffee brewing and went to work pounding on the computer. I correctly guessed that I would have much more alone time due to the previous night’s fire pit attendance. Although the donuts were viciously attacked yesterday morning I concluded that I had damaged everyone’s health enough with the mountain of donuts I had already brought into the house the previous two mornings. My task was the computer that lay in front of me and I went at it with a vengeance.

My blogging dedication was quickly squashed as the younger generation was quickly crawling out from the woodwork and grumbling about the meager donut selection. I was not swayed by the whining or the “Please Grandpa” begging from the sad little (and big) faces. I held my ground long enough for Kristen and Monique to start the waffle iron. It did not take long for the remainder of the donuts to disappear and for the waffles to seemingly appear and disappear in the same moment.

After Lisa’s birthday “celebration” the day before we found ourselves in another birthday spotlight. Kristen’s son and my second oldest grand turned 15 just hours before. Now that he was here we sang Happy Birthday to him (the quality did not improve at all from yesterday’s attempt…..may have even gotten worse) which he didn’t care about, we gave him a card that he really didn’t care about, and inside the card was $40 which he DID care about.

To continue the celebration of Isaac’s birthday we rounded up everyone to go out to Zap Zone in Waterford, MI. Zap Zone has laser tag, bumper cars, a trampoline area, gobs of arcade games that spit out tickets if you “win”. Angela was the smart one of the group and stayed at home with Maverick. The rest of us……7 adults & 7 kids…..piled into three cars received_10157350943385514.jpegand made our way over to Zap Zone. I will warn you that it looks really harmless when you walk in HOWEVER there’s a huge invisible vacuum that you can’t see or hear that sucks the money right out of your pocket. For starters it was $20 for 100 tokens….so when 7 adults (who all like the games) walk up there with 7 kids (who all LOVE the games) you can only imagine how many twenty dollar bills hit the counter. Then all but 2 played laser tag and some played twice….and laser tag was extra. EVERYONE rode the bumper cars and some twice….and bumper cars were extra. Half of us jumped on the trampolines….and the trampolines were extra. A few played received_10157350943455514.jpegGlow Golf….and Glow Golf was extra. I’m not even going to mention the sodas, waters, snacks, and pizza we bought. However if I were to mention those thing I would tell you that we paid arcade prices for them. After we all put second mortgages on our homes we proceeded to have a REALLY great time. For the finally the kids were able to take the thousands of tickets they “won” that cost hundreds of dollars to “win” them over to the prize counter and get prizes worth 50 cents to a dollar. Hmmm, I wonder if they buy their stuff from Oriental Trading also!!??!

The kids gathered their treasures and we headed for the cars. Our next stop was back up in Ortonville to the Cook Farm Dairy where we loaded up on some of the best ice cream that you will get. Not only was the ice cream devilishly delicious it also helped to fill the void left by me not buying donuts in the morning. We had ice cream cones or cups, sundaes, and shakes. At Cook’s they milk their cows and make much of what they sell. That VERY fresh flavor is something that is difficult to describe and in fact NOT being able to describe it actually describes it best. They also let customers roam around a couple of their barns and pet calves, cows, and pigs. After delighting ourselves at Cooks we got our full, sticky, and happy selves back into the cars (I was ok with it because we had a rental) and back to the house we went.

Although I am sure that Angela enjoyed the QUIET for the few hours we were gone she wasn’t sitting around doing nothing. The girl had whipped up a dinner that made us forget all about Cooks ice cream. She had lasagna and a bacon/bean dish that was fantastic. I’ll tell you this much……There would be no leaving Brett and Angela’s house lighter than we were when we arrived.

So we went into the evening with a wonderful dinner. We watched the kids swim and kayak. A semi-friendly euchre game was started and David, the oldest grandchild of the received_1753513538236016.jpeggroup and quickly approaching the age of 18, got a slight initiation into adulthood sitting at the table and having witty jabs coming at him from three sides faster than he (or anyone else for that matter) could respond. The night was full of fun and laughter. Even with each of us knowing that in the morning we would all be packing and heading out the night was a special time of cousins, children, grandchildren, AND Grammy and Grandpa!!

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 “17”….DAY 13…2016 FLORIDA TO MICHIGAN ROAD TRIP!!!

SATURDAY AUGUST 27, 2016…..DAY THIRTEEN!!   MILES TODAY: 0.0    TOTAL MILES: 1781.7

Here I am the first and ONLY person up at my nephew’s house. I didn’t stay up for my eldest daughter’s arrival but with little effort in observation I could tell by various items lying around that they did in fact make the trip and had arrived. My first task at hand was to make the all-important pot of coffee. That led to a couple of related tasks….like finding the filters and the coffee. I secured both of those items and then I spent WAY too much time trying to figure out which button to press to power up the coffee maker.

Now it was time to sit at the computer and try to pound out some emails and make a desperate attempt at catching up on the blog. For the three or four of you that are actually reading this you already know how terribly behind I am. I also knew that once there was any movement from the other lifeforms in the house I wouldn’t be able to continue writing. Unfortunately those lifeforms started to stir as soon as the coffee smell permeated through the house and the typing ceased shortly thereafter. My nephew was first up…..well, actually it was his 2 year old son, Maverick, who was the first but he quickly made it clear that he required his dad be up also. Yep…..that pretty much sealed the deal and stopped my typing for the day!!

Next to make an appearance was my eldest daughter’s partner in crime, Bryan. I had already taken an inventory of the remaining donuts from yesterday’s stash and taking into consideration that we now were adding two adults and, more importantly, two teenage boys I made the executive decision that we needed to repopulate the donut box. Bryan said that they also needed a couple of things also so off the two of us went for the grocery store….or as I prefer to call it The Donut Shop!!! We had about a dozen left from yesterday so I added two dozen more……that should be enough…..right? I also bought a small cake and a couple of number shaped candles for a little birthday celebration to be held later. When shopping at home in Florida we ALWAYS take our cart to the “cart corral” in the parking lot or back to the store and I would venture to say that 75% of the other people do also. So when we emptied our cart of goodies into the car I pushed it back to the store (there was no “corral”) and you would think that I was a returning war hero. Apparently, returning carts is not a common practice there. I got out of there before they gave me the key to the city!!

By the time that we returned the entire group was up. I can’t say that they were all awake but they were out of bed and doing their best to at least be giving the appearance of functioning. Added to the mix were now Kristen, my eldest offspring, & Bryan, along with my grandkids, David, Isaac, and Sunny, and Bryan’s son, Brodie. Walking into the house holding boxes filled with 2 dozen fresh donuts made me fear for my life. At the same time Kristen and Monique were busy fixing a good and healthy breakfast. The breakfast, I might add, was fast becoming the dessert for the donuts!!! There was definitely a whole new activity and chatter level with these added six bodies in the house.

The next thing that I did was get out the “Grandpa Boxes”. I shipped ahead some boxes that were either dropped shipped from an internet purchase or boxes that I ship myself. I won’t bore you with all the details of the little things in the boxes but the main box comes from Oriental Trading Co.   From Oriental Trading you can buy all kinds of bulk trinkets, play things, and party favors for a REALLY good price. Don’t expect Niemen Marcus quality while paying Oriental Trading prices but you can create LOADS of fun for LITTLE money. I make sure that I get plenty of doodads that make obnoxious noises like bags of whistles and flutes. I also had bags of little airplanes, small inflatable balls, fake coins, flashlight keyrings, funny glasses….AND MORE…..and I only spent about $50 or $60. In years past when we would all meet at a campground somewhere in Northern Michigan I would get everyone…adults and kids, matching t-shirts. It would be great because if you looked down the road and saw a neon green shirt odds were there were one of ours. This year because we are going to be confined in a fenced in lakefront yard I bought sailor hats from Windy City Novelties. I also brought multi sizes and colors of Sharpies so everyone could 20160827_133613.jpgdraw on their hats…..The only rule is that they HAVE TO wear the hats for our group pictures. After that it doesn’t matter. One last box was filled with things we bought at the Daytona Flea Market. NONE of this stuff is made to last. I feel that if it makes it all the way through the two days it will be considered a bonus!!

Once we got through passing out the contents of the “Grandpa’s Boxes” the noise and rowdiness levels escalated….A LOT…by both kids AND adults. Somehow we were still able to herd everyone together for the group photos. As I mentioned above it was required BY ME that everyone WILL wear their sailor hat for the pictures. Once the picture taking is done it really doesn’t matter what happens to ANYTHING. It is all made for fun for the weekend and from all appearances the concept of fun seemed to be successful. wp-1472832785393.jpg

That brings us to the birthday celebration. Several chapters ago I mentioned that I was missing Lisa’s birthday. Since knowing Lisa I have only missed two of her birthdays and both times it was because I was attending a special event in Michigan. OBVIOUSLY a wife’s birthday is a bigger event than anything else but there are certain conflicts of timing that have to be negotiated delicately. I did “OK” with my long distance handling of THE day but now that we were together I decided that there needed to be a wee bit more.

The little cake I had bought earlier was given to my daughter. She was going to write something on it and put on the number shaped candles. She did all of that and was having her daughter carry the cake from the 5th wheel to the dining area inside the house. I was in the house so I didn’t get to see this as it happened but the poor little thing dropped the cake. She was devastated as you can imagine an 8 year old being. My daughter did her best to QUICKLY repair what she could (which wasn’t much). All the time I was standing there in the house trying to keep everyone from running off and not having a clue why it was taking so daggone long!! She made it with the severely mangled cake with a blue, smeared, and unreadable “GRAMMY” written on the cake. We sang Happy Birthday……..which sounded just about as bad as the cake looked. Lisa also got a t-shirt that read “I’M NOT ARGUING   I’M JUST EXPLAINING WHY I AM RIGHT” (appropriate I might add). We all 20160902_121917.jpgdipped our fingers into the frosting and I do believe that the remainder of the cake went to the great oven in the sky.

The rest of the day was filled with a little rain, a lot of swimming, a bit of wave running, a little kayaking, some burgers and beans and corn, a beer or two, and a raging campfire that I slept through.

You know what……life really doesn’t get much better than this!!!!

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.