Riding the rim to save America's wetlands
Welcome to Notes From The Rim, a diary of my travels as I was Riding The Rim to save America's WETLANDS
Post Ride Entry: September 8, 2007 After now being off the rim for 30 plus days I have had time to reflect back on the my trip. While still sorting through written materials accumulated on the road in addition to the many wonderful memories I have, I thought you may be interested in a an update.
The weeks following my return were busy with several radio, television and newspaper interviews. I was often asked on how people around the country perceived what I was doing and how they felt about post-Katrina progress. I reported the warmth and compassion that I encountered on the road and also the lack of understanding about the importance of wetlands. Along with this I related how many people were fed up with the vast monies being spent to rebuild the Gulf coast and the associated waste and mismanagement by local, state and national government agencies. What surprised me the most was that many people were under the impression that New Orleans was completely destroyed and that there was nothing left to salvage, so why restore the wetlands!
On a somewhat lighter note, it was great to be reunited with my family and friends. They all wanted to hear about my adventures and were inquisitive about the trip itself. Did I get saddle sore? No not really, mostly due to the wonderful Mustang seat on the Glide. How far did I go each day? Generally about 300 miles with the longest day being around 500 miles. Did you run into any difficult people? Only one, a U.S. Boarder guard at the Saskatchewan - U.S. boarder. He was convinced that I was carrying illegal drugs and repeatedly warned me that if I came clean with him thing would go easier for me. After going through every bag and nook on the Glide, with all of my belonging lying on the payment, he ushered me through to the U.S. side. I realize he was just doing his job and I probably caught him on a bad day. What was your worst weather? Wind storms on the Mojave Desert on my way to San Diego. What was the nicest place you saw? Impossible to say, just to many great places to pick of one. Would you do it again? Absolutely! Are you tired of riding? No! Where is your next trip to? Where ever wind blows me. Will do another project like this again? Count on it.
Rim Day 97: July 27, 2007 Slidell, Louisiana - After 16,500 miles and 97 days I have completed my journey. Pulling into the Harley Davidson dealership in Slidell marked the final leg of the ride. I want to thank Mike Bruno's Northshore Harley Davidson and the Northshore H.O.G. chapter for helping with the Ride Home Event, and to my friends and family for the warm welcome back.
As we prepared for the final ride someone asked me how the trip was. My answer was easy - on a 1 - 10 scale the trip was a 15! My good friend Larry wanted to know the best road I had traveled, that answer was not so easy. Perhaps over time I will be able to come up with a Top 10, but right now I couldn't even narrow it down to a Top 25. So to those who have weathered this journey with me, either on the road or on the super highway of the internet, I want to thank you for your support and also encourage you to visit this site and check in for updates. There are still more adventures to be had, and I am inviting you to join Linda and I as we continue in our endeavors to Save America's WETLAND.
Rim Day 94: July 24, 2007 Somewhere east of the Louisiana boarder and heading west. Finally a break from the tropical steam bath that I have been riding in for the last several weeks. Taking Hwy 98 from Perry I traveled west through the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. This is a great road canopied by hardwood trees that provide a shady and fragrant route for the occasional traveler. As the road narrows into two lanes it enters the Apalachicola National Forest. Other than an occasional logging truck I had the highway to myself and by mid morning the temperature was still in the low 70's - Oh! what great way to start the road home. After leaving the national forest I connected with Rte 20 which took me across the sparsely populated mid section of the Florida panhandle. My solitary travels were soon interrupted as I approached Choctawhatchee Bay which is on the north side of Ft Walton Beach. Even on a weekday this popular area attracts tourists and I was glad to leave the traffic behind me as I pointed the Glide north towards Interstate 10. This was one of the rare times that I was glad to be on the super slab. Of the 16,000 miles that I have traveled so far most have been on secondary roads, but I knew that would change as I entered the Gulf coast area. For the remainder of my trip I will continue on a steady course towards New Orleans staying close to the gulf as I travel through Alabama and Mississippi. My expected date of return is set for Friday, July 27th.
You Are Invited to Ride Home with Me
We are planning a Ride Home Event and are inviting all riders to join me as I enter Louisiana. We will meet at the Louisiana Welcome/Rest Area on I-10 west. If you are coming from New Orleans go over the Pearl River on I-10 east and take the very first exit as you enter Mississippi. Go under the overpass and head back east on the interstate going west, cross over the Pearl River as you enter Louisiana and exit at the Welcome/Rest Area. We will depart the Rest Area at 6:00 PM and ride as a group to Mike Bruno's Northshore Harley Davidson in Slidell, LA. Mike is hosting his monthly Bike Night that evening and there will food, music and lots of fun. Hope to see you there!
Rim Day 92: July 22, 2007 - Perry, FL. For the last several days I have been traveling up the southwest coast of Florida. After leaving Ft. Meyers my next stop was St. Petersburg which was a quick trip on I-75. This part of the Florida Peninsula is prone to rapid weather changes and the norm is for brief but sometimes violent afternoon thunderstorms. Such was the day I arrived in the greater Tampa Bay area. After crossing the majestic Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which links the southern portion of Tampa Bay to St. Petersburg, the sky started to rumble with thunder which was quickly followed by bold flashes of lightening. I luckily found a hotel and managed to get out of the weather before it turned too ugly. The next day had me retracing my path south back towards Sarasota where I would be spending sometime with the Sarasota H.O.G. Chapter. One of the chapter members and his wife graciously offered there rental villa to me for lodging which I quickly accepted. Many thanks to Jan and his wife. I had a free afternoon before hooking up with Jan and decided to tour the Ringling Museum, which is actually three venues; the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum, the Ringling Mansion and the Ringling Art Museum. Sarasota was the winter headquarters for the Ringling Brothers Circus for many years. Here John Ringling built an elaborate winter mansion for he and his wife Mabel. In their many travels to Europe, seeking new acts for the circus, they purchased antiques and pieces of art to decorate their Venetian styled mansion. On the grounds of the mansion, which is owned by the city of Sarasota, several building contain circus artifacts from the early circus days up to the present time. The art museum contains several exhibits on loan as well as a permanent exhibits from the collection of amassed by John and his wife. Very impressive and well worth the visit should your travels ever take you to Sarasota.
The next day which marked the 3 month point on my trip was spent with the Sarasota H.O.G. Chapter which is sponsored by Rossiter's HD. They planned a great event, thanks to Donna DeFant, the chapter's Assistant Director, for the group to ride out to Mayakka State Park which has some of the oldest protected wetlands in Florida. Prior to group heading out Channel 6 TV (SSN) came out interview Ride Captain Danny Roberts and myself for an interesting piece on the ride. The story ran several times that evening and the next day in the greater Sarasota area. The ride and the park were great, if not a little wet. Remember this is south Florida in the summertime! My thanks to Donna, Danny, Jan, Mitch and the entire Sarasota H.O.G. Chapter for a very interesting day.
I participated in an early morning Sunday ride with the chapter up to St. Petersburg and bid my farewells as I headed north eventually taking U.S. 19 into Perry. This is a great road to just put the bike on cruise and enjoy the wooded countryside. The area was experiencing a rare "cold" front which meant less humid air and after riding in plus 90 degree weather at 70% or greater relative humidity for the last several days it was a welcome respite.
I am now in the final week of the trip and while there are more adventures still to come, I am looking forward to getting back to Louisiana and my family.
Rim Day 88: July 18, 2007 As I pointed the Glide out of Key West early Tuesday morning (July 17) another milestone was reached; I was taking a northerly course for the first time since going up the Pacific Coast Highway in early May. The day started out with angry storm clouds and dark skies which gave way to intermittent rain showers as I passed through the numerous keys back to the Florida mainland. An accident on U.S. Rte 1 forced me to backtrack at Key Largo and take an alternative route to Homestead where I would eventually bounce over to U.S. 41 heading west. The clouds gave way to a hazy sun filled sky and by noon the temperature was at 93 degrees as I traveled through the Everglades National Park. A stop at one of the numerous ranger stations offered me the opportunity to cool off and also to get some pictures of several alligators lounging in a canal by the station. There are not many communities on this lonely stretch of pavement but one, Ochopee, Fl, is home to the smallest post office in the U.S. This of course called for an ABC picture. Finally I cleared the swamps of the Everglades, but not the heat, as I entered civilization near Naples FL. My nights destination was Ft. Meyers FL so I pushed on for another 30 plus miles and found lodging just as the skies started to rumble and flash with lightening. Once again I had escaped getting caught in a serious storm and was thankful that the owner let me put the Glide under the motel's covered drive.
Today I visited the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Meyers. This was my second time visiting this National Historic site, the first being sometime in the early 1980's. Thomas Edison built a laboratory and several homes on 14 acres that he purchased in the very early 1900's. It was here that Edison, Ford and Firestone developed a life long friendship while they fished and enjoyed the lovely beaches in the surrounding area. While at the Ft. Meyer location Edison experimented with several plants looking for a more efficient way to produce latex for manufacturing rubber. Although best know for this work with electricity; light bulb, first phonograph, motion movie camera and movie studio, Edison also was interested in botanicals and natural science. His laboratory has been left untouched since he last used it in the 1930's and includes the cot that Edison would use for his frequent catnaps during the his long work day.
I found the local Harley Davidson dealership where I met several riders who were interested in hearing about my ride around the rim. Ft Meyers and the entire Florida gulf coast has experienced first hand the devastation that hurricanes can cause. Thus there were many sympathetic and understanding ears as I explained the reason I was Riding the Rim to save America's WETLAND
Rim Day 86: July 16, 2007 Yesterday I arrived in Key West FL, the most southerly point in the U.S. and a hallmark in my ride. For the last several days I have been riding down the Atlantic eastern seaboard with my first stop in Brunswick, GA where I met up with the Golden Isle H.O.G. Chapter. Brunswick is a city rich in shipping and fishing history. It is situated on a large bay and I was surprised to learn that it shares the same longitude as that of Cleveland, OH. I was told that this one of the reasons that Brunswick has been spared from many tropical storm systems. As we rode abundant areas of wetlands, marshes and waterways were pointed out to me my Adam, one of the H.O.G. members who took the day off to go riding with me. Of course no ride is complete without lunch and I got to experience first hand the great seafood that comes out of the local waters. Many thanks to Adam, Jamie, David, Debbie, Mike and Beth for taking time out of their busy schedule to show me a good time.
Continuing my trip south I crossed into Florida and got the requisite free cup of orange juice at the Welcome Center. I made it to Vero Beach that evening just as the skies opened up with a pounding thunderstorm. I had decided to take the Florida Turnpike to quickly get around Ft. Lauderdale and the greater Miami area, so the next morning I was up early and on the road. By 11:00 I had made it to Florida City where I rejoined my old friend U.S. Hwy 1 for the trip down into the Keys. The ride although slow, 45 MPH, was very scenic as the highway lead me through one "key" (island) after another. Finally I arrived in Key West and with the help of the local tourist bureau I found a reasonably priced motel right in the heart of Key West. If I had any concerns about becoming acclimated to the summer weather prior to coming home my concerns were put to rest by the steamy tropical environment of Key West. This is truly a unique place with its mixture of tourist, locals and castaways all blending together. The atmosphere is casual, the pace is slow and the attitude is mostly one of "anything goes". The main drag Duval Street has all the ingredients of a mini "Bourbon Street". I decided to explore the less rowdy parts of the city and first on my list was the buoy the marks the most southerly point in the U.S. which is exactly 90 miles north of Cuba. I got the Glide up early the next morning for a photo shoot at the buoy and then we hit the street to explore the city. Being 4 miles long and 2 miles wide it doesn't take long to see the sights and after riding through a brief morning rain shower I parked the bike and set out on foot. Next came the Ernest Hemmingway Home which was the residence for many years of this famous writer . The house contains many original items from Hemmingway and the guided tour was very informative. While in Key West Hemmingway frequented many watering holes but his favorite was Sloppy Joes on Duval Street. Next on my self guided tour was the "Little White House" that Harry S. Truman used as a functioning White House. Presidents Taft, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter and Clinton all used this restored Navy Officers House, circa 1890, as a summer home during their presidencies.
It's Monday and as any good New Orleanian knows that means it laundry day. The SpinDrift Motel has a guest laundry, now if I only could find some red beans ....
Rim Day 82: July 12, 2007 I have been exploring the wonderful cities of Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA for the last several days. Each has it's own particular charm and both reminded me of New Orleans. Charleston is situated on a peninsula bounded by two rivers and the Atlantic Ocean. It became a major port during the pre-revolutionary period and continued up and through the Civil War as a strategic miltary site, think Fort Sumter. Many of the building date to the 1720's and are beautifully restored as private residences which line the battery area. Walking in the old section of the city, which is filled up with galleries, shops and restaurants, was a joy even in the 90 plus degree heat.
Savannah is a delightful town and suggests what a smaller sized New Orleans could become. It's founder, James Oglethorpe along with 133 colonists settled Savannah in February of 1733. Oglethorpe designed the city around several "parks" or green spaces most of which still exist today. With huge live oaks trees draped in Spanish moss, Savannah has been used to film many movies including Cape Fear, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and one of my all time favorites, Forest Gump. The Savannah River has always played a significant role the cities history and today it is boarded by a walk lined with restaurants and art galleries.
Tomorrow I travel to Brunswick GA for an event at the Golden Isles Harley Davidson dealership. Plans are to ride some of the wetlands areas with members of the H.O.G. Chapter.
Rim Day 79: July 9, 2007 Yesterday I left North Carolina but not before enjoying my first Waffle House breakfast in several months, that along with having "collard greens" at dinner the night before left no doubt in my mind that I had returned to the homeland. Taking U.S. Hwy 17 south I was the only traveler on the road early Sunday morning. Near New Bern, NC I stopped for gas and met Reza Baluchi, a long distance runner who is "running the rim" to raise money for Children's Hospital in Denver, CO and also to set a time record. We briefly swapped road stories, just like any two rider/runner would, and then exchanged business cards and wished each other a safe journey. You can learn about his project at www.runwithreza.org. Hwy 17 is one sweet road and lived up to it's reputation as a must road for bikers. For the most part it goes across farmlands planted in corn, tobacco and some other crops that I could not identify. After entering into South Carolina I took the advise of a women at the welcome center and went around Myrtle Beach to reach my nights destination at Murrells Inlet, SC. Just as I was nearing the hotel the sky opened up with a typical summer afternoon rainstorm, Welcome back to the South!
Today was a short riding day over to Charleston, SC. Again taking U.S. 17 I traveled through forests of southern yellow pine and vibrant wetlands as I approached Charleston. With an unstable atmosphere, rain was eminent at anytime, but today I managed to get into my hotel before the showers began. I plan on exploring Charleston tomorrow before leaving for my next stop, Savannah, GA.
Rim Day 76: July 7, 2007 This begins week 12 of my ride as I start down the East coast towards Key West FL. After leaving Absecon NJ I traveled to Cape May Point which is the southern most point in New Jersey. Using the Garden State Parkway made the trip easy and the road was great. At Cape May there is ferry service over to Lewis Delaware. I along with several other bikes were allowed to board first and during the tie down of our bikes I got acquainted with a family of riders from Maryland. They were headed to Dover, DE for the Delaware-Maryland H.O.G. Rally were they were volunteer staff members. After chatting and trading road stories with Byron, who is also a long-distance rider, I decided to join them on the short trip north up to Dover to get another ABC of Touring point. For those of you who are wondering what the ABC's of Touring is, here is a short explanation. Every year Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) runs a contest in which H.O.G. members use the letters of the alphabet to get official pictures of signs for countries, states, counties/parishes, cities, National Parks and Forests, state and national HOG rallies, and HD production facilities. Each picture must include the rider's motorcycle and a copy of the current years HOG Tales magazine and an approved sign showing the name of the state, county, etc. Additionally six pictures must include the rider. So, if you get all the cities in the alphabet, A-Z that is 26 points, all the states that is 50 points and ... well you get the "picture". The more points the higher your prize level is. I have participated in the contest for the last several years and it is a lot of fun say nothing of some real cool prizes.
It was a long riding day with lots of heat, humidity and weekend traffic. My stop for the evening was Elizabeth City, NC and as I eased into the motel and went to shift into neutral I discovered that the shifter linkage coupling had broken off and I was unable to shift the transmission. I managed to park the Glide and get off to ponder my next move. Good thing I was at my motel and had quite accidentally parked in front of my pre-assigned room! After unpacking and cooling down I went out to survey the situation and found a temporary remedy (see picture below). My good fortune continued when I found that there was a HD dealership down the road and while it was too late tonight to get there, the service manager assured me I could get in first thing in the morning.
True to their word they took the Glide first thing this morning, Saturday July 7th, and fixed me up in no time at all. My thanks to Kevin the tech at Outer Banks HD for taking care of the Glide. I followed U.S. 17 down to Williamston NC and decided to explore some of the back roads leading to the Outer Banks (Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, etc.). This area is a mixture of rich farms lands planted with corn and tobacco interspersed with small lakes and expansive wetland areas. Although the temperature reached the mid 90 with a heat index above 100, it was a great ride. I went as far as Columbia NC before heading back to Williamston and the cool refuge of my hotel room. Tomorrow has me going into South Carolina and eventually into the Georgia low country next week - stay tuned!
Rim Day 74: July 5, 2007 I have had a very leisurely 4 day break over the Fourth of July, but back on the "rim" to continue my journey. More about that later, first a quick recap. Leaving Baltimore I took the BW Parkway into Washington, DC. This is a heavily forested road that runs between these two cities and was a great alternative to the interstate. Arriving in DC at our hotel, which is a very short walk to the Mall, Linda and I explored the Capitol and "hill" area. This was my first time sightseeing in DC and although I has seen pictures and movies about the city, I was amazed at the how beautiful the gardens and landscaping were around the monuments. It being the July 3rd, the crowds were huge, but tolerable. The next day we hit the streets early and visited the main Smithsonian Building - "the Castle" which housed information on the various Smithsonian Museums and had several of it's own displays. Next was the Washington and Lincoln Monuments and of course the Reflecting Ponds "I have a dream" and "Jenny - Forest Gump". A special note here: Several readers have asked about the mechanics of my trip in regards to the media events; how they are organized and who sets them up. All of these tasks are handled by a group of dedicated individuals affiliated with America's WETLAND who have an office in Washington, DC. I got a chance to finally meet my media manager, Mary and the office manager Ama. They have done a great and sometimes frustrating job of keeping me on track and in front of the media on my trip. Thank to the entire staff!
Fourth of July was spent with friends in Leesburg, VA and included a wonderful motorcycle trip into the Virginia country side. We shadowed the Shenandoah National Park and traveled on a portion of U.S. Hwy 50 which is the original "National Highway". Thanks again Patty and Michael for the great time.
Today, July 6th Linda traveled back home and I took a route to Absecon, NJ for an event at Atlantic Harley Davidson. I was warmly welcomed by the Atlantic County H.O.G. Chapter who along with Ben and Brenda Petrovic, owners of the dealership, put on a great lunch while we talked about the ride, aftermath of Katrina and wetland restoration. My thanks to Bob E., Director of the chapter and those in attendance. While all this was going on the Glide got a new rear tire, after 14,000 miles, and was treated to an unscheduled oil change (you can never treat your ride too good). A special thanks to Jeremy Torres, service manager at the dealership, for getting me in for service on such short notice. After filling up the greater portion of the afternoon with road stories, the chapter members and I did a photo shoot and we parted ways. This was a fine way to come off my holiday break and I hope it sets the tone for the remainder of my trip.
Rim Day 70: July 1, 2007 After leaving York, PA yesterday I traveled to Gettysburg taking Rte 237 through the Pennsylvania Dutch farmlands. I wove my way through rolling fields planted with corn and hay, separated by neat farm house and out buildings. Once in Gettysburg I stopped by Battlefield Harley Davidson and got direction to the battlefield area. The park is comprised of 18 miles of self guided motorized tour with 16 stops with monuments and cannon lining the road at several points. By following the well marked route you can follow the events of the 3 day battle that occurred on July 1 - 3, 1863.
As I enter the final month of my trip it is quite fitting that my wife Linda has joined me in Baltimore, MD. Taking advantage of the fine weather we took the light rail express into downtown Baltimore and visited the Inner Harbor area. Baltimore has done an excellent job in making this area tourist friendly with several museums, an aquarium and 4 different ships that are open for viewing, including the USS Constellation.
Rim Day 69: June 29, 2007 Thursday brought me to York PA as I traveled through the lush farmlands of Amish/Dutch Pennsylvania. My plans were to tour the Harley Davidson Plant in York and then visit some of the historic building in the city. The HD plant in York produces the Touring and Softail models in the Harley family of motorcycles. As our tour guide explained this the largest of the production facilities and at one time was used to product armaments during World War II. The Motor Company purchased the facility from AMF who at one time actually owned a controlling interest in Harley Davidson. Unfortunately the York facility was gearing up to assemble the new 2008 models so much of the plant was off limits. Even with an amended tour it was still very interesting and I got to see where the my Glide got it's first belch of life!
Today as I waited for the storm front to clear out of the York area I researched out the historic areas of the city to visit. Finally under dry but cloudy skies I set out for Market Street and the York County Heritage Trust. This is collection of restored revolutionary homes, museums and archives. My first stop was the Colonial Court House which is where the Continental Congress met to draw up the Article of Confederation. Next to the Courthouse are 3 restored residences; Plough Tavern - built by a German inn keeper, the quarters that General Gates occupied while in York (colonial general who was responsible for the first victory of the British) and the Bobb Log House - restored home of a weaver who lived in York during the early 1800's. Next on my list was the Agricultural & Industrial Museum which had several fascinating exhibits of machinery and equipment from the mid 1800's. York is a very old town dating from 1740's and is the county seat of York County. The old part of town has the sounds and smell of "gentle decay" that reminded me of uptown New Orleans.
It was past lunch time but I took the suggestion of my tour guide and walked over to a local pub on the river. There I met Michael Helfrich who is very active in cleaning up the Codorus Creek and surrounding rivers. Michael explained that he a RiverKeeper for the area and that he help organized the Lower Susquehanna River Keeper Organization (click here for more information). Michael and the rest of the group were very supportive of my project and put me in touch with some of their local media contacts. My thanks to all of them.
Rim Day 67: June 27, 2007 I had a much needed two day layover in Old Saybrook which in on the Connecticut coast just above New Haven. On Tuesday, June 26 the Friends of Hammonasset State Park, a group of volunteers who provide environmental education and serve as an advocate for the park, invited me to speak at the Meigs Point Nature Center in the park. Members from the local press (click to read) attended and we had a very spirited conversation on the state of America's WETLAND and I learned about the plight of the salt water wetlands in this area. My many thanks to the "Friends" and especially to Beth who arranged the entire event and introduced me to some great Connecticut seafood!
I experienced first hand the heat wave that is gripping the East Coast as I rode from the Connecticut coast through NYC and into Pennsylvania where I am spending the evening. The temperatures spiked into the mid 90's and I felt every degree of it as the Glide faithfully chugged down the road. Tomorrow takes me to York PA where I will the tour a Harley Davidson production facility where the Glide first came to life.
Rim Day 64: June 25, 2007 I arrived back in the U.S. on June 23 and stayed in Machias, ME. This is a small fishing town located on the Machias River which shadows US Hwy 1. The small motel that I stayed in was simple but nice and by evening's end two more bikes had pulled in. The riders were two couples from Kentucky who were trying to ride in each of the lower 48 states, but not all in one ride. We chatted and exchanged experiences about the road and I gave out RTR pins. I got a late start the next day and headed out on Hwy 1 for Acadia National Park. Acadia is said to be the most visited of the National Parks and I believe it. The going was slow into the park due to traffic and there were large numbers of hiker, bicyclers, cage riders and of course a good number of riders. I met one group of riders who had come from Quebec City to visit the park. I shared with them my experiences in their city and told them how I planned to come back someday with Linda. Following a long ride through the park I once again headed south on Hwy 1. It being Sunday, well you know what they say about Sunday drivers, it took me the rest of day to reach my nights destination in Brunswick, ME.
Today, I decided to change my driving pattern and take the super slab south through Portland ME, New Hampshire, Boston MA, Providence RI and into Old Saybrook CT. With the help of my local contact Beth, I found lodging at a great Super 8 Motel and an outstanding meal at Nancy's Rosemary & Sage Bistro. My server Barbara suggested I start off with some "steamers" which are soft shell clams that are found locally. They were delicious. If you are in town don't pass this place up!
Tomorrow I will be at an event in Hammonasset State Park to talk about the America's WETLAND and share information with other groups about wetland and coastal restoration.
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