I’m finally back!

It has been a long time since I have posted on the blog. Not long after my last post we had a life changing event happen in our family and I had to take time off from everything to handle it. I am finally ready to start again, and as this blog has always been a diary of sorts about our journey, I want to keep the travel and events in order. I decided to write this next blog picking up on our journey where I left off last summer and bring you to the present in the chronological order of the events.

With that said….I take you back to May 2017….We had finished our trip to Key West and were headed back to Orlando to pick up the bike and head to Tennessee…

This trip started out bad. Hopefully it will get better.

After a cancelled flight and very little sleep, we finally made it to Orlando, collected the bike from my niece and hit the road……we didn’t get far (thank goodness) before I realized that I had left my purse at my nieces house… we turned around and headed back to find it…..It took a bit of time to find (it was in her car) but we finally did and were back on the road and headed through the Ocala forest on our way out of Florida. We ended up spending the first night just across the border in Georgia, slept well and headed back out on the road the next morning excited to get to the Tennessee mountains.

We made our way through Georgia and into Tennessee. Due to all the delay at the beginning of our trip we were trying to get as far as we could that day and found a tiny town (if you can call it that) Ducktown, TN, with a small motel to spend the night. Now this little motel was clean and responsibly comfortable, but you had to check in at the gas station and get your ice from the soda machine there. Quite interesting. After checking in, we realized that we were starving, everything, except the gas station closed around 6 or 7 pm, luckily we found that the Hardee’s stayed open just a bit longer and we were able to get some food.


A big (huge) storm was rolling in that night so they let us park the bike up under the shelter on the sidewalk to keep it dry, which was nice of them….(our cover was destroyed)

After a good night’s sleep, we got up and hit the road. Luckily, although it was cloudy, there didn’t seem to be any rain heading our way so we headed out on the Cherohala Skyway toward Deals Gap, NC. Of course we stopped at the Cherohala Skyway Harley Davidson store. It was a cool little cabin like place.

We continued our ride and stopped at the Cheoah Dam where they filmed the jump scenes from the movie The Fugitive. It was pretty, but looks way bigger in the movie.

We made our way through the beautiful scenery going from Tennessee to North Carolina and on to Deals Gap to take on the Tail of the Dragon. The power was out at the restaurant and store at the bottom (or beginning) of the road because of the storm, but it was plenty busy anyway.

Of course we had to get a picture of the “Tree of Shame”…


We headed up the road on the tail of the dragon and had a blast! We saw two accidents (one pretty bad – the rider was taken out by ambulance, and one that just left the guy shaking his head and waiting on the tow truck) We also saw a frightened bear cub along the side of the road. It is definitely a ride worth taking, just take it carefully.

After the ride up and back down, we stopped at Fontana Village Resort for a late lunch/early dinner. It was very relaxing so we decided to spend the night at the hotel there and get some rest before heading into the mountains further.

Fun day, LATE night!

On our first full day in Key West, I started the morning by sitting out on the balcony at the amazing H2O Suites.  It was so relaxing.  Around lunch time, we ventured out into the city on the bike to explore. If you have never been there it is very hard to describe.  There are narrow streets with lots of people walking, riding bikes and taking in the sites, but no one is in a hurry.


We rode by the “southernmost point” marker and the line to take a picture was crazy so we skipped it and decided to go back late at night.  After making the rounds, we headed back to the hotel to sit by the amazing pool and have some free drinks.  It was a wonderful experience.  The pool is so beautiful and sits on the third floor level above the parking garage.  They had so many unexpected amenities like free sunscreen…which Kirk did NOT use unfortunately…..



As the sun was beginning to go down we headed to the room to take a short nap and shower before going to dinner.  Well, after being in the sun all day, the short nap turned into a long nap.  It was very late when we woke up and got ready for dinner.  We were starving. The turn-down service staff took pity on us and gave us a whole box of dove bars instead of just 2…….

We found an interesting little restaurant called Blue Heaven (that was still open) and had a delicious dinner.

After dinner, I wanted to go to a few of the fun night clubs that they have just for a short time because we had to be up and hit the road in the morning…..That short time turned into 4 a.m…..It was a ton of fun though.  We made it back to the “southernmost point” for a picture on the bike, hit Sloppy Joe’s and a few other places, had a Marine (who was there in his dress uniform for a wedding) buy Kirk a hot dog from a stand, and then made our way back to the room to crash.

We slept in the next morning as long as we could, got our stuff together, checked out and headed over to Ernest Hemingway’s house for a tour before leaving the Keys.  It was an interesting place.  I had no idea that 6 toed cats were his thing….


On the way out of the Keys, we stopped for some dinner at Alabama Jack’s…a well known biker stop.  The band was good.  There were a ton of older people there in square dance gear having a blast and dancing with some older biker dudes… so that was fun.



We spent the night in Homestead and headed up to Orlando the next day to store the bike and hop back on a plane. We had to head back to Ohio so Kirk could get back to work.  It was a very eventful trip and we had a blast.  I would love to go back to the Keys again someday.  There is so much more to see and do.

Headed to Tennessee!!

Hey y’all……We are heading to the mountains in Tennessee over memorial day weekend.  If any of you are in the area hit me up and maybe we can meet up!!!

Also…if you know of a not to miss road to ride please let me know, we are working out our route this week.

Alligators and Champagne

We flew back to Fort Myers and picked up the newly updated bike.  We added new foot pads for Kirk, moved the controls forward and added an engine guard with highway pegs.

After getting everything settled with the bike, we headed towards Everglades City, Florida.  Things were going well until a storm suddenly appeared….and when I say storm, I mean lightning, thunder, the biggest rain drops ever, and even hail.  We could barely see, and it was like being hit with a million bugs and rocks at the same time.  There is not a lot between Fort Myers and Everglades City, and we couldn’t see so, when I saw a small strip mall I pointed Kirk in the direction and we rode up onto the sidewalk to try and get some cover.  Luckily all the businesses there totally understood.  We waited for it to pass, at least enough to move on.


I checked the weather radar and knew another one was coming fast so we headed out trying to make it to the hotel before the next big wave.  We ran into a few more small storms and just kept riding.

Finally, soaking wet, we made it to the hotel.  Unfortunately they did not have a washer or dryer, nor was there a laundry mat in the small town.  So after pouring the water out of our boots…..literally, I rigged them up on the heater and tried to dry our clothes the best I could.


On the up side, the hotel was very nice and clean and the restaurant next door had good food and friendly service.  We did ride to the local little grocery store (if you could call it that) and got something to drink….we really needed a drink after the day we had.  We got our food to go and holed up in the room waiting out the rest of the rain and trying to get warm and dry.

The next morning, Kirk’s jeans still weren’t dry so he opted to wear shorts and his chaps for the day’s ride. We were headed to Key West but had a private airboat tour in the Everglades scheduled along the way.  It was really an amazing experience….and it finished drying my jeans and boots…haha

It rained off and on during the day but we kept going determined to make it all the way to Key West.  We crossed the long bridge that leads into the Keys and stopped just on the other side at the first and last stop in the Keys for a late lunch, some rest and to dry out a little bit.

Once we were well rested we were on our way.  We still had 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West. We traveled over the famous 7 mile bridge, and arrived at the southernmost point in the continental United States. We made it to our hotel where we were greeted with sparkling wine and a beautiful room.

We explored the hotel a bit and then walked over to a cigar bar that I had heard about.  It was an ok place, but what was really interesting was watching the girls at the “gentleman’s” club across the street fight over who knows what and watching the drunk people walk by.   We checked out another little bar down the road a bit ( this is the place where I went to the bathroom and found someone’s underwear thrown in the corner…quite interesting…haha) before calling it a night.


We were exhausted when we walked back to the hotel but we had a great first night in Key West.

Side Trip to California…and Some Horrible News…

I was excited to get away from the snow and cold and head to sunny LA.  My son was fencing with Arizona State University in the Championships there so it was a good excuse to get back to California for a bit.  Unfortunately the weather was so cold while I was there and it was super warm in Ohio…just my luck.  On a good note, my grandson was in Anaheim that same weekend with his other grandparents to go to Disney so I was able to get to spend a day with him.

I picked him up and we headed to Cal Tech to watch “Uncle Boo” fence.

It was nice to see my son and spend the day with him.  The team did well.  The saber team took second place.  My son was a little upset because his best friend, Ryan, decided not to go to the tournament.  He wouldn’t tell Kylar why he wasn’t going…just that he had plans.  Kylar was sure that they would have taken 1st place if Ryan had been there.  All in all though it was a good day.

After we all had In-N-Out Burger, I dropped Leon back off with his other grandparents and got ready to fly back to Ohio.


I returned to Ohio on Monday night. On Tuesday night (or early Wed morning about 1 am) I received a text from my son. His best friend, Ryan (the one who had plans instead of going to fence) went to Sedona, Arizona and jumped off of a bridge and killed himself over the weekend while we were in California…… That was the “plan” he had.  He left a note for my son, but he didn’t find it until it was too late.  It is very tragic.  We all have been dealing with the aftermath of this horrible event.


Being so far away from my son has been the worst because I worry about him every day.  I was not able to go back to Arizona for the funeral because the cost of the flight was outrageous, plus we realized that my son really needed to be with his friends at this time and we would probably be a distraction.  He was surrounded by his girlfriend’s family and the fencing family and had lots of people there for him and. that made me feel better.

A few weeks after the death, my son had a fencing tournament in Cleveland, where we were staying, and I got to spend the weekend with him.  His spirits were good, but there was a sadness in his eyes.  It was his first big fencing tournament since the death and it is something that they would have been doing together.


There were a few moments that broke my heart watching him and seeing the sadness in his face.

If you know of anyone who is depressed or even hints of suicide please take it seriously and know that there are many hotlines and resources that you can reach out to.

I know that this is not the uplifting and fun post that I usually write but this is a hard thing that we are dealing with now.  Our hearts are sad.  It has been a few months now and I am still worried about my son.  He is not the same.  He is going to counseling and we did get him moved out of the dorm room which will help, I am sure.  He is in a place now that allows dogs so he has adopted Ryan’s dog and that helps too.  Sorry this is so long, there was a lot to tell.

Old Friends, Giant Steaks and an Orange Bird…..

Kirk has been working in Ohio for a while now and it seems that whenever we try to fly out of there to go somewhere else, it snows…..a lot!  So this time, when we woke up at the crack of dawn on Friday morning to head to Orlando we were happy to see that the skies were clear.  We got in the truck and headed to the airport….we were almost there when the snow started coming down, and coming down hard.20170303_074717 By the time we reached the airplane, it was almost a blizzard.  We ended up sitting on the plane for quite a while waiting for it to get deiced. This caused us to have to miss our connecting flight.

We, at least had sense enough to call the airline while we were waiting to take off and get booked on a later flight, but because everyone was trying to do the same thing we couldn’t get one out until late in the afternoon.

The plan originally was to get in early in the morning, pick up the bike from the Orlando dealership and ride to Sanford to enjoy some pre-Daytona bike week festivities at the Harley dealership there.

We made it to Orlando with barely enough time to run and get the bike before the dealership closed…or at least we thought…we called as soon as we landed and found that the service center actually closed an hour earlier.  After much begging and pleading we got someone to agree to wait for Kirk to get there to pick up the bike.  It was so late by the time we got to Sanford that we missed all of the festivities we were going there to enjoy, but at least we had the bike.

The next morning we headed over and had some fun listening to the band and looking at the vendors.  I’m glad that we got to at least spend a little bit of time there.

About lunch time we left Sanford and headed to Lakeland to visit an old friend, Tammy, and her new husband, Steve.  We spent the day relaxing by the pool and catching up.  Steve grilled us the biggest steaks I have ever seen.  They were like steaks from the Flintstones…lol…..They were good though and we enjoyed them.




Did I mention that the area that they live in is near a place called Itchepackesassa Creek? We couldn’t pronounce it so we just called it Itchy-poopy-scratchy…haha.

After a good night’s visit and rest, we headed to Sarasota to see the Baltimore Orioles play in a spring training game. Kirk was in heaven.  The weather was amazing and the game was lots of fun.


After the game, we headed to Fort Myers to spend the night, drop the bike at the dealership there (to get some work done) and then head back to cold Ohio.  We stopped along the way at a waterfront restaurant for some dinner and live music.  It was a good day.

Harry Potter, Mickey, and a Burning Bus…

What do these things have in common?  Not much except that we encountered them all when we went back to Orlando to get the bike.

We decided to spend the next 4 days in Orlando and see the sights there before moving on.  We got in late on Thursday so we just picked up the bike and went straight to bed to rest up for the fun of the next few days.  In the morning we got up and decided to ride to the coast before heading to our hotel at Universal Studios.  It was a nice ride and we found a very out of the way little dive restaurant in Titusville to sit and eat at.  It had a great view of Kennedy Space Center.  The food was good too.  It was a relaxing afternoon.


On the way back to Orlando, we encountered an incredibly huge traffic jam.  The traffic was stopped…and by stopped traffic I mean literally people out of their cars and sitting around…with no place to turn around. Apparently they had been there more than an hour.


We made our way towards the front of the pack and settled in for a wait.  We ended up only having to wait about 30 minutes before traffic was able to slowly start moving.  Turns out a tour bus caught on fire. No one was on it except the driver and no one got hurt, thank goodness.



We finally made it to the Polynesian Hotel at Universal Studios. IMG_20170211_102256047_HDR I love this place.


We bought a 2 day pass to Universal Studios so we could really enjoy the parks. The cool thing about staying at this hotel is that you get a fast pass for each person.  They cost about 80 bucks each per day…so that is an amazing perk that most people don’t know about.


Brandi and Tom (my niece and her husband) met us at the hotel the next morning to head out to the park.



We had a great time riding all the rides and spending time in The world of Harry Potter.  The Hogwarts Express is a great way to travel between parks.  It is really cool.


After a long day at the park, we headed over to the Contemporary hotel at Disney World to have dinner with Chef Mickey.  (My niece is crazy about Disney so we had to go of course.)  I had never been to a character dinner before.  It was so much fun.  If you have kids and want to meet the characters and get good pictures with them all, this is the way to do it for sure.  I do think that Goofy is my favorite though.  We had a great night.


The next day, Kirk and I headed back into the park and just rode the water rides.  We were soaked but had a blast.  At the end of a super fun weekend, we took the bike back to Brandi’s place, parked it, headed to the airport and back to Ohio for a few more weeks of work.  Can’t wait to get back and on the road again.

Back on the Bike….Florida

After the holidays, we made our way back to Savannah to pick up the motorcycle and head on our way.  We were heading to St. Augustine, Florida (State #31 for us so far) to meet up with my niece, Brandi, and her husband, Tom, for a fun weekend.  We rented an apartment on AirBnB.  It was a very old house transformed into apartments.  It was nice but quirky to say the least.


We took a day to tour the city.  There is so much to see in St. Augustine…so much history.  It is one of my favorite places.


One of the highlights of this trip was touring the St. Augustine Distillery.

We had a good dinner and then went on a ghost tour.  What would a trip to such a historic city be without a ghost tour.  It was fun scaring Brandi once we were back in the house after the tour too…haha


On Sunday, Brandi and Tom had to head back to Orlando. Kirk and I were left alone…..with a storm rolling in….tornado warnings and blaring wind and rain all around.  We needed dinner, so we cautiously walked a few blocks to the ocean side to see if anything was open. Almost everything was…

We settled in at an open air restaurant/bar and enjoyed the evening.  The storms blew over with no significant issues and we had a nice evening.

Monday morning we headed out along the coast towards Orlando.  We stopped at a nice little restaurant on the water for lunch and a break.

We finally made it to Orlando and dropped off the bike at Brandi’s place until we returned in a few weeks.  It was such a fun time, I forgot to take a lot of pictures..sorry.




Thanksgiving, next to Christmas is my favorite holiday.  This year we spent it at my parents house in one of my favorite places…Fredericksburg, Texas.  All of us went… all three kids, Ariel’s boyfriend, my grandson, my niece, her husband, and Kirk & I. My Aunt Janie and Uncle Ronnie live in another cabin on the same property. It was a full house, but oh so nice.  I love to be surrounded by my family.




On Friday after Thanksgiving, we headed into town to do some shopping and attend the town tree lighting ceremony.  Leon was so fascinated by the lights when they came on.


A bonus this year is that my parents 50th Anniversary was coming up on December 30th. Since everyone was there already, we decided that we would have their anniversary party over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I planned a small but fun party at a local small airport.  They have a unique hotel there with a bar and restaurant.



I was having a hard time thinking about Christmas coming….not having a home for the kids to come together, my decorations in storage and not being able to put them out…..  I think of all the things I miss about having a home these are the type of things that I miss the most.  I love Christmas.  I mean I really really love Christmas! My kids will say that I am a crazy Christmas person, so I was really feeling sad about it all. Kirk and I talked about it a lot and after much deliberation, we decided to take the family on a cruise.  All the kids are adults and don’t really need a bunch of presents and stuff, so it was the perfect thing.  What better way to get to see all of the Christmas decorations that I love and spend quality time with the family?

We went out of Galveston, Texas, on Royal Caribbean to Honduras, Belize and Cozumel.  It was a great time for all of us.




We took the cruise a week before Christmas because one of the girls was going to Spain for Christmas and the other to Mexico.  So Kirk and I went to Arizona to spend actual Christmas with our son, grandson, and friends.


All in all, it turned out to be a wonderful holiday season.  Much better than I had anticipated.

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The previous post “Holidays” was posted without any of my changes or pictures.  If you received notification of this post, please disregard.  I will be posting the correct one soon. Sorry!