As we move from Thanksgiving into December’s traditional religious and holiday celebrations, we also look forward to the opportunities that allow to meet with friends and enjoy each other’s company while sharing the magic that makes Christmas time so special. We’re doubly blessed in that we have two passions that involve riding two-wheeled bikes with some of the best friends anyone could ever hope for. This year we were able to spend some time enjoying both of our passions on Christmas lights rides!
On this past Sunday night we joined our friends Bobby & Carrie Ann, Ryan & Jeanette, Jeff (without Sharon who was under the weather), Tom, and Mike & Bettiann for a nighttime motorcycle tour of exterior Christmas light displays in the Woodstock area and Northern Cobb County. It was something we did for the first time last year, enjoyed immensely and were looking forward to doing again. In fact, while we were enjoying last year’s ride I was reminded that we did a similar Christmas lights ride on bicycles back in the late 90’s and early ’00’s and got the idea in my head to see if there might be some interest among our cycling friends in doing that again.
Fast forward to this year and Wednesday a week ago, we joined about 50 other cyclists — including three other tandem teams — at Atlanta Cycling in Vinings, Georgia for a “brisk” weeknight Christmas lights tour of Vinings and Buckhead and had a blast. Again, if it hadn’t been for last year’s motorcycle Christmas lights tour we most likely would not have been out riding our tandem bicycle last Wednesday night.
Getting back to this Sunday night’s ride…
Although it was totally out of character for me, after I received the invitation for us to join our motorcycling friends for the Sunday night tour of Christmas lights, I decided to decorate ‘Blue’ with some battery-powered LED Christmas lights of her own. While shopping for lights I saw a toy Teddy bear that looked like just the thing to put on our luggage rack to add a little more festive spirit to the occasion.
I took a quick photo of Miss Debbie and “Blue” all dressed-out with the Teddy bear before we left since Miss Debbie, Blue and the bear were both so darn cute. You can ‘almost’ see the LED lights around the rear saddle bags.
As you might guess from Debbie’s attire, the temps weren’t exactly balmy. It was in the middle-40’s as the sun began to set when we headed off to meet our friends at Sixes Tavern for dinner before the ride. It was a nice ride over, but I discovered that my heated gloves weren’t heating which had the makings of a somewhat uncomfortable night with cold hands. Thankfully, I was able to manipulate the wiring harness enough at Sixes Tavern to get the gloves working for the ride; however, it’s probably time to re-do the wiring connections again on my 14-year old Gerbings vest.
Dinner at Sixes Tavern took a little longer than any of expected, but being surrounded by good friends made time fly by; it was a great way to kick-off the evening. However, I was surprised to see Sixes had gutted the end of the restaurant where live bands played. All of the music memorabilia and other wall decorations were gone and it was downright depressing. Turns out, the owners of Sixes Tavern opened a new location in Cartersville, Georgia that now serves as their live entertainment venue. This original location on Sixes Road will now have a DJ on the weekends. Frankly, it felt like the entire restaurant had slipped a bit coinciding with this major change: things just didn’t click during our visit, i.e., they were out of stock on things you wouldn’t expect, beverage orders weren’t well-executed and our large group was assigned to a new server who seemed to be struggling until a second, experienced server stepped in and saved the day. Our food was excellent, but it wouldn’t take too many awkward feeling visits before we’d consider other options in the Bridge Mill area. But I digress…
I’m not sure if I checked to see what time it was when we left, but I’m guessing it was somewhere around 8:00 – 8:30. Our first stop after dinner was the same lovely neighborhood in Bridge Mill with a spectacular lights display that we visited last year. If you checked last year’s entry around Christmas time over on my tandem cycling blog you’d see nearly the same picture of the same house: it’s amazing how folks will go all-out year-after-year with decorations!
Photo above: One of the more ambitious displays in the Bridge Mill community. It’s pretty cool when certain groups of homes and particularly cul-de-sac homeowners all get into it and create a small winter wonderland.
Photo above: Looking back and to the right from the previous location, you can see more of this same homeowner’s elaborate Christmas lights & yard art display.
Photo Above: This home in the Eagle Watch community was pretty amazing. The ladies took a tour of the inside where every room was decorated. There were a total of 18 trees inside the house. Wonderful couple / disabled vet live here with their adult son.
Photo Above: This particular home is located just around the corner from our friends Ryan & Jeanette. Mind you, this view only represents about 20% of the entire display which also features Christmas music and a countdown clock.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that three of the folks who were out with us had to split off from the herd when one of our friends suddenly didn’t feel quite right. Being the kind, caring and giving souls that they are, two of our friends escorted our other friend back to his home just to make sure he got there safely.
Setting aside the slight scare that we had with our friend, it was a nice evening to be out riding with friends and enjoying the cool December air with the sights and sounds of Christmas.
As an encore, on Monday night we joined up with some of the same friends from Sunday and a few others — to include Santa & Mrs. Claus — for a short ride to Wellstar’s Atherton Place, an independent, personal care & memory care community for seniors. Our friends have been visiting Atherton place on flag day and before Christmas for the past several years and I first joined them for the Christmas visit last year. The purpose of the visit is to add a little variety to the resident’s routines by giving them a grand entrance en mass on the motorcycles — a noisy, colorful and fun thing for everyone — then spend an hour meeting with the residents, learning a little about them while signing Christmas carols and inviting the them to take a photo with the Claus’ that they can share with their families. In other words, to share the warmth of the holidays and the spirit of Christmas… giving from the heart and spreading goodwill simply for the love of it.
Photo Above: Our sponsor Al (aka hippie) greets the residents and introduces Santa & Mrs Clause while part of the crew queues up along the atrium for carols and prepares to “work the crowd”.
Photo Above: Miss Debbie was able to join me this year and we both had a wonderful time meeting Atherton’s wonderful and interesting residents. Harley the bear even came out for the evening.
After our visit, 10 of the 13 or so folks who visited Atherton took another short ride — in a light rain — over to a local restaurant for some additional social time and dinner while we let the heavier rain pass. As you’d imagine, Santa & Mrs. Claus created quite a stir when they walked in the restaurant… a stir amongst the adults! Really, I don’t believe there were any children on hand, but the wait staff truly enjoyed having “Santa” in their midst. Again, it all just added to our enjoyment of the Christmas season and reminded me and Debbie of just how fortunate and blessed we are to have such good and loving people in our lives.
As we rode home on rain-soaked roads around 10:00pm with temps hovering around 50*F it turns out we were both having similar thoughts: we truly have a wonderful life together filled with love, adventure and some of the best friends anyone could hope for. In fact, I think we both wanted to point the bike North, South, East or West and head into the night for points unknown just to keep the moment alive. But, reality being what is, we opted to head for home since we both had to be up at 5:00am for the start of our respective work days. After all, work has its own rewards and allows us to appreciate how we spend our down time all that much more!
Photo Above: Just a couple more night time beauty shots of Blue with her lights aglow. I can definitely see where a few more strings of lights are needed! 108 colorful LEDs just aren’t quite enough! I’m guessing I’ll just leave them on through the holidays… Miss Debbie says we should leave them on all year! No, that’s definitely not happening…
Let me close with heartfelt and sincere warm wishes for a blessed Christmas, happy Hanukkah, heri za Kwanzaa, merry Yule and an otherwise wonderful holiday season as we head into winter and begin a new year!