What a great year! While there were a few somber moments, all-in-all it was another fun-filled time that included a lot of motorcycling memories intermixed with our tandem cycling interests and activities.
Our weekly routine remains fairly unchanged where we end each week with our ‘Finally a Friday’ celebration having cocktails and dinner with our friends David & Deb at Olde Towne Tavern & Grille where we are always warmly welcomed by the owner Billy and our gals Bree & Ashley.
Regular readers may be saying, “But I thought On the Border was your Friday night spot?” That’s true, it was… from November 2002 until this past August we spent just about every Friday night at Old Towne. In fact, that’s where we met David & Deb. Sadly, we lost Jeff our long-time friend behind the bar in July and that coupled with a make-over of the restaurant at the very same time that made it look and feel more like Denny’s than a warm and cozy Cantina just killed it for us.
So, we and our partners in crime, David & Deb, went in search of a new place and landed back at Olde Towne for our Friday nights. Saturday night out continues to be spent at Loco Willy’s with David & Deb as well; yes, we’re creatures of habit.
As for the weekends when we weren’t in town, motorcycling garnered the most weekend trips vs. tandem cycling. In fact, it may have been one of the lightest years for tandem rallies vs. our most ambitious year for motorcycle rallies. Our non-motorcycling trips included just two tandem rallies: one in Athens in Georgia in May and another in Columbus, Georgia in October. We also spent a weekend tandem cycling with friends up in Tennessee, but that was combined with a motorcycle trip which was very cool! We also visited my folks up in Pennsylvania over the 4th of July holiday and are about to head back up tomorrow for the weekend. We also participated in about six or seven one-day tandem club rides. That was about it for non-motorcycle trips.
As for the motorcycle trips, I think I did a pretty good job of capturing most of those in a recent post that recounted our first year as Harley “bagger” owners but have elaborated a bit more in these summaries. The links will take you to the detailed blog entries for the associated trip(s). I must say, Blue has made long trips a lot more easy to do and more comfortable… and it shows; our trip destinations included:
- Helen, Georgia: We made this trip twice in 2014; it’s just such a wonderful ride when you take the back-way up. We did it solo on one occasion and another time with David & Deb.
Dahlolnega, Georgia: This along with Blue Ride has become a nice “default” day ride destination. We found a wonderful restaurant and when we feel like enjoying a nice ride and having lunch out making the trip to Dahlonega has been an easy choice to make. It starts off as the same ride up to Helen, you just stop when you get to Dahlonega!
- Blue Ridge Georgia
: Now that I’ve figured out how to make the trip to Blue Ridge with only one small stretch of four-lane, heading up for lunch at Harvest on Main has become another favorite “we just feel like riding” destination. We sneak up the back way to Canton, Georgia, and then stay on back roads until we get to Ellijay at which point you really have no choice for a semi-direct route to Blue Ridge other than the 4-lane strip of route 515.
- Daytona Beach:
With the temperature hovering around 29°F, in early March we rode down to Daytona Beach for the first time where we met up with two couples — Jeff & Sharon and Chuck & Julie — who we’d met in Panama City Beach the previous fall. I can’t think of too many trips where we had a better time than we did at our first Daytona visit. The ride home in pouring down rain was equally as epic as the ride down.
- Panama City Beach
: Even since we made our first trip to Thunder Beach Spring rally back in 2012 it’s been a must do for us, even when rain is in the forecast. It’s just such a great ride and we always have fun even when we go it alone. For this trip we had expected to be by ourselves, but at the last-minute two of the folks we met at Panama City Beach in the fall — Bobby & Ryan — decided to take us up on our offer of a free place to stay if they happened to find themselves in Panama City Beach. Again, just the best folks and we had a great time.
Nashville, TN: Memorial Day weekend is one of those former tandem weekends that has now become a motorcycle trip opportunity. This past May we headed up to Nashville, TN, with David & Deb for what was our first visit ever to Music City. Once again, rain entered the picture but we still had a great time. We learned enough about Nashville to be all ready for our next trip back now that we have a good lay of the land and a comfortable place to hang-out called the Crossroads Bar.
Smokey Mountains: As part of our 4th of July week-long vacation, we spent the first part of by combining motorcycling and tandem cycling. We rode over the Cherahola Skyway and through The Tail of the Dragon for a 4th of July week of tandem cycling in Tennessee at Sharon &
Tim’s “Club Fred” along with Eric & Linda, Denny & Stephanie and Lisa. After getting home from Tennessee we jumped in the truck and headed up to Pennsylvania to visit my folks for a few days to round out our week off for the 4th of July.
Barber Motorsports Museum: While enjoying one of our last really good ‘Finally a Friday’ visits to On the Border in July, my friend David and I decided that we needed to take a day trip while the two Debbie’s were otherwise indisposed. David had never been to the Barber Motorsports Museum and I always wanted to explore the back way there. There was a little drama with Blue along the way, but no real harm done. We only spent a short time at the museum — less time that I usually do — but that was fine as we had to be back home in time to take the two Debbie’s out to dinner. Just a great way to kill a day riding with a neat destination. The next day we made one of those aforementioned trips up to Blue Ridge for lunch with the two Debbie’s.
Chattanooga: This ended up being a two-fer day, where we started off the day doing a tandem cycling club ride up in Alpharetta, Georgia, and while we were at a store stop on the ride I received a text from Chuck & Julie wanting to know if we’d be interested in doing a motorcycle ride up to Chattanooga. At first there was no way we’d be back in time; however, due to a string of events we ended up making a mid-afternoon trip to “nooga” for dinner and desert. Kinda like Nashville, I learned enough about making this trip that the next time I’ll know to have a plan for what we do once we’re there. In fact, we’ll need to get there early enough to make the most of it and may need to spend the night so that we can truly enjoy the nightlife and not have to ride home after the drunks and drowsy drivers hit I-75 south.
Wheels Through Time Museum: For Labor Day weekend we headed back towards Gatlinburg, Tennessee by way of the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. It was a pretty nice ride up through the North Georgia mountains and the big reward for me was the museum. We only spent a few hours there, which is far less than is needed to properly enjoy and take in all that the museum has to offer. Like so many of our trips, we were once again dodging the rain and that was what also hastened our departure as we wanted to be at our hotel in Gatlinburg before the skies unleashed a torrent of rain. We were successful in that we arrived and had our bags off the bikes just before one storm passed through. We were doubly lucky when we sat out the second rain squall while enjoying cocktails and dinner. The ride back home through Blue Ridge was also pretty nice… yet another one of those visits mentioned earlier. Can’t wait to head back to the Wheels Through Time Museum again next year!
Panama City Beach: As fall arrived so did the fall edition of Thunder Beach down in Panama City Beach, Florida. It was yet another weekend where rain played into the mix, but as always we worked around it and had a great time. Best of all, we were joined by our friends David & Deb and we also met up with Bobby & Carrie Ann, Ryan & Jeanette, Mike & Bettiann, Zack & Katelyn and host of other friends from the northwest “burbs” near Atlanta. However, I will say that next year’s fall edition may be problematic as they’ve moved it later in the month of October and right on the heels of Daytona’s Biketoberfest. I gotta tell ya, as much as we enjoy Panama City Beach, if we had to pick between Biketoberfest and Thunder Beach, Biketoberfest gets the nod…
Daytona Beach: While the ride down to Panama City Beach is a lot more enjoyable than the Daytona ride, Daytona’s Main Street venue of venues, the Iron Horse, White Eagle Lounge, Flagler Beach, Loop Ride and Destination Daytona venue offer a lot more cohesiveness and critical mass than the PCB Thunder Beach venues. Heck, I’m not sure we even made it to half of the venues in Daytona! You really do need to be there from Wednesday to Sunday to even make a dent in it.
Christmas Events: Although covered in a recent entry, this year-in-review wouldn’t be complete without making mention of the Christmas lights rides and our visit to Atherton Place. Our new friends also reintroduced us to the Christmas lights ride tradition last year in December which rekindled a lot of Christmas spirit. So much so that we attempted to re-start the tandem cycling club’s Christmas lights ride this year with some success. But right on the heels of that came the real-deal with our motorcycling friends as well as a wonderful evening spent visiting with seniors at the Atherton Place seniors community and then dinner afterwards. It was a great way to wrap the season with a deeper appreciation for the true meaning of the Christmas season.
Along the way,we’ve met some wonderful folks and our circle of friends and acquaintances continues to grow in every direction and from every thing we do. It’s amazing what can happen when you take the time to introduce yourself; it’s how friendships form and doors to new experiences open.
Our family grew by one with our fifth grandchild and we remain thankful that we’ve not lost any family members over the past 12 months; however, we have lost friends or have friends who have lost friends and family which reminds us to never take life for granted.
While I’m still not sure what the future holds for us — early retirement, perhaps a second career following early retirement, or something else — we’re looking forward to 2015 and more adventures and living in the moment… because every moment is so very important and time is the most scarce resource we have. After all, we don’t know how much time we have, it can’t really be saved and no amount of money can buy you more. Here’s hoping we can continue to share our time with you, in person, by correspondence or just through our blog entries and your comments.