I’m going to attempt to provide a short recap of our truncated visit to Biketoberfest at Daytona Beach on 15 – 17 October, noting that brevity has never been my strong suit.
As a follow-up to last weekend’s report, I only had a few things on my to-do list for the days leading up to our 450-mile ride down to Daytona on Thursday.
- First up was picking up my Extended Service Plan contract & card so I’d have that on hand “just in case”. Harley-Davidson of Atlanta’s Business Manager, Virginia, had me all set-up and ready to go when I popped in at noon on Tuesday. I’d wanted to visit with Kelly in service a bit while I was there but she was swamped so a friendly wave had to suffice.
- I decided to move up the rest of the 10k fluid change before heading off to Daytona vs. after. So, on the way back to the office I picked up two quarts of Red Line Primary Case Oil, two quarts of Red Line V-Twin Transmission Oil and a few Primary Case Cover gaskets.
- I left work a little early on Wednesday so I’d have time to do some banking and pick-up dry cleaning before heading home to finish the pre-flight on Blue.
- The Pre-flight including the aforementioned Primary & Transmission Oil changes. Thankfully, they were relatively uneventful, other than discovering I needed a new transmission filler o-ring gasket: not sure why those always seem to get chewed-up.
- The Pre-flight also included a tire-pressure check: good thing too! For some reason — perhaps because it’s a new rear tire — the pressure was well down from where it had been set at the dealership. I topped it off and verified that the front tire was still within spec. I should note it held pressure just fine after that; weird.
- Of course we had to eat. And, since we’d be out-of-town on Friday & Saturday, we felt we’d need one last visit to Loco’s to fill that void and to get an Ahi Poke fix. It’s got to be one of our favorite meals and it’s also pretty close to being downright healthy!
- Finally, it was time to pack: geez-o-pete we seem to take a lot of stuff on these trips. However, that said, we’ve never been lacking for gear when the weather took a strange twist and Miss Debbie always has options for what to wear each day and night. Other “stuff” like laptops, my straw western hat (it’s what I use to keep from getting a sun-burned head when we’re walking around at venues) helped to fill up all of the luggage capacity on Blue.
- I think we were in bed by 11:00pm as our 5:00am wake-up would come early as would our 6:10am rendezvous with our friends Chuck & Julie for the ride down.
The Ride Down: We were running a little late getting out of the house, but still arrived at our meeting point — a BP gas station just off the I-575 / I-75 interchange — at 6:05am giving us enough time to top off the gas tank, say our hello’s, confirm the travel plan and be on the way by 6:15am.
It had been a while since we’d seen our friends Chuck & Julie, so it was shaping up to be a great trip down as they’re always great fun to be with. They’d been out on the road quite a bit so imagine my surprise when Julie pointed over towards their black Harley… which was clearly not the one I expected to see. Sure enough, they’d upgraded from their 2012 Street Glide to a 2015 Ultra Limited during the past few days: nice! I was envious of that 103″ water head, as I’d love to have a cooler running motor next to my left leg! The very high engine heat is the ONLY thing that bothers me with the 110″ motor on Blue.
Sadly, our usual traveling companions and partners in crime, David & Deb, had to work-in a business trip to Ocala, Florida, which meant they’d be driving down with their Harley in tow instead of joining for the ride as in past years. However, they’d be meeting us down in Daytona later in the day, so that was all goodness!
The trip down was fairly uneventful. It was a bit chilly at 49°F when we rolled-out, but our heated jacket liners and gloves served us well and kept us warm all morning long. Well, I say all morning; Debbie got a little ahead of the weather and opted to forego her heated jacket & gloves at our 160-mile gas stop in Eastman, Georgia. I’m pretty sure she was chilly until we hit Waycross a few hours later.
Applebee’s: We took Chuck & Julie our back way down along the Golden Isles Expressway — the lightly traveled route we showcased in a short video I put together after our Spring trip to Daytona — and made our tradition lunch time stop at Applebee’s in Waycross, Georgia. It’s the right place at the right time along the right route!
Finn’s: The ride into Florida took us down through Kingsland, Georgia and onto I-95 via Route 17 which features a very cool-looking blue bridge at the state line: it’s the best crossing point into Florida that I know of in terms of being a great visual. After that it was a straight but mind-numbing shot down I-95 to the exit for Flagler Beach, where we headed for a mid-afternoon kick-off celebration at Finn’s Rooftop with friends who arrived earlier that day.
From Finn’s, our friends headed off via I-95 to their Condo in Daytona Beach Shores while Debbie and I headed South on AIA to the north end of the Ormond Scenic Loop as that seemed like a more scenic way to get to our hotel near Main Street without hitting 50 stop lights along AIA. At left is a snapshot through Blue’s windscreen and at right a couple of happy campers enjoying the lightly travelled (ha, ha) backroads of Ormond Beach, Florida.
Our Hotel: The Plaza Hotel & Resort was an unknown commodity for us as we’d booked it based on on-line reviews through a 3rd party booking site. It was characterized as a four-star hotel which is usually pretty nice. Well, I’d characterize it as place with 4-star amenities and common areas, with a 4-star staff and 2-star infrastructure and rooms. Seriously, if we’d have only visited the lobby, dining rooms, spa and other areas of the resort we would have remained impressed.
However, the 2 of 3 elevators weren’t working all the time (we were on the 12th floor, so forget about the stairs) and the room we stayed in truly looked like something you’d see in a $75/night motel from the 60’s. The bathroom was smaller than your average powder room + a tub. Other than the powder room size sink top, there as no where to put anything other than the commode lid, top and two small nick-nack shelves over the commode. ‘Chunks’ of paint were missing from the walls and ceiling which had no doubt been painted over-and-over again for decades and the bathroom door frame was rusting as the bottom of the door itself was rotting from water damage, etc. When we fired-up the heat as the outside temps dropped over night, it was pretty clear the heat hadn’t been on in a long time as the smoke detector in the room was set-off by the dust burning off the coils of the heating element. The furnishings in our double-queen room looked to have been sized for a larger room and were likely “hand-me-downs” from a suite that were given a second life in these studio hotel rooms.
Again, not trying to bash… just an honest review in case anyone reads our blog as I wouldn’t want them to think we endorsed staying there. Oh, and lets talk location: staying on the ocean near Main Street sounds like a great choice… until you quickly realize A1A near Main Street is where just about every idiot who thinks they have a hot motorcycle goes wide-open throttle or pegs the rev limiter on their in-line-four from 11:00pm until 3:0am. Seriously, there were actually ear plugs left on our bed by the hotel staff… it’s that bad. Pretty sure we’ll stick with places down in Daytona Beach Shores for future Daytona Weekends.
Dinner: We met our friends down in Daytona Beach Shores at a place popular with the locals call Boondocks. What a great call that was! All of the folks who worked there were seasoned staff who kept things light and friendly. The food I had was outstanding — a customized New York Strip sandwich, i.e., it was s NY Strip steak with two sides that I had them turn into a sandwich by adding a hoagie roll; yummy! And, well, our dining companions made it a great time. We had some of the usual suspects, but not all: Jeff & Sharon were there along with April from New Orleans, Bobby & Carrie Ann and Chuck and Julie. David & Deb decided to pass but would catch up with us a bit later.
Main Street Station: After dinner we headed down to “Main Street Station” and visited a few of the venues. There was a really good band at the Full Moon Saloon and I’m pretty sure the lead singer was also the lead guitar player for another band we saw at Full Moon back in 2014 called Hypersona; they were off the charts great. We joined back up with our friends David & Deb at Full Moon; they’d been up the way on A1A for late dinner at Riptide: it was good to have them back in the fold. After visiting a few more venues that just didn’t rock our souls, we called it a night after a long day and headed back to our hotel. Parking was a bit of a challenge as spaces that would easily accommodate four motorcycles only had two as no one wanted to be penned-in the following day.
Highlight of the day was, as always, time spent with all of our friends. We’ve done some of these venues by ourselves on previous visits and always had a good time, but what makes them a great time is having friends to share the experience with: we’ve got great friends!!
Friday started off with about an hour and half of remote office work around 6:30am with an amazing sunrise as my backdrop. It’s hard to complain about doing a little work during your vacation when the otherwise quiet morning comes with scenery like this!
Walk on the Beach: As is our tradition when we visit Daytona or Panama City Beaches, we began our day with a nice walk along the beach. However, I will note that for some reason Debbie seemed to be a bit ambitious about the distance and extended what is normally a pretty good 3-mile walk on the beach to 5-miles. Yeah, well…. during that hour and 20 minutes we both developed pretty good blisters on our heels as walking on the sand at Daytona isn’t all that different from walking on concrete. Moreover, coupled with a late start, we found ourselves playing catch-up with our friends as they called to let us know they were heading out in about 20 minutes just as we had another 15-minutes of walking to do just to get back to our hotel!!
On the bright side, it all worked out just fine. We continued to enjoy a relaxing morning at our hotel and hatched an alternate plan to visit our dear friend Misty at Skip’s Western Wear near the Speedway before heading off to Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona where we’d meet up with our friends.
The Loop Ride: In the mean time, our friends — Bobby & Carrie Ann, Jeff & Sharon, Chuck & Julie and April — headed north on A1A towards the Ormond Beach Loop enroute to Rossmeyer’s and, later, to the White Eagle Lounge. There’s no better ride than the loop in and around Daytona if you’re into the journey more so than the destination. The trick is timing it so you don’t have to deal with a lot of traffic. We’ve done that a couple of times and it’s the best! The only thing that could be better than an early morning motorcycle ride on the lightly traveled loop would be an early morning tandem bicycle ride on the lightly traveled loop!!!
Skips Western Wear & Misty: Back up on the west side of town at Skips, Misty worked her magic with Miss Debbie, playing dress up Barbie in way that always adds more “stuff” to her already well-stocked closet. In fact, we told Misty that we were just stopping by to say hello as Debbie said she’s already got more clothing than she can wear. Misty laughed, like there’s ever been too many clothes.
Well son-of-a-gun if she didn’t have some really nice things pulled out that Debbie just makes look better than the designers ever imagined. The photo at right shows Debbie sporting a new pair of skinny-leg Miss Me jeans tucked into her four-year-old Lucchese “Charlie Horse” fashion boots (no, we didn’t buy any boots… whew) and perhaps the best-looking, best-quality Daytona Beach Bike Week t-shirt I’ve ever seen. But, then again, it’s not the shirt, it’s the presentation of the shirt!!! In that regard I’m somewhat biased.
Rossmeyer’s & Houligan’s: After visiting and shopping with Misty we loaded up Blue’s saddlebags with Miss Debbie’s new duds and headed off for Rossmeyer’s. Debbie agreed to put up with about 5 minutes at freeway speeds so we could avoid the ubiquitous hour-long traffic jam on Route 1 headed to Rossmeyer’s from Ormond Beach. Sure enough, we exited the freeway and were in the parking lot at Houligan’s in about 3 minutes. Our friends David & Deb were walking out of the restaurant just as we rolled-in and we joined them in our search for the rest of the group.
We found Bobby first as we were sitting down to eat some much-needed food from a vendor cart outside Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson showroom. It didn’t take us too long to find the rest of the folks inside Rossmeyer’s shopping for mementos of the visit. We had a pretty great time inside and outside at the one bar featuring a cute gal with an attention-getting outfit before heading over to Houligans with about 1/2 of our group.
The White Eagle Lounge / Not! Imagine our surprise upon finding the White Eagle closed when we arrived on a Friday afternoon. It was a Dive Bar like no other and while the sign says “remodeling” the lack of any evidence would suggest the place was finally shut-down by the health department on went out of business. What a shame, as it was always a great time hanging at the White Eagle. With that option taken off the table, we headed back towards Daytona Beach via the Ormond Beach Loop.
We lead our friends out of the loop and through the River Street venue before hoping on the Oakridge Boulevard Bridge to get back to our hotel where we’d relax and clean-up before heading to the Oyster Pub for dinner around 7:00pm.
Although we never made it to dinner, our friends carried on without us and had a great time. Carrie Ann & Bobby had a chance to spend time with Misty who they had also met through visits to Horsetown and that was awesome.
Sadly, it sounds like the Oyster Pub’s oysters were well below par, which is a buzz-kill since that’s always been one of the highlights. Sad when you can get better oysters at a sports bar in Marietta than an oyster pub in Daytona Beach. From all accounts, the usual merriment followed down on Main Street.
Heading Home Early: For a variety of reasons, we decided to head home on Saturday instead of Sunday and our friends David & Deb called around 10:30am to let us know they would be more than willing to head home with us.
in Daytona: We were able to keep up with the various goings-on of our other friends as they moved from their brunch stop at Racing’s North Turn to the Cabbage Patch and then on to the Iron Horse Saloon. From all of the photos and postings that we were able to read, it sure looks like they had a great time!!
The Trip: The trip home was thankfully uneventful. We stopped just outside of Jacksonville at a Subway for lunch; always a great meal when we’re on the road and want to grab some good food without hitting a sit-down / wait-on-me restaurant or heaven forbid, a true fast-food joint. We made the sandwich stop late enough in the afternoon to carry us through until we could reach Loco Willy’s for dinner around 8:30pm. I should note, when we rolled-out of Daytona Beach it was in the mid-80’s and definitely t-shirt weather. By the time we reached our 2nd gas stop in south Georgia it was now jacket liner time. As we passed through Macon, Georgia, I had put on my leather over-pants, leather jacket over the liner and insulated gloves… which by the time we reached chilly Atlanta where it was in the lower 50’s / high 40’s, I was starting to feel the cold in my bones. Sure wish I’d have figured out where to plug-in my heated jacket!!!
Dinner at Loco’s: As with just about every other road trip we made, we ended this one enjoying a meal at Loco Willy’s with David & Deb. It’s the perfect way to end any trip when you need a meal and want good food in a comfortable environment. Add in some great friends and it’s a great dining experience. Love our friends David & Deb; they’re the best and we always have a great time no matter where we go or what we do. Here’s looking forward to sorting things out so we can be ready to roll again when there’s an opportunity!