HOG (Harley Owners Group) Rally – Cookesville, Tennessee

We had an amazing week in the Bahama islands, now it is time to hit the roads of Tennessee.

We met our friends, Rod and Jaime, in Cookesville for the HOG Rally. A week of organized rides, interesting and fun day trips and lots of laugher.

Our first ride took us to Cumberland Caverns-Home of the Bluegrass Underground. Literally, a bluegrass band in underground caverns. Unique and very beautiful. You snake through the cavern to end up at this build in amphitheater. A huge chandelier was donated to the cavern by a hotel in NY that was being renovated. Amazing that they erected this piece of artwork 50-60 feet in the air and secured it into the rock ceiling! The “amphitheater” was carved into the side of the underground cavern. There are 32 miles of caves that can be toured.  We went as far as the music was going to take us and “dined” on chips, hotdogs and pulled pork sandwiches (not gourmet but it hit the spot). A very cool way to start the week.

Our second day at the rally takes us to prison. Yes, I said prison! At the end of a fantasitc ride through the foothills of Tennessee, we ended up at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. It opened in 1896 and closed in 2009. It housed James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.  It is now open for public tours.  If prison tours were mandatory for the youth in America, crime would go down considerably. Talking about being scared straight.  This place would do it! 3 hours was enought for all of us 🙂

 

We really did it up that last day. We went rogue, split away from the group and headed out on our own to Jack Daniels Distillary.  We have our own organizer and her name is Jaime Larue! Jaime picked our desitination for this sunny day and we had a great time. Rod and Jaimes friends, Rodney and Denise drove in from Alabama to meet us. That was a nice suprise.

The tour at the distillary was really interesting.  The water used in all the whiskeys comes from the spring that is on site.  The corn mush is recycled and sold to local farmers for live stock meal.  The barrels are made into JD souveniers.  Amazing how a young orphaned boy, raised by a local lay preacher and moonshine distiller, turned his trade into the number one whiskey distillary in the United States. The story is not only interesting but inspiring.  This is a “must stop” if you are in Lynchburg, whether you drink whiskey or not. In our case, we do like whiskey so after the tour, we treated ourselves to the whiskey tasting.  We all came out with our favorites, but Jaime and I really liked the Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey. Yummy!

Our next stop, shopping of course.  The Lynchburg General Store is owned and operated by Jack Daniels.  There are over 20 local artisians that take the old barrels and create amazing pieces of art work.  Rod and Jaime purchased this amazing barrel bar set with table and stools. It will go perfect in their home.  A perfect way to end our Tennessee HOG Rally trip!

 

A great week in North Carolina!

After a great trip throughout New England, it was time to head back South. Our first stop in North Carolina was Asheville.  We stayed at this great campground called Campfire Lodgings.  We secured one of of spots that overlooked the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We found a couple of great hikes when we visited the Blue Ridge Mountains visitors center. An Asheville visit would not be complete without a visit to the Omni Grove Park Inn for cocktails and appetizers on the veranda. The hotel has such great history and is a great place to visit while in the Asheville area.

It was time to stop by the house to see the progress. Wow! Things were moving right along. The superior walls were already up and they were getting ready for the lower level slab. So exciting.

Mother’s Day was a beautiful sunny day!  We took the Harley into Blowing Rock for lunch and a walk through the town.  We stopped off at Sunset Vine and picked up an array of cheese and meats for a charcuterie dinner on the property.  A bottle of Caymus, desert from Kilwin’s, a fire and magnificent sunset.  Mother’s Day was a success.

New York City, the city that never sleeps

We decided to take a break from nature and head to NYC! A two day diversion that included a Broadway show, Rockefeller Observation Tower, a stop at FOX News, NBC Studios, St Patricks Cathedral, 9/11 Museum Tour and the Statue of Liberty Ferry Cruise. We crammed in a lot in a short weekend.  NYC is an experience, even if you just walk around the city.  We stayed across the Hudson at Liberty Harbor RV in New Jersey. A 15 minute ferry ride and whah la! we were in the City.

Broadway – Six Degrees of Separation

Great show. We are a fan of Allison Janney and she did not disappoint.

 

Rockefeller Observation Tower

The ticket gets you up to the observation tower (which is pretty cool) and a walk through history that tells you about the Rockefeller family, the building, the artwork that fills the halls and the famous lighting of the Christmas Tree each year.

 

Photo ops along the way 

St Patricks Cathedral – So beautiful 

 

National September 11 Memorial Museum 

Statue of Liberty/Manhatten Ferry Cruise/Fire Boat 343

She is more grand then you can imagine. A picture does not do her any justice. The boat’s name, Fire Boat 343, comes from the number of FDNY members were killed in the line of duty on September 11th, 2001.

 

 

Maine-Acadia National Park-Sunrises and Hiking. Definitely one with nature!

Acadia National Park-Cadillac Mountain

You cannot plan a trip to New England without going to Maine.  All blogs, Trip Advisor, travel guides and people said sunset on Cadillac Mountain is a must! Dress warm, get there early, find a good seat, and bring a camera. We arrived at 4:30 a.m. The sun was already peaking through behind the mountains emanating a beautiful bright orange as we arrived. It is an incredible experience. A sunrise to remember.

 

Acadia National Park- Hikes – Gotham and North/South Bubble Trails

There are no shortage of trails in Acadia National Park.  You get the best of both worlds, woods and water. The hikes are breezy and refreshing along with being a visual wonderland. We chose two moderate hikes.  Perfect way to get a great work out for 2 hours in the fresh air.

Gotham Trail

North/South Bubble Trails

Lobstah Dinner

We ended our Maine trip with a relaxing, delicious dinner at Galyn’s Bar Harbor. Yummy!

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Bawstin (Boston), The “Cape” and a bit of the “burbs”

Union Oyster House

No sooner did we arrive that we went to the station, purchased out T weekly pass and headed into the city.  First stop, Union Oyster House.  That is always a must when we visit Boston.  I do not think I ever sat in the restaurant and this time was no exception.  Ted and I got our “usual” seat at the bar and ordered our usual dozen oysters on the half shell. Is there really any other better way to eat them? I think not 🙂 Between 2 men behind the bar, they shuck over 1700 per day on a weekday.  That’s a lot of oysters! The bar seats maybe 8 -10 people. You are bound to strike up a conversation with someone who is sitting inches away.  A Samuel Adams (they make a special brew just for Union Oyster House) and a dozen oysters. We are off to a good start!

 

Massachusetts State House

After lunch, we moved on the the Massachusetts State House.  They were starting a tour in 2 minutes when we arrived (last one of the day), so we jumped at the opportunity. Our guide was a young man who was a political science major.  He had a real passion for the history of the United States  and Massachusetts and it came through in his delivery of all the information he shared with us. The tour starts on the main level in Doric Hall.  There they have a magnificent portrait of Abraham Lincoln painted by Albion Bicknell around 1900.  A short distance away in the same hall is an 1826 sculpture of George Washington by Sir Francis Chantrey.  Amazing pieces of art and history.

We learned that Massachusetts is one of three states in the nation where the Governor does not live in an official governors’ residence. The existing Governor, Charlie Baker, has 10 different offices throughout the building but he has to catch the T at the end of the night just like his staff (well maybe not the T-but he does have to leave).

We learned what the state motto means that is on the Massachusetts state seal in Latin, “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem”.  Loosely translated into English it means, “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty”.

We were taken to the flag room (oldest flag in the room from 1620, Town of Plymouth), through many of the hallways which displayed beautiful paintings and more sculptures, but the best was the House of Representatives of Massachusetts. Very impressive room filled with history. The desks are all original. To the top right of each, there is a round well. Originally they were used as an ink well, then ashtrays, now cup holders. Cool tid-bit of info. If you are going to Boston, put this stop on your list.

 

Sox vs Yankees 

We cannot visit Boston without going to a Red Sox game and having a beer at the Cask n Flagon. Period. It has become “our tradition”. No matter the crowds, the weather (cold) or where we sit in the stadium.  Going to a Sox game is exhilarating and cult like all at the same time. The fans are loyalists. They eat, breath and drink the Sox. It is a day’s celebration (even on a work day). Fenway is always full to capacity. You can’t help but have a good time.  We did not win 😦 but we watched the most amazing National Anthem sung by Red Lion HS Choir (PA) . I always shed a tear when I hear that song. This time was no different.  We cheered on the Sox, we sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame during the Seventh Inning Stretch, ate junk food and drank beer. A perfect night in Boston.

 

U.S.S Constitution “Old Ironside” 

What better way then to work off the “Boston calories”, then to walk the Freedom Trail. This 2.5 mile walk takes you to 16 locations significant to the history of Boston and the United States.  You follow a brick path and each location is marked along the way.  This trip we visited the Bunker Hill Monument and the U.S.S Constitution.  The Bunker Hill Monument was erected to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill. If you are in the “mood”, you can walk to the top of the monument. A mere 294 steps to the top.  We were NOT in the mood 🙂

The U.S.S Constitution is breathtaking.  A magnificent wooden-hulled, three-masted frigate of the United States Navy named by President George Washington. It was launched in 1797. She is the worlds oldest commissioned navel vessel afloat.  The tour is given by Naval Officers.  They tell you about the history of her launching, survival during war and then allow you to wander around the vessel on your own. The museum is just as interesting and enlightening.  A great stop on the Freedom Trail.

 

New England Aquarium

What do you do on a rainy day in Boson? Go to the New England Aquarium and the IMAX Theater.  The aquarium is huge. The tank that is in the center is 23 ft deep by 40 ft wide.  It holds over 100 species of marine life.  Just beautiful. There are tanks on every level filled with marine life from different continents and regions of the U.S. Super cool. Especially if you have little ones.  Hands down, the penguins are the most popular attraction.  So cute. I love those little creatures.

 

Cape Cod “The Cape”-Provincetown

Timing is everything, especially with the weather! With a beautiful day in our future, we decided to take the bike and drive down to Provincetown on The Cape.  Such a nice ride. Provincetown is an adorable little artsy town with shops, restaurants and great scenic views of the water.  It is a great day trip to walk around, ride a bike or go whale watching. Better yet, get a “lobstah” roll and a cocktail. Thats how we ended our day in Provincetown 🙂

 

 

Hingham -A walk and a burger

Ted lived in Hingham for 6 years back in his 20’s (long, long ago) so we decided to do a day visit. To start the day we went on a great walk through a great park, Worlds End.  It was a crisp day so we knocked out a 3 mile walk that gives you the most amazing views of the Boston skyline. Feeling super refreshed and hungry, we headed off to lunch.

We made our way to Wahlburgers (yes, there is a theme here-we exercise and reward ourselves)  A seat at the bar, a beer and the best (and I mean best) burger I have ever eaten. Perfect way to send off our trip through Massachusetts.

Loves Massachusetts, but as you know, we are onward and upward (literally)!

Heading to Maine…………

 

 

Where we stayed in MA- Normandy Farms est. 1759. 

Ted and I found this little jewel (not so little) of a campground in MA called Normandy Farms. Established in 1759 by Francis Daniels.  It is a beautiful camp ground nestled in between Boston and Cape Cod.  It has over 500 sites on property and activities for all ages. If you are an RV or camping enthusiast, this is the place to stay when you are in this area. It is a great central location with many amenities on site.

 

 

 

Lake Placid- Another Mountain Hike and some great Olympic History

Mount Van Hoevenberg

We really enjoyed Lake Placid. Such a special little town, filled with a bunch to do and lovely people. Ted and I spent 6 days there and did not run out of things to do.  It is an area of the United States bejeweled in the most beautiful waterfalls, lakes, rivers, forests and mountains as far as the eye can see.  There were so many trails to hike, it was hard to decide which ones to do in such limited time.  We had already hiked Mount Jo.  This particular day we were onward and upward (literally). Our next hike was suggested to us by a trail guide.  Mount Van Hoevenberg is home of the Olympic bobsled and luge run. The opposite side of the mountain are some incredible hiking trails. Along the way, you run into the most awesome beaver damn.  You just cannot believe this amazing creation was completed by these little animals. The hike itself was muddy, cold and wet. Half way up the mountain, I asked Ted “the” question, “Are we there yet?”.  He responded with, ” We are about 1/2 way there, however if you want to QUIT at any time, let me know and we can turn around”.  Hmmm, challenge on.  Needless to say, we made it up to the top.  It was worth it! What a view!

Lake Placid Olympic Museum and Olympic Ski Jump Complex

Lake Placid was host of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.  Such great history.  They converted many of the competitive sites to tourist attractions.  The fees to these attractions continue to support the local athletes.  Speaking of “local athletes” Lake Placid has 3 generations of Olympians from the Shea family.  Grandfather, Jack Shea won two Gold metals for speed skating in the 1932 Olympics. His son, Jim Shea Jr competed in the 1964 Winter Games and grandson Jimmy Shea competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics brining the U.S home a gold in the skeleton race.  Super cool!

The olympic ski jumps are HUGE! You can see them from miles away. As you approach the facility they just engulf their space.  For a small fee,

We visited the hockey arena, olympic museum and the Olympic Ski Jump Complex.  They olympic museum is filled with very interesting tid-bits of history going back to when the Olympics originated. They have the coats on display from the opening ceremonies, the Olympic Torches and many other interesting pieces of ceremonies.

We met some really nice people, ate some really good food and needless to say, tried out the delicious local brew (shout out to “Jersey John” at The Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood Restaurant) Lake Placid was a success!

Mount Jo Loop-We reached the Summit!

We made our way to the Adirondack mountains and settled in Lake Placid. Yes, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. We may be a little early for the “season”, but we are definitely enjoying this area already. We found this fantastic hike , Mount Jo Loop, on Trip Advisor and decided to take it on (once I purchased my bear bell and bear whistle). At a crisp 44 degrees, the hike was a perfect way to start off our time in Lake Placid.  The actual hike is just over 2 miles and the summit 700 feet.  A very beautiful and peaceful trail. A bit challenging due to the rocks, mud, and melting snow.  You definitely have to watch your footing as you ascend up.  It was an invigorating hike up and it was worth every step.  When you reach the top, you have a magnificent view of the forest and lakes.  The best part was the workout the and feeling of accomplishment when we were finished!

Of course we had to reward ourselves with a trip to the local pub.  We landed at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery. We are really enjoying meeting the locals (usually the bar tenders 🙂 and trying the local beers.  All in all, a perfect day (again)!

Oh Canada!

What better way to follow up Easter in Niagara Falls then to head over the border for  a quick visit to Toronto Canada?!

We headed over to the CN Tower for lunch at Restaurant 360 (for those of you from Fort Lauderdale, it is like Pier 66 and spins as you eat 🙂 As we sipped on our cocktails (mmmm good), we enjoyed the view of the city.  It was really nice to see a beautiful body of water and boats just below us.  Felt like a little piece of home.  The weather was spectacular and the sky blue and clear.

We could not leave without going down to the observation deck.  Step outside onto the deck outside (it is gated in) and feel the cool breeze as you look over the city.  If you are afraid of heights, this may not be for you.

One floor down you can stand on the glass floor that looks straight down 1,122 ft!  The total area is 256 s/f with people fighting to stand on the panels to take pictures.  Ted and I we very cautiously stepped on, took pictures and got the heck off!

On our way to the CN Tower we passed a local pub with the name Loose Moose. The sign on the outside reads, ” 26 years of Unproductive Mornings”.  Now that’s funny. Many of you out there know exactly how that feels! You know we were not leaving Toronto without stopping in at the Loose Moose.  We tried some yummy local beers and watched the local news (same crap just a different Country).

These are two must visits next time you are in Toronto.

What better way to end the day then with a campfire by Ted. Toasty toes 🙂

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Harley Davidson Production Plant- York PA-If you have a Harley, you have to visit

We passed a “Harley-Davidson” highway street sign that was the size of one of the overhead signs on 95. We knew it was more than a dealership. So glad we did a bit of research.  We found out it was the Vehicle Operations Division of Harley Davidson, basically, where the bikes are produced.

The “steel toe tour” starts off with a 10 minute movie about the history of Harley Davidson. That in itself was so interesting.  Makes you want to buy one right there and then 🙂 Our tour guide was super entertaining. A frustrated comedian who does stand up while guiding us through this super huge, super awesome facility.

It is a 2 hour tour. They bring you through the entire factory (except painting booth) to show how the bikes are assembled from start to finish.  By the time we left, 16 bikes were assembled and ready to ship out to a dealership.You don’t need to own a Harley to take this tour. It is worth the visit.