Category: Travel to USA

We weren’t travelling anywhere today but had the bikes booked in for an oil change at 9am and used the opportunity to check out a little bit of Birmingham before the day got too hot.

The Birmingham area was founded on the basis that it had abundant supplies of coal iron ore and limestone so the right ingredients for making steel and forging (if you’ll pardon the pun) it’s future as a powerhouse of industry. The depression hit heavily but the need for WWII munitions and shipping saw the fortunes of industry revived again. We visited Vulcan Park and Museum which was interesting and covered the industrial history as well as the towns part in the fight for justice and equality, medical breakthroughs and advanced technology.


Vulcan Park, and this is the statue of Vulcan.


Birmingham from the lookout at Vulcan Park.


The only remaining Pig Iron factory in town zoomed in from the lookout. Apparently the molten iron was poured into sand shells and the layout looked like piglets suckling a sow, hence the nick-name of ‘pig iron’ or so the story goes.


A view out over the park, beautifully maintained.


A work shot near the bike shop.


And our hotel the Hilton Garden Inn, just across the road from a massive Children’s Hospital.

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Category: Travel to USA

We’ve had a hot day of riding today with temperatures near the 100F. Glad we got some directions from Kev’s friends of some country roads to use to avoid a lot of Interstates and the bonus this morning was that they were also nice and shaded. Lots of forests, logging and farming areas with hay, silage, sale yards, signs of bull sales …and no cattle in sight so is that because a. there are only hobby farmers properties next to the roads and therefore no cattle visible? I suspect not or b. the cattle activity here is in feedlots not close to the roads … more than likely I suspect. Have continued to see lots of eagles today, I think we’ve seen way more this trip than any other so not sure why that is since we have previously been in predominantly country areas, but we’re enjoying it anyway.


Had to take a pic of the Ranger with the fire warning, reminded us of the Yogi Bear cartoons.


Our very first drive in / ride in restaurant. 

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Gave Norm a chance to replace my headlight globe in the shade.


Coffee spot ... we didn't see any flying pigs but soaked up the airconditioning in the 100F heat.


The Smith County Court House and Veterans Memorial in Raleigh.


Fuel stop and loved the No Solicitors sign … obviously means no Soliciting but it cracked me up.

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Saw many convoys of Electric Transmission line vehicles heading for the coast for post hurricane repair. This is a small one. Also saw semi-trailers full of electric transformers. Felt quite emotional seeing these guys heading to the turmoil. The hurricane stalled over the Bermuda Islands with the eye of the hurricane in place over land for 36 - 40 hours. Incredible! The hurricane is expected to skate up the east coast along the east side of Florida (all areas of the state are declared under a state of emergency)… we will see how things look tomorrow but no apparent danger to usaas we are well to the west of there and on the other side of the Applaachians.

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And the tag on the back of the cab took Norm’s fancy ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.

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Category: Travel to USA

Well we have had a couple of lovely days chilling (if you can do that in Hammond) with Kevin and Matt Grace, family and friends. It was great to catch up with Tamara and some of her rellies also. We enjoyed a ‘shrimp boil’ and we survived the spices though I nearly managed to choke after eating some onion … dumb move, should have realised onions are full of water, in this case very spicy water, sure cleaned the old sinuses out. The weather has been very hot and humid as it is in Darwin. We plan to head off around 7am in the morning to get north before it gets too hot. Likely come into some rain compliments of activity of Hurricane Dorian on the way. Have enjoyed a brief respite from the bikes, much napping and reading.

Man that onion was hot!!!

And that's what we're eating at the Shrimp Boil. The bits at the top are caulifolower which is added to the pot late to soak up the spices ... yeah well nice theory, the onion was $#^&**$@!


And Norm decided to tackle the bikes for a bit of a clean before we take them to get an oil change ... but the humidity was so high the polish wouldn't dry to be polished off. Crazy.

And here are the Graces with us. Tamara, Kevin and Matt, Chris  being at the airforce base where he has started his career.

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Category: Travel to USA

With the long weekend drawing many tourists to the coast we decided instead of heading south east we would head west to avoid any queuing in traffic late in the heat of the day along the coast and struck out through Waynesboro before heading south. It was a lovely ride through country roads with very little traffic until we got onto the more major highways. The communities we travelled through overall appeared more affluent than a lot we had seen yesterday and as always the larger towns appeared to be in better shape than tiny rural communities.

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Cute little coffee spot, Grove Hill. Not much action in town as you can see.

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And this is the tail end of about 15 bikes in a group, one of only two groups we have seen. VERY few bikes to be seen anywhere and all these great roads. Go figure!


Lovely country road ups and downs through the forest.


The sign for Coffeeville (glad we had already had our coffee) the sign was the best thing about the town .. well at least what we could see from the road anyway.


Yet another specie bridge.


And yep I’m coming as well in the mirror.


And a sign at a fuel up stop. You may remember we had seen many signs at the likes of McDonald stores last trip of ‘no loitering past 20mins’. I have a theory about that, they had just started with the McCafé’s at that time here and there were a lot of senior citizen groups in evidence drinking coffee. Well, no signs like that anymore, and no soft seats, all hard plastic and air-conditioning that would freeze your bits off. Problem solved!

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Category: Travel to USA

Humid again and oh my God hot as well. I thought my head was going to explode! We pulled in to fuel up across the road from our hotel and I cooled down sufficiently to get to the hotel. Thought I was a bit of a sook and sometime later when I got my phone out of the pannier it was unbelievably hot so perhaps not.

We managed to take more of the country roads today and the roads themselves were lovely and windy and beautiful surface but the view between forest areas and fields was depressing in the smaller townships we travelled through. We travelled south of Montgomery through Greenville and then onto Evergreen. Like so many other rural areas we have seen both here and at home there is evidence of communities which are coming to grips with the reality that they are no longer sustainable with the corporatisation of agriculture and forestry, dwindling job numbers, alternative opportunities and family sized businesses being a casualty of the system. Reminiscent of the crofters moving off the land in Scotland, obviously different circumstances with landlords there but the result of empty deteriorating communities is the same. Sad.

Amid seemingly nowhere but at the crossroads of several roads way past lunchtime we came across a Buffet which was a bit quirky and doing a roaring trade. Have added a couple of pics.


An example of some of the better real estate south of Montgomery.


A work shot … check out the sleeper cab!


Another work shot of a log truck around the Greenville area. They have a huge overhang.



Our lunch spot. The T Shirts worn by staff have a pic of an old couple on the back, he says "where do ya wann go for dinner" she says "It don't matter".

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And an interesting sign on the door.


A very sad sight in Greenville, one of many.

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Greenville theatre apparently still open … hope so.


We stayed at the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites.

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Category: Travel to USA

Another pretty big day with hot and humid conditions from start to finish. We spent all day on interstates (freeways) today as yesterday and oh my goodness was there ever huge volumes of traffic, big speed and heaps and heaps of trucks even more so than yesterday. Yesterday we travelled on the I95 and today the I85 and the I85 was more frantic. We’re glad we are familiar with trucks and their predictability but feel for anyone who might feel timid around them … in fact in those instances we would recommend not to use the Interstate system at all. It was interesting both days to note that the trucks always indicated to change lanes as we did but it was rare to see anyone else doing so … I don’t know why there are needless collisions! Mind you the law here is if there is a collision it is an offence NOT to move the vehicles off the road. Through traffic is treated as a priority.

Despite the speed and pressure of traffic we enjoyed being surrounded by rolling forested hills for the most part of our trip today interspersed with settlements of all sizes.

My thigh is a little more comfortable so managing okay. We need to bring our remedial masseuse along with us to help with the creaky bits in future it would appear……

Hurricane Dorian is building up off the lower east coast and may make downfall a bit later than previously expected so hoping to get through Atlanta and onto Louisiana then heading further north after that without getting drenched .... time will tell. The state of Georgia has declared a state of emergency so looking forward to getting out of town in the morning.

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Well well well, the work shot you get when you least expect it. Cannot believe the weight this was pulling!


A sorry little fuel stop. I think it was even hotter inside than out, couldn’t wait to get back on the bike!


Staying tonight at the Hilton Garden Inn Macon / Mercer University.

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Category: Travel to USA

Today was a big day’s riding initially on highways until we spoke to a policeman when we were getting lunch and he sent us on Route 64 which was much more picturesque. Similar crops this morning as yesterday with a small amount of tobacco thrown in as well and as we headed further west we were largely surrounded by rolling forest land as well as plantations of some sort of pine / conifer and not surprisingly we came across a paper mill. Route 64 was a lovely curvy road through many little communities and overall the townships appeared in better shape than those where there had been intensive agriculture where there was evidence of large corporate operations leaving many former farmhouses empty and neglected. Sad to see, but like what we see at home and talked about in Angelica a few days ago.

Lots of Crepe Myrtle trees in evidence today in street and home plantings as there were yesterday. Lovely displays in a variety of colours. Trees look nice and sheltered here so they probably survive well.

I managed to pull something in my thigh today *%$#””! , felt a twang as it let go, yuk, so had hoped to get a remedial massage to hopefully make it a bit more comfortable for tomorrow but unfortunately the hours had changed and they were closed, more *%$#””!. Walking very carefully now, even slower than Norm, … looks and feels a bit weird not to mention pretty painful.


A quaint old barn soon after we found a bit of country road to travel on.


And yes, country roads invariably mean gravel.


And a cute little cabin on the way.


A very specie house in Hendersonville.


Streetscape in Hendersonville from a cab back from the massage that didn't happen.


Staying tonight at the Red Roof Inn.

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Category: Travel to USA

The weather started warm and humid and progressed to hot and humid by the end of the day and we progressed from gold coast glitz complete with carnival rides to rolling fields of corn, mostly browned off, peanuts, melons and cotton.

We’re riding on mainly highways since we are on a bit of a mission to get to Louisiana to catch up with our nephew and don’t really have the time to explore many country roads where photo opportunities are more readily available but we got in early enough today to explore surrounding historic areas of Weldon and Halifax which was interesting and to again see how the rural areas are really struggling.

The highlight of the ride was travelling on the Chesapeake Bridge and Tunnel complex which was the purpose of us coming so far east. For Bransgrove family members, the 3 bridges and 2 tunnels (under the shipping channels) is 20 miles long which is the same distance from the farm in Neerim North to Warragul, 20miles! It was a shame the fishing pier and café’s were closed for work, we would have enjoyed the photo opportunities and had planned to have lunch there.


A sample of the historic buildings in Historic Halifax.


A specie house on the outskirts of Halifax.


Roanoke Rapids, yes only about 25m above sea level so things cannot fall too far … I guess.


Staying tonight at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

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Category: Travel to USA


1.     We nearly walked our legs off over the weekend and were a bit weary … felt like we’d been chasing a long-legged young thing around the city all weekend … oh hang on that’s what we were doing.

2.     We wanted to avoid tolls if possible as we are still having some toll transponder issues.

3.     There was heaps of traffic to deal with on the way out of NYC as well as many detours around roadworks so tested the sense of humour and concentration levels.

4.     We also had a ferry crossing on the Cape May – Lewes Ferry 54kms before our destination which ate up time waiting to get on the 1.5-hour trip on the crossing.

5.     Had a couple of shots to navigate to our hotel with a weird traffic treatment here. Bizarre!

Ocean City is a sort of Gold Coast type area chock full of holiday accommodation but for a limited season about to come to a halt next weekend (Labour Day weekend) when ‘the season’ ends and only the die-hards visit then as the weather gets rougher and less summer like.


And that bridge in the distance is the one we were supposed to be on coming out of NYC, the Skyway but we got there anyway in the long run in spite of roadworks / bridgeworks and detours.


Great morning coffee spot and a very American Diner.


More great infrastructure in another bridge, soooo much water in the waterways so if you can’t build bridges people can’t get anywhere. Necessity leads to great engineering obviously.


Outlying area of Atlantic City streetscape



And a very cute house in the suburbs.



Heading towards the first tunnel section of the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel complex. Awe inspiring. No photo can do it justice ... where is a good drone when you need one?


Waiting for the ferry crossing and that is a 1965 Airstream caravan and a 3-wheel Ural motorbike – can engage both rear wheels, made in Russia, originally for WWII but now manufactured in cute colours and selling well apparently.


All aboard the ferry ... serous tie down procedures there are not.


And we are staying tonight at La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham.

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Category: Travel to USA

It was a challenge getting things almost dry overnight before we headed off, but the temperature remained hot and humid, so they sort of dried out over time. We rode through a lot of farming country and skated along the edge of Lake Erie which was rarely far away as well as forest areas and I was delighted to spot heaps of eagles soaring on thermals today which was a treat.

Norms quote for the day when we were having a coffee “Well Missy the clouds are ‘a building and the clocks ‘a ticking, let’s make a mile”.

Jamestown appears a tired little town and I don’t think I have ever seen so many people on the streets on wheelie walkers, motorised and not as well as on crutches. Turns out they have some serious rehab going on for drug and alcohol as well as physical and again the County is doing some serious refurbishing work but boy they have their work cut out for them. I wish them we

Also discovered that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez came from here and there is a Museum for them here as well as a Comedy theatre.


Typical farm image.


From our window, the diamond is covered in plastic protecting it from the rain.


Toledo streetscape.


Work shot.

 Staying tonight at La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham.

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