March 31, 2011

Memphis by day

I had plenty of time...not. But the weather was too good. So, before I hit the road I had a quick walk through downtown Memphis, because I wanted to see the Mississippi River, Beale Street at daylight, and some of the historic quarters. At this time of the day the city was pretty deserted. I was impressed by the cleanliness. There was no garbage, no graffiti and no panhandling either. I wonder how they do that. Some other cities could learn from it.

 Muddy Waters
Walking on Beale Street
Fedex Forum - Home of the Memphis Grizzlies
 The Orpheum Theater
I took so many pictures of historic buildings, and have a hard time sorting them all out. The buildings are in good condition and well maintained, but often deserted. Memphis needs business...

The city is well worth a second visit. If you can, stay over the long weekend. There are lots of things to do.

Walking in Memphis

It was raining hard, when I arrived in Memphis. Outside of the Courtyard Marriot in Downtown I found one lonely Beemer, in fact one of the very few motorcycles I encountered during my road trip.
And then there was that song in my head...

I didn't have blue suede shoes to put on
so I boarded the plane in sneakers
touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
in the middle of the pouring rain
W.C. Handy
won't you look down over me
I got an economy class ticket
since the company paid for me
Then I'm walking in Memphis
Was walking with my feet, ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel
They've got barbecued ribs with beans and fries on the table
 They've got gospel in the air
(and live music at B.B. King's Blues Club)
 When you haven't got a prayer
Girl, you got a prayer in Memphis
Saw the ghost of Elvis
On Union Avenue
Followed him up to the gates of Graceland
Then I watched him walk right through
When I was walking in Memphis
I was walking with my feet, ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel
And that just song got stuck in my head

Excerpts taken from one of my all-time favourite songs: Marc Cohn's 'Walking in Memphis'

More to come: The City and the Legend

Road Trip: MI-TN-AR-MS-OK

I was fortunate to be able to combine business and pleasure. I flew into Memphis, Tennessee to have BBQ on Beale Street and visit Elvis in Graceland.
I drove down to the state of Mississippi, because it is there, and had pulled pork on a bun in Southaven.
It was all back to business in Arkansas, and the Ozarks are simply beautiful.
Moving on to Missouri but yet enough time to stop for a burger and fries lunch in Branson.
Staying the night in Tulsa, Oklahoma before heading back home the next morning. Again the meal included fried contents.
Five states in four days. After four days of diet lacking any healthy ingredients I have developed a serious craving for sushi and fresh veggies.

More tales from the road to come...

March 27, 2011

Chasing Rambo

Welcome to Hope! 
30 years ago, the small logging town of Hope, BC was converted into the movie set of Rambo - First Blood.
Many original locations were used during filming, and remained unchanged over the years. Being a fan of that particular movie (not particularly of Sylvester Stallone), I love to revisit the set.
You may notice the Chevron gas station in the back. This is were I re-fueled Nella today. It is just across the street from the visitor center on the right. Information is available at the visitor center, and I can strongly recommend Herve Attia's blog who conducted an almost forensic investigation of the movie set.

Here's the bridge where the sheriff dropped of Rambo, to get him out of town.
After lunch at the Blue Moose Cafe I headed out to the Coquihalla Canyon where the stunt of Rambo's jump was filmed.
Alas, the tunnels and the canyon were still closed for season. But it was nice to walk around and stretch my legs.

My last destination for today was the Hope Slide. Back in 1965 the Johnson Peak collapsed after an earthquake and caused the largest ever recorded landslide in Canada. With higher elevation it got colder, and soon Nella and I could play in the snow.
It's still winter up here, and the Hope Slide view point was off limits for us. It was time to turn around.
Back in the valley I took another detour and rode some of the slough dykes, which is always fun.

Eventually I did a right turn to check out Cascade Falls but the road was barricaded. But I discovered a nice windy gravel road and followed it for a while until I finally hit the main road again and headed home.
It was a great day for a ride, seven hours of joy, with a versatile program of entertainment, good food and coffee, a hike, some educational content, and over 300km of two-wheeled bliss.

Distance: 344km (214 mi)
Weather: Clouds and sun, 16C (61F)

March 26, 2011

Not your run-of-the-mill tourist town

Lahaina (the natives named this place 'cruel sun' due to the dry climate) is an ex-royal domain, ex-whaler town and ex-capital of Hawaii turned tourist attraction.
Front Street offers everything a tourist heart may desire: t-shirt shops, jewelery and fine art, restaurants and time-share condos. But that doesn't harm the charm and uniqueness of this town.
There is a certain buzz, and it is fun to window-shop, watch people or vehicles being shown off. I genuinely liked that place.
There doesn't seem to be a helmet law on Maui, or nobody seems to care because I have only seen a handful of motorcyclists wearing a safety helmet, let alone gloves, boots or at least long pants for basic protection. But there there is obviously a rule demanding (male) scooterists only to ride dressed in board shorts and flip-flops. T-shirt is optional. The first thing that comes to mind is a serious road rash waiting to happen.