Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year - New Season

Another year has gone by, it felt like it went in a blink of an eye.  I can't complain, I have reached the end of 2015 in good health, everyone in my family is healthy and that's all that really matters.
As a motorcycle rider I would like to hit the road in a different direction every day but we all have loved ones and we need to spend time with them too.  It's always difficult to balance motorcycle riding with family time specially if your spouse doesn't ride and you have kids in school.  To complicate the situation even more, we all have limited vacation time from work.

I didn't "adventure" much in 2015, it was one of the worse years when it comes to adventure riding. Don't get me wrong, I rode at every opportunity I had but mostly short Sunday rides, none of the big multi day adventures I love so much.  I still have 3 states to ride in my bucket list, Arizona, Michigan and Hawaii.

My 2015 vacation time was used for quality time with family and friends from far away.  It was a year to bring back childhood memories, eat good food, drink amazing wines, visit beautiful places and laugh like never before, indeed, 2015 was one of the best years.

I took a one week vacation and drove with my wife and friends from Florida on what I called the Northeast loop.  We visited places like Lake George in NY and the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288 ft.

On the afternoon of April 12, 1934, the Mount Washington Observatory recorded a wind speed of 231 miles per hour (372 km/h) at the summit, the world record for most of the 20th century.
It was very windy during our visit, probably the highest wind I have experienced to this day.

Spent a few days in Mt. Desert Island visiting Bar Harbor and driving to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine.  Of course we had the famous Maine Lobster, they were delicious.

I built this cairn for good luck, I hope it's still there

On the return we visited Cape Cod and the beautiful beaches of Provincetown, Massachusetts including a boat trip to see whales.

Whale watching off Provincetown, Cape Cod Bay

Finally, on the return trip we visited Montauk Point State Park and the famous Montauk Point Light at the easternmost point of Long Island, New York.  It was an amazing trip with lots of laughs, lobster dinners and beautiful scenery.

A nine day vacation with my wife, daughter and one of her friends to Madeira Beach, Florida.  The Clearwater to St. Pete Beach coast is one of my favorite summer places to visit.  The west coast of Florida and the beaches are beautiful and the Gulf water is warm enough that you can spend the whole day in the water.

We visited Honeymoon and Caladesi islands and had dinner in Tarpon Springs, where we saw one of the most amazing sunsets ever.

Did a photoshoot with the ladies in Madeira Beach, my daughter and her friend have been best buddies since young age.  

We visited my brother in Pompano Beach on the east coast where he took us on a boat trip through the Fort Lauderdale area and the Tarpon River.  We walked the Riverwalk area and had lunch at the Briny Riverfront Irish Pub.  Florida is most likely the place I will retire to.

Amazing homes along the river

Amazing yachts  

Fort Lauderdale Beach

A two week vacation in California and Nevada with friends visiting from South Africa.  I named the trip the western loop because we covered quite a bit of the western coast as you can see on the map.  We flew into Los Angeles, visited Hollywood where I proceeded to give the one finger salute, the Getty Museum and had dinner in Universal City Center.

A trip to Edwards Air Force Base

Highlights of the trip were Venice and Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles, Palos Verdes and Long Beach area to the south.

Manhattan Beach and Palos Verdes below

Mulholland Hwy and "The Rock Store", a restaurant in Cornell, Malibu Canyon and famous motorcycle hangout, it's closed on Mondays.  Lunch in Malibu where we ran into John McEnroe, famous tennis player while having pizza at a very expensive restaurant.

Malibu Beach 

On the way north we stopped for lunch at the Four Seasons Resort-The Biltmore in Santa Barbara.  Very expensive place but worth a visit.

Continued north through Big Sur on Highway 1 along the rugged Pacific coast. Visited San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit tower, Lombard Street and the famous Fisherman's Wharf.

We then went north to Napa Valley, visited a few wineries and had lunch at Francis Ford Coppola winery.

Visited Yosemite National Park and then had wine with cheese and crackers by the Merced River at sunset, magical moment to relive the past.

Continued south through Fresno, Bakersfield and the bottom of Sequoia National Forest.  Went east through Ridgecrest visiting the Trona Pinnacles on the way to Death Valley and Badwater Basin.

Death Valley and Badwater Basin - lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 ft (86 m) below sea level

Spent three nights in Las Vegas having good food and seeing two amazing shows, KÀ by Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Casino and "Le Rêve – The Dream" at the Wynn Casino for the second time.  I had seen the show five years ago on my 25th wedding anniversary and still think in my opinion it's the best show in Las Vegas.

"Le Rêve – The Dream"

Had dinner at Canaletto on the St. Mark’s Square, Venetian Casino

Visited Valley of Fire State Park and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area north and east of Las Vegas.  The water level in Lake Mead has dropped over 144 feet from a few years ago.

We returned to Los Angeles through the Mojave Desert and San Bernardino National Forest and then said goodbye to our school friends from South Africa.   I promise we will soon get together again.

As I said goodbye to 2015, a new year started and with it new possibilities, new adventures, new places to visit and new friends to meet.  I hope I'm able to ride a little more in 2016, maybe even throw in a long distance trip.  I will keep you posted.

To all my friends and followers, keep on riding, stay safe, make memories and take lots of photos and above all, blog and share it.

I wish everyone a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year.