April 08, 2009 GMT
South to Charlotte, NC

Just trying to see if I can get the automatic advisory to work

Sunday 5th April 2009 – Down to North Carolina (By Paul)

Still there are vibrations that fill the air which cause me to be awoken by 6am on a lovely Sunday morning. No hope of a sleep in here. So while ‘sleeping beauty’ continues to belt out a symphony of ZZzzzzzz’s , I proof read his entry into our blog, fix up his spelling mistakes etc.

Today, begins a new phase. The start of our mobilisation. We catch a cab over to the Ronald Reagan International Airport to pick up Steve’s car. We already have a great discount thanks to Bill from Blue Strada Tours (where I’m getting my bike from), but I decide to press the envelope for Steve’s Birthday and suggest that they should upgrade us to a Mustang as I know this is what the old fella really wants. Well blow me down, if the guy doesn’t say we normally have four of them and rings upstairs to have them get one ready for us. Little Stevie’s heart flutters.... he is going to get want he has been hoping for. Alas, there isn’t one available so we have to be content with an almost brand new red Chevrolet Impala with 4000km on it. Indeed it’s a very nice car. Leather upholstery, seat warmers for the soft one and all the bells and whistles AND it goes!!!

This sadly is to be end of Steve’s joy for a few hours. It is the old fella’s first experience of driving on the wrong side of the road. The TomTom Satellite navigation didn’t help his cause either. We wanted to get to Arlington National War Cemetery in DC, yet it was taking us back through Washington away from where we knew it to be. After discussing this for a while, Steve takes control of the TomTom and discovers that we were heading for Arlington in New York. What a dumb arsed thing it is. Unlike in Australia where if you’re in Sydney and you type in Brisbane as your destination, it automatically plots your route. Over here you have to know what state you’re heading for and then choose your cities in that state. Grrrr.

Anyway eventually we made it to the correct Arlington and it was chock a block of people. I couldn’t believe how many coaches were parked there, let alone the cars. While we were there we found President John F. Kennedy’s grave with Jackie parked beside him. DC068 Arlington.JPG We visited Robert E. Lee’s mansion on top of the hill and also the saw the changing of the guard ceremony which was impressive (not as good as the Australian Army would do though) ;-)

From here we headed south again. On a couple of occasions we turned too soon and found ourselves going the wrong way and Steve was starting to loose the plot. I could only laugh and that didn’t help too much. We had hoped to head up through the Blue Ridge National Park and take the scenic road instead of the freeway, but they wanted us to fork out $15, so we stuck to the boring freeway.

Tonight we are in a little town called Roanoke.

From Charlotte
Tomorrow we head into Charlotte at last to collect the bike.

Tuesday 7th April 2009 – Charlotte (by Paul)

Yesterday after leaving Roanoke, we continued our journey into the deep south of the Confederates. At one stage we were looking for a road called The Blue Ridge Parkway. This had been recommended to me by a few people as being a must to travel. We missed the turnoff because we busy admiring the stone bridge and taking a photo of it, instead of turning onto it.

From Charlotte
Anyway about 10 miles later, I suggested to Steve that maybe we should just check if we saw anyone. We come upon this elderly fellow out the front of his house on his ride on mower. We pull up to ask directions (see girls.... men do ask for directions.... just not when you’re about). This fella says to us “Yo all get on out of that there vehicle and rest a spell” in his deep southern drawl. He immediately holds out his big hand and introduces himself. We stand and talk to him in the freezing cold for about 15 minutes. An absolute delight to talk to him. When we finish, he says in his best voice “Yo all come back now ya hear”. At one stage we mentioned something about New York and the people and his comment was “them darned Yankies” We laughed about it as we headed up the road.

We finally found the Blue Ridge Parkway and the poor old TomTom was having dizzy fits, trying to work out where we were going, it was just sitting there spinning around trying to work out where we were. This road is way out in the “boonies” There wasn’t a stop sign or intersection for more than 150 miles and the country side was spectacular.

From Charlotte
We came across the occasional, dare I say it, Southern Redneck (I say that in a nice way) in his pickup truck but other than that, nobody. It would have been great on the bike.

Bill Kniegge from Blue Strada Tours joins us in the Blake Hotel in Charlotte for drinks. This is a really nice hotel and if booked through Expedia.com, you can get really great rates. After drinks the three of us head around to Mama Risotta’s for dinner. A really good meal and I couldn’t eat it all. Great service too. The only down side.... I woke up during the night on a couple of occasions with the thought that a camel had walked past me and dumped a heap of sand in my mouth.... this may have been caused by a little too much red wine. Funny, Steve doesn’t seem to be keen to drink these past few days after trying to dance with his bar stool in DC.

Today, is the day where I finally get to pick up my bike. A silver Honda ST Tourer (that matches my helmet) mmmm sweet. ;-).

From Charlotte
Bill not only provides extra bags for the bike, but gives me one of his really warm jackets, because I discover after just 15 minutes of riding that my jacket is not going to cope with these extreme conditions that they are having over here. He also provides me with a set of ‘over mits’ to put over my gloves and a chest warmer. On top of that, he has organised a hire car for me in LA for when I return the bike because it will be cheaper than a taxi to the airport.

I am not being paid to say these things, but I can tell you now that if you want to come to the USA and ride, you couldn’t do better than come to this bloke for your bike. He does way more than you would ever expect anyone to do. Bill, you really are a great bloke. Thanks for everything.

Another thing that he did for us was to organise a trip to the workshop of Marcus Ambrose.

From Charlotte
For those of you not into motor sport in Oz, Marcus was a dual V8 Supercar champion. Steve in his nice warm car, complete with heated seats and me on the bike drove the 100km (60 miles) across town to where he is based here in Charlotte. Man this is one impressive workshop. I’ll include a few photos. We were given a thorough tour by his PR manager. She showed us through all of the workshop, the cars, all of the Semi Trailer mobile workshops, the whole lot.
From Charlotte
What a great experience.

Of my first day on the bike.

From Charlotte
It was a bitterly cold day with strong winds, but it was good to be finally doing what I came here to do. Unfortunately, all these winds and cold weather and I find myself trying to fight off a flu or something.

Our schedule for those of you who were keeping up with it, shows that we are scheduled to head west towards Nashville in Tennessee tomorrow (Wednesday), but it had 6 inches of snow last night and today. At last check, bikes don’t do too well in these conditions. Therefore, we are going to head further south into warmer temperatures to Charleston. Everyone is telling us that this is a very beautiful place filled with history including a former slave market place. So we will head there and then the following day, skip Nashville altogether and head west from a more southern approach. Our route will take us through Athens and Rome in Georgia and then eventually into Memphis.

Ok, that’s it for now. Don’t forget to write and let us know if you’re enjoying these and if there is anything that you would like us to include that we aren’t. Remember if you don’t have our personal email address you can write to us at aussiesacrossusa2009@gmail.com

hoo roo for now

From Charleston

Posted by Paul Brealey at April 08, 2009 10:45 AM GMT

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