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Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Long Weekend in my Home-Away-From-Home, Daytona Beach

True to form, my plans for Daytona were made on the spur of the moment. I was feeling sorry for myself one afternoon because I hadn't made it to Florida during most of 2011, so I surfed travel sites on the 'net a bit and stumbled across a low-cost plane ticket on the net. On the heels of that, I found an equally great deal on a beachside condo. A sign from above, and not one to be ignored!

I was going alone so I figured I'd also have time to check out some business-related stuff too. And then, outa nowhere, I had unexpected company for the trip so I dialed back the business plans. And then, just as suddenly, things changed and I didn't. And people wonder why I hate to make plans.....

But why let a spare condo bedroom stay empty, right? A quick call to my daughter, Marianne, ended up in a last-minute father/daughter event that was made even more fun with Mar's friend, Marina! These gals are veteran party-animals, biker-oriented, with skills honed at Cancun Cantina and Reckless Rics, a couple infamous biker-friendly spots in Maryland. Check 'em out! No, not the girls...the bars!

Marina and Marianne

So the girls drove and I flew, for once taking the easy way south. I thought about hauling a bike down, but with the short stay, it just didn't seem worth it. I figured if the itch got too bad, I'd rent a bike for a day. I also still have vivid memories of the 2 weeks I spent last year getting all the salt and sand off the bikes after coming back north hauling 'em on that open Kendon trailer. 

If none of that makes sense to you, you probably live in a warm place. Up north, they spread liberal quantities of salt and sand on the roads to melt ice and snow, give cars a little traction, and make roads passable. Add rain to that mix, and it sticks like glue in places a q-tip can't get to, and it sure makes a mess on vehicles.

But I digress (whatever that means)....

We all had plans to meet and check into the hotel, but the girls ran late (no kidding, right?) so I took advantage of the extra time to grab something to eat. Turns out Catrina was still waiting tables at Hooters and remembered me from last year!!! I'd like to think it was my charming personality and devastating good looks, but it might just have been the tips I left. I decided not to think too much about that......

After eating and catching up on the past year's events, etc, with Catrina, I rolled out to the hotel. The condo I rented was at Daytona Regency, and what a great place. A HUGE 2 bedroom apartment larger than the place I live in. And the staff were great too. Very biker-friendly and eager to help. Be advised that you will most definitely NOT get a tall truck in the garage, and a trailer is out of the question. The tight turns into the garage would be impossible, in addition to the low ceiling. But with a car, little SUV, or a bike, you'd be set. I doubt if my H3 would have made it in.

Time passes.....

We all meet and get ready for the first night out. There's no real choice about "where" for me. I've been wanting to go back to Boot Hill Saloon ever since I walked out the last time. Boot Hill is one of the very few places I've found where I can walk in and within minutes I'm in a conversation with someone who's damn near just like me. Now that might even be scary, but it does't happen much around Washington, DC. In fact, and now that I think about it, Boot Hill reminds me of Daniel's Restaurant in Elkridge, Maryland, 'cept Boot Hill's in a hell of lot warmer place.

Boot Hill had a kick-ass band called Big Engine, and while I really don't zero in on bands, this one was just terrific. Played some real rock n roll that we all grew up on...Skynyrd, Def Leopard, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and up through the 80's, 90's and now. Great covers of great songs. Even the old folks were bouncing around at the booths, rocking out to Honky Tonk Woman!

Next day, I was off to Destination Daytona to check on bike rentals, and was disappointed to find out the HOG rental program wasn't available there. Eaglerider was though, but the prices seemed steep. About $150 per day for a bike, plus another $24 for a damage waiver. That's a Joker payment for me, so I took a pass. I found out the regular HOG rental location was available at Seminole HD, which wasn't exactly convenient, so I just browsed around and looked at all the goodies. Destination Daytona must have one of everything Harley makes, and a few things (see the pic below) that Harley doesn't make.


So as I'm rolling out, I look in the distance and my surprise....J&P Cycles, that HUGE aftermarket bike parts supplier. I rolled over there and checked out the goods. Loads of quality hardware at decent prices, and the sales staff was more than willing to answer questions, take stuff apart, recommend stuff, etc. I told them I'd just ordered a Saddlemen's BR1800 Sissy Bar Bag, so they dug one up, gave me the inside scoop on mounting, etc, and told me to call them if I had questions. AND I DIDN'T BUY IT FROM THEM! That's above and beyond helpful.

I then put the fun on temporary hold and went into business mode. After retirement, not too long from now, I've got plans on starting a little motorcycle business, and what better place to locate it than Daytona. There are shops and builders everywhere, any or all of whom could maybe use a convenient, local machine shop that can build those special one-off components. I'm also an engineer, so I can help with design too, so maybe that business is a way to make a little spending money. I don't want to work hard or often, so the plan is to keep things low-key, leaving plenty time for riding and travel.

I started looking for real estate....Locations for a home and shop. I had pulled a bunch of places off the net before heading down, and my afternoon was spent checking them out. Suffice it to say there's a TON of stuff available, and I found several places that would do just fine. I even found one that looked like it could also be party-central for all my friends up north who might pass through, and that house is still on the books, though it's a little far from the beach to suit me. I'll have to think about it.

One thing's for sure, though. In a couple years, I'll be there...not in Virginia. You can bet on that.

With business out of the way, it was back to the fun! I treated myself to an "insider, all-access" tour of Daytona Speedway, which was worth every penny. I was inside, on top, under, etc. You name it. Lots of fun!!!

I worked up an appetite on that tour, which was a perfect excuse to go back and visit Catrina at Hooters, and I also wanted to get her opinion on some of the neighborhoods that I'd looked at for houses. I ate too much, talked too much, and learned practically nothing about real estate locations. In fact, I think I forgot to ask about it at all, but I guess I got distracted. You know how that goes, right?

And then there was that moment of truth! I'd been staying within steps of the beach and hadn't set foot on it the entire trip. Off I went, but without a bathing suit, figuring cowboy boots would be OK just this once, but hoping no one saw me! I got away with it!

I reckon that about wraps it up. Lots of fun, and a chance to hang out with the girls. I'm very sure the folks in Wing House will never, ever forget the three people at the outdoor bar who watched the Ravens/Patriots game. And then there was that crazy blonde, Sandra, trying to sell me time shares throughout the game. Only in Daytona. LOL 

I'll be back.