This past weekend was one of the greatest I can remember in a long-time. I’m not sure if it was that great for my son … but it was certainly a great weekend for me.
I’ve been riding motorcycles for quite a while now and each year I plan a long distance ride for some of my riding friends and some of by brothers riding friends. Since about 2008 we’ve been calling this the “Nix Brother’s Annual Motorcycle Adventure.” My brother lives in Lincoln Nebraska and I live in Clinton Mississippi. This is the one time each year that we can count on spending some time together. I’m retired, but he is still working – so I get stuck with all the planning – though he and several others never fail to show up for the ride.
We’ve been (on motorcycle) to such places as …
- The Grand Canyon via Route 66
- The Smoky Mountains and the Tail of the Dragon
- Key West
- Washington DC for “Rolling Thunder”
- Big Bend Texas
- Eureka Springs Arkansas ( a few times)
- Las Vegas and Death Valley as well as Mount Whitney
- South Dakota and Sturgis (a few times)
- Yellow Stone National Park
… just to name a few.
This year we were supposed to go to Tombstone Arizona and spend a week on a working ranch. My brother (Ed Nix) and his buddy, Dan Fonfara, were able to go – but due to my wife’s illness and surgery I was not able to get out there with them. There are more important things than riding motorcycles … though there are few. However, the wellness and caring of a loved one always comes above anything else in my opinion.
When we take these trips we keep them to “Men Only.” Not that we are against women … we are all mostly married and others have female significant others, that we do love and spend time with … but we feel it is a time for men to be men … to talk as they wish, to bathe or not to bathe, to shave or not to shave, to clean up after ourselves or live in dirt … to just be ourselves for a week without the care of possibly offending someone or have a lot of unwarranted drama. Our wives and significant others understand this and in my case … my wife encourages these trips each and every year. I guess she needs a break from me annually as well.
We normally rent a house for a week (Airbnb or VRBO) and if we want to sit around in our underdrawers and watch TV it is not a big deal … we could not do that with women around … especially some other man’s woman. We don’t (though some of do) have to be a gentleman to other gentlemen. We can just be man to man. In all our trips the only arguments that have broken out has been between my brother and I … but we’ve been doing that all our lives. We always hug and make up (LOL).
What I did this past weekend
As I said, I missed this past trip to Tombstone (as did my son, David Nix) who had other commitments (like his step daughters graduation from Medical School). So here’s what we did …
I have some property in Ocala Florida that my dad left me when he passed in 1999. I had gone to see this property in a subdivision known as Silver Springs Shores in 2004 – but there were no houses in the subdivision at the time (only a couple of mobile homes) so I didn’t think much more about it; other than each year when it came time to pay the property taxes. Lately, however, I’ve been getting calls and texts from people interested in buying the property … so I thought it was time to go take another look at it.
I called my son and asked if he’d like to take a long weekend from work and ride to Ocala with me on the Bikes. He thought about it for about 30 seconds (I guess he was checking his electronic calendar since he’s all about electronics) and said, “I’m In.”
“Great,” I said. You plan this trip and let me know when and where to meet you. “Momma’s feeling better and is back on the golf course so I can get away for a few days.”
I figured David has not yet planned a trip and I’m not going to live forever, so it was time for him to get into the planning stages in case I am not here someday. And let me tell you … he did a great job of planning for this first trip.
The beginning point …
Since he lives in the town of Central Louisiana and I live in the town of Clinton Mississippi neither of us wanted to go out of our way to get to the other to ride together. We needed a meeting up place. It was decided that we would meet up on the trip over in Gulfport, Mississippi. This shows the map of that meeting point for each of us.
I had smooth sailing, with no rain for all of my trip to Gulfport. Unfortunately, David woke up that morning to severe thunderstorms in his area and rode in the rain most of the way to Gulfport. When you ride motorcycles … you are eventually gonna get wet!
The first real leg of the trip together …
We had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel Country Store and headed for Tallahassee. My youngest Daughter, Samantha Nix, lives there with her husband and two boys. Both Samantha and her husband Chris are on the faculty at Florida State University and they were happy to house us for a night on the first leg of the trip.
I want to thank Samantha and Chris also for not only housing us for a night but also buying dinner that night and breakfast for us the next morning.
David was traveling on his 2018 Kawasaki Versys 1000 while I was riding my 2021 Can Am Spyder RT as shown below:
The total miles I rode on that first day was about 497 as shown on the Google Timeline below and David’s total miles was about 451. We hit two pretty severe rainstorms on that ride … one was from about Ponce De Leon all the way into Tallahassee. We were soaking wet and could not even hug the grandkids when we got there.
We went to Dinner that first night with Samantha and her family … then we went home and hit the sack for another day of riding the next day.
After having breakfast with my daughter and two grandsons David and I hit the road to Ocala – our final destination of this trip. We did not take the interstate, but rather Hwy 27.
Leg 2 of the trip …
Including the ride to breakfast and a short ride to a motorcycle shop (Red Hills Motorsports) in Tallahassee we rode about 188 miles on day two as shown in the Google Timeline below.
Now allow me to explain the ride to “Red Hills Motorsports” in Tallahassee and the ride to “RideNow Motorsports” in Ocala.
David’s rear tire had a constant slow leak … so small on the side of the tire meaning it can’t be patched or plugged. He needed a new tire for fear that this one could “Blow Out” which is not what you want while traveling in excess of 70 MPH on a motorcycle. Most motorcycle shops will put travelers with severe issues ahead of their normal maintenance in the shop; but this was not the case with Red Hills. They said the earliest they could get him in would be “Next Week.”
Me and David spent a little time at Red Hills Motorsports talking to a very nice sales person (it’s funny how sales people are so much nicer than most service people at these places – it probably has something to do with commission pay vs. hourly pay, though I can’t be sure). We took our time taking some photo’s of future dream vehicles shown below.
When we learned that they were not going to provide any service to David, we left the shop and headed on the 188 mile trip to Ocala on a prayer with that bad back tire.
We stopped for gas a little more than half way down at the Shell Gas Station. David’s tire looked very low. He checked it and there was only 9 pounds of pressure in it. He filled it to 40 pounds and off we went.
A little down the road he came onto the intercom (yes, we have helmets that allow us to talk to each other) and said, “Dad I’ll be off the intercom for a while I have to make a phone call.” Can you imagine, making a phone call on a motorcycle. Wow!
A few minutes later he came back on line and said, “Okay Dad, I’ve rerouted us to RideNow Motorsports in Ocala. They are going to replace my back tire as soon as we get there. I told them it would be about 40 minutes or so because we were 35 miles away … they said bring it on in and they’d take care of it.”
Apparently David really knows how to use that phone and helmet. He went to Google Assistant and asked for motorcycle shops in Ocala … he then told Google Assistant to dial up RideNow Motorsports. He talked to a young lady that told him he could bring it on in … and he did all this while we were riding and it was raining on us! Oh these millennials.
We were at this shop for about two hours getting not only the back tire replaced but also the front tire. The store, which sold about 5 or 6 brands of motorcycles, Jet Skies and Boats, made four motorcycle sells in that two hour period of time. I was amazed. I know they were selling them because each time a motorcycle is sold in most stores either a Bell is rung or a horn is blown. In this store it was both bell and horn at the same time … and that noise maker went off four times in that 2 hour time period. There was no special sale going on during this day. Just a bunch of special sales people doing their jobs. Yes, even though I rode in on a brand new 2021 Can Am Spyder … they attempted to get me to upgrade to the 2022 Can Am Spyder. They did it though in a very nice way with no pressure.
Now why RideNow Powersports could get us in and Red Hills could not … I can’t explain. However, it may have something to do with size and number of employees. Below I’ve provided photo’s of the two powersports shops. The first is Red Hills and the second is RideNow.
In doing my research, I also came by this little tidbit of information …
So, as you can see … they are not a small operation and it’s my guess they did not get this big by providing poor customer service.
Our home for two days …
Once the bike tires were replaced and a couple hundred dollars was collected from my son we made our way to the little rental home he’d acquired for us on Airbnb.
This was a clean little house (2 Bedroom, 2 full Bath) until we got there of course. Here’s a few snapshots.
We used Uber Eats for our dinner at this place rather than doing grocery shopping. Normally with a larger group on longer rides we all pitch in and by groceries for the time we will be there. It never fails that we have a good cook and a person who is good at cleaning up the kitchen when it’s all done – and I fit neither of those descriptions. David, on the other hand, is a good cook … but we chose not to cook for ourselves on this trip. We chose to eat from the Panda Express menu that first night. It was not really that good … but it was food.
Then we watched the Movie “OLD” on Netflix, Hulu or some movie channel. We were able to do this because my son always travels with enough electronics to make sure we are never subjected to regular Commercial TV Channels in any of our travels. He was born in 1977 so by year that makes him a Gen Xer … but he refuses to accept that and says that he is a Millennial.
After the Movie, it was off to bed for an early rise of discovery the next day.
The City of Ocala …
For those that have never been there … this is Ocala Florida:
Ocala is a city in central Florida. The waters of Silver Springs State Park are dotted with kayaks and glass-bottom boats. The park is also the gateway to the woods and lakes of the vast Ocala National Forest to the east.
The population in Ocala in 2020 was a little more that 60,000 and the area is well known for its horse ranching. We only had one full day there so we did not get to do all we wanted to … like kayaking or riding the glass bottom boats in Silver Springs State Park. We were not there for a vacation … we went to put eyes on some land.
Below is a Google Timeline Map of the territory we covered on this day. Review the map and I will explain it as much as I can.
1. We started at the Airbnb and rode to 2. Keke’s Breakfast Café. I don’t need breakfast, but David does. However I will eat breakfast when the opportunity presents itself, and I did have a pecan waffle … but I have to tell you it was not as good as the one you can get at Waffle House.
3. From there we headed back to RideNow Power Sports. David really needed to get a Kickstand Pad for his bike. We were on a gravel drive at the Airbnb and the kickstand alone, digging into the gravel, could not be trusted to hold the bike up. They did not have any in stock … but the salesman from the Indian Shop next door (a part of this operation) provided David with a souvenir Indian Kickstand Pad. He also told him where he may be able to get some highway pegs for his style of motorcycle. Later David did find these on-line as instructed.
4. From there we went to Silver Springs Shores, the sub-division where my land is, to check it out. The idea was to determine if I’d build a home there or sell the property. Below is some pictures of the property and the surrounding area (and homes).
5. Once done reviewing the property and neighborhood, we headed clear across town in search of the Movie Star, John Travolta’s home. View the video below and you will be able to see better pictures than we could take … though I will show you the pictures we were able to grab on our cell phones.
First take a look at this:
The star inside the circle represents the home of John Travolta. If you know anything about him then you know that he is a pilot and has his own very large commercial airplane (a Boeing 707) – just one of many. the arrow pointing to the X is the closest point we could get to and have a clear line of site to his home.
Here’s some of the photo’s we were able to get from such a distance:
Keep in mind we were at quite a distance away due to security and had nothing but cell phones to work with.
However, I was able to find a better picture on-line for you to view.
If you click on the above picture you will be (or should be) taken to a virtual tour on YouTube.com … but in case that does not work … here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlReKPXAQKA
Perhaps if we’d planned this trip through a travel agent we could have gotten closer to the property (it is in a gated community with locked gates) but we never use a travel agent to plan our trips. We tend to do many things – once at our destination – at the spur-of-the-moment.
6. Finally, we headed back to the Airbnb to clean it up and get ready for our trip home the next day.
When we got to the Airbnb we ordered again from Uber Eats –
and again was somewhat disappointed in the meal. I think we’ve determined on next trip we will cook ourselves.
As we were waiting for our food to arrive, David decided to do his laundry before taking dirty clothes home. He said he did not like the idea of “stinky clothes being in a stinky bag” when he get’s home. I thought to myself, “Oh, clean clothes in a stinky bag makes a whole lot more sense.” But I did not say anything to him … he was trained by his momma!
No, I did not wash my clothes. I took them home dirty and stinky.
In any event, David found this on the washer – and it’s the first time he or I ever saw anything like it …
Based on the movie we’d watched the night before (OLD) we felt that was a perfect way to end this trip.
“OLD” is a thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly reducing their entire lives into a single day.
We closed this night out by watching another movie … The Grey Man. This one happened to be a CIA Thriller staring Ryan Gosling and is worth the watch … IF … you like action and bloody stories. Once the movie was over we packed up our closed and hit the sack only to arise at 6:00 AM the following day (that would be 5:00 AM our time) for the long journey home.
The Long Ride Home …
Our plan was to leave at 7:00 AM Eastern Time and arrive home between 6:00 and 6:30 PM Central Time. And we could have done that … if only!
Our goal was to leave and ride all the way to Felix’s Fish Camp Restaurant in Mobile Alabama, to have lunch before parting ways to head to our individual homes; which we did. However, we did not plan to arrive at one of the busiest restaurants in Mobile Alabama soaking wet.
I have now decided that I am going to call I-10 between Mobile, AL and Tallahassee, FL “Rain Drop Alley.” When we were going we got hit with two rainstorms on this highway and when we were coming back it was a total of six rainstorms that we had to ride through. We would get wet, then dry, then wet again over and over. As I said though … when you roll on two or three wheels … your gonna get wet from time to time. But come on … six times in one day and a couple hundred miles. I do recall one trip my brother and I went on though that took us through about 500 miles of hard rain (Rolling Thunder, Washington, DC).
David and I rode and rode and finally – after setting for about 30 minutes in the pouring rain and bumper to bumper traffic for an accident we made it to this restaurant. Naturally, the rain stopped about the time we got there.
We were told we could wait 25-30 minutes to be seated (at 1:30 PM) or we could go to the bar and be served on a first come first serve basis (if there was any room). We went to the bar and there was one table opened. We walked to it with our feet squishing water on every step and set down. People were watching as if we were from some other planet. We were wet … but we were hungry … so really didn’t care at the time what others thought.
The food was great and the service was average … but we were able to dry off a little for the one and a half hours that we were there before splitting up and going in different directions.
Below are our maps from the restaurant to our homes. Notice the mileage on each of them. Exactly 201 miles for each of us to travel alone on this leg of the trip.
David and I spoke on the phone a couple of times as we were headed to our homes … just to make sure we were both doing okay and not in any more rain. The intercom in our helmets only work if we are within a quarter to a half mile of each other … and we weren’t on this leg of our trip.
I received a text from David as I was getting close to my home … notice the time.
I sent him a note back about 6:35 indicating I’d gotten in about 5 minutes earlier and it was just starting to rain again when I was pulling into the garage.
Hopefully you can see that here: https://photos.google.com/u/2/photo/AF1QipNQUOm5cT6qpcNLtimXE1ks6MIQScWVejqb4wXu
So why did I decide to write about this trip …
since I’ve not written about some of the other trips?
This trip was different because it was only me and my son alone on motorcycles. David is not my only child. I have four, pictured below as adults:
All of these kids are unique in their own ways and I owe them all a lot. I would really like to see them all on Bikes and joining David and I on some of our trips … but I know that is not going to happen. I have not provided a whole lot to these kids during their lives, other than a good last name and a very strong work-ethic.
Upper left is Linda – our first born. She works full time as a para-legal for an on-line radio station and part time as a manager at Walmart. Much of her para-legal work is done from home.
Upper right is David – our second born. David is a manager for a cable company and puts in many more hours than most since most all of his work is done from home, with his team of engineers, also working from their homes.
Lower left is Jeff – our third born. Jeff is a manager for an auto parts store and puts in about 60 to 70 hours per week on a normal week. He is in the process of learning to be a leader and I am hoping that it serves him well. He is anticipating a role as a district manager in the not too distant future.
Then there is the baby, the lower right – Samantha. Samantha has her PhD in Education and is on staff at a university. She is the one David and I visited while we were going through Tallahassee.
As their father, the one thing that shames me is that I did not spend as much time with them, when they were young kids, as I should have. I was busy putting in 70-80 hours per week in my own career and left much of the child rearing to their mother – who incidentally probably did better without me being there than she would have done if I was there.
When it came to school activities and after-school activities, I was rarely there. Being in Financial Services, I had to meet with clients when they could see me and that infringed a lot on my own family time. Now I am trying to make up for that.
One of the ways I am making up for missing many of David’s baseball, basketball and football games is through these annual motorcycle rides. I can’t teach him very much as an adult … but he sure is teaching me a lot as my child.
I think it is good for a father and child to spend some “alone time together” regardless of age. I am in my 70’s and realize I have far fewer days ahead of me than I have behind me. However, my dilemma is how can I treat the other kids equally since they can’t or won’t take these motorcycle trips. They have other interests that are not aligned with mine … and they all live quite a distance from me (like David does). In addition, with their strong work-ethics most of them are at work 6 days per week and it would be quite hard for us to meet up the one day per week (Sunday) that they are not at work.
But knowing that I have fewer years in front of me than they do … I must figure out a way to make it work. A way that I can spend some alone time with them the way David and I were able to do this past weekend.
Like I said at the beginning … I’ve been on a lot or rides that were really exciting … but this is the most memorable to me because it was just … My Boy and Me!