Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dear Lance

This is a letter Willie wrote before she started this Blog.  One of our first long trips on the new Terra Trikes.  Posted by Walldog.

Dear Lance,

Wednesday, July 9, 2003, I rode my Wizwheelz TerraTrike 30.5 miles on the Tammany Trace.  Did I do good?
Tammany Trace is a rail, or paved former train tram, which stretches from Covington LA to Slidell LA, and we learned about it from our friend Perry who has a guesthouse in Mandeville, one of the Trailheads.

Taking advantage of his hospitality, we transported our Trikes on Tuesday, checked out the riding area in Mandeville, and embarked on our journey about 8 AM Wednesday.  We had Camelbacks full of cool water, sunscreen, inspect repellant, and extra water bottles.  The temperature was around 75 degrees.

Five minutes after we began, we came face to face with US 190, (which, Lee Ann, is akin on a trike to US 290 in a motor vehicle driven by a country driver.)  Herb made it across by pedaling; however, I chose to lift the rear wheel and walk mine across.  In five more minutes we were at the Trailhead in Mandeville and wheeled onto the path north to Abita Springs.  A wonderful part of this path is a tunnel that takes you under US 190, and is quite a thrill speeding down and climbing up the other side.

The path was tree-lined, so that it was cool for much of the trip.  Sips from the Camelbacks were very refreshing along the way. A halfway rest area was a park maintained by St. Tammany Parish (counties to non-Louisianaians), which included a Caboose, covered pavilions, restrooms and water fountain.  Souvenirs are available when the Caboose is open.

 An interesting part of the trip was approaching intersections with motor vehicle roads.  Some were “All Way Stop” and some were Stops for us.  We learned to safely negotiate these.  As you may recall country roads traveling parallel to a railroad track, but needing to cross it, will make serious S-curves on both sides of the track.  No way can you see oncoming traffic, so a complete stop is necessary.  I learned how to be in the correct gear for pedaling from a stop.  Some drivers were courteous enough to stop for us and hold up traffic while we crossed.

Abita Springs is known for its bottled water appropriately named “Abita Springs Water” and its beer appropriately named “Abita Beer,” which they brew in three flavors.  We were interested to tour the brewery, but did not readily find it, so decided to ride on to Covington (only two more miles), as it was around 10 in the morning, and too early for lunch.  Or beer.

This leg of the journey was pleasant – no hills or curves to speak of on any part of the Trace – and we arrived in Covington anticipating the touristy downtown area collection of shops, hoping to find some iced tea and rest a while.  The temperature was climbing.

We discovered that the Trace ended before we found the downtown area, so we began our search for the iced tea.  Again, we encountered US 190 and Herb pedaled across.  Again, I walked my Trike across – only to find that the bike path that we picked up into downtown crossed a bridge over the river, as did US 190, and for some strange reason had a section about 10 feet long with a guard rail on the outer edge that encroached on the width of the bike path, so that we only had room enough for our wheels to sit.  No passing, for sure! 

It was a little scary traversing this bridge, as the 12 inch drop-off would be into the right-hand lane of US 190.  But we prayed for safety and  went slow.  No problem.

                        (If any of our children are reading this, please don’t let our
                        grandchildren read it, as we don’t want to set a bad example.)

We found the downtown area and a neat coffee house for the iced tea.  Also a bonus was a mural of Huey P. Long on one of the buildings, with his motto,   “Every Man a King.” 

As we meandered around the downtown, we came upon another part of the bike path, but had to ride over an almost downed chain link fence gate.  That should have been our clue.  We soon discovered that this path crossed that river – but with no guardrails! 
So – the debate:  continue on a wide path over a river with no guard rails, or go back and cross it along side of US 190.  What to do, what to do?  Since it appeared to be a shortcut, we continued across slowly only to discover that the chain link fence gate on the other side was secure.  Oooooh!  The gate was all the way across the path  -- no way to walk around, as the ground dropped off too steep.

So – we turned around and pedaled back, made our way back to the highway and again to the beginning of the Tammany Trace.  Safely.

                        (If any of our children are reading this,……….)

Twelve noon found us back in Abita Springs and we had lunch in the Abita Brewery restaurant.  Herb had blackened Redfish, which he said was wonderful.  I decided to eat light for lunchtime, so ordered grilled chicken Caesar salad, and I have to tell you that anything you eat in South Louisiana is better than elsewhere!  What can I say!

Eight miles later we were back in Mandeville, thrilled through the tunnel, and back to the Trailhead.  Traffic on 190 was not so bad, and I was able to pedal across this time.  When we arrived at the guesthouse, we agreed it was one of the best bike trips we had ever had.

The next morning – on our Travel Home Day – Herb suggested that first we should pedal in the other direction, east toward Slidell.  Fountainbleau State Park was only 6 miles away, and would serve as a good morning’s exercise. 

Our only obstacle was a huge (especially from the low angle from which we were looking) maintenance bucket truck trimming tree limbs off the path.  We were able to get their attention, and they waved us on by. 

We were overtaken by a bicycle rider from Baton Rouge who regularly rides the trail, having property at two locations along the path.    Contributing to the enjoyment of a conversation with this gentleman was the soft Baton Rouge accent, only found in Baton Rouge.  Sorta made us homesick.  He told us of a coffee house on the lakefront where he frequently goes to read his morning newspaper.  Said we could safely ride our “contraptions” to it. 

At Fountainbleau we were awed by the very old oak trees draped with Spanish moss, and the expanse of Ponchartrain Lake.  Then back to Mandeville in search of the coffee house for a refreshing glass of iced tea.

The first thing we saw as we approached the seawall back in Mandeville was several sailboats not too far away.  I asked Herb to take my picture with the boats in the background, so I could give it to Debbie Simpler, one of my sailor friends in Longview.  After I saw the picture, I realized the craft were too far to show well. 

At the coffeehouse we enjoyed the patio shade and cool drinks and the peacefulness of the lake scene.  A friendly local approached us and said he had seen us riding our tricycles on Marigny Street the day before. 

We finally decided we needed to head back to Texas and would stop for lunch along the way.  What better way to remember Louisiana than to have one last Cajun meal, so we headed for Copeland’s in Baton Rouge.  What a treat!  We had crawfish and redfish Creole.  (Without the rice, Dr. Atkins.) 

And so to home, with plans to find more Rails to Trails or other bike/trike paths for future rides.

Post Script:  The Trikes are on their way to a new home in Memphis, TN.  They were purchased by a couple who hope to have as much fun on them as we did.  Good Luck!!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Willie is the Winner! -- Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sometimes we get lucky.

At the Seattle Boat Show in January I sign up for a drawing to win a month's free moorage at Foss Harbor Marina in Tacoma.  As I visit their booth, I ask "Where is Foss Harbor?  My friends and I always stay at Dock Street Marina."  I was told the location, and then remember seeing the name of the marina as we cruised the Foss Waterway to and from Dock Street.  "Yes, I will sign up for the drawing."

So imagine my surprise when I get a phone call in a few days to let me know I am the lucky winner! Wow!  I am so excited, especially when I realize that it is not too far from SeaTac Airport.  I ask if I might have my month start and end in consecutive months -- August 15 to September 15, so that Herb and I could take public transportation to SeaTac to fly home to Houston and attend our granddaughter Stephanie's wedding to Marcus.  

Sure, I am told.  There's no problem with the dates.  So on Tuesday, August 15, we cruise out of Lake Union through the Locks and into the salty Puget Sound.  Bruce and Vicki on our sister ship, Moon Shadow, join us hoping to make a stopover at Blake Island, but the marina looks full, with a few boats tied to pilings waiting for someone to vacate a slip.

Tacoma is not too far away, so we head on down the Sound.  Foss Harbor welcomes us and we settle into our slip for a nice vacation.  There is much to see and do in Tacoma, and we do quite a bit of walking.  The photo below is taken from the historical draw bridge, which is about halfway between the two marinas.   Without my Nikon for a great zoom, I aim in the direction of Willie's Tug. It's tough, but I really can see her.

Find Willie's Tug....

Found Willie's Tug....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Must See Areas in Fremont -- Sunday, August 13, 2017

For the past few days Herb and I have been glued to the TV in Tacoma, watching the weather and flooding on the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts, and praying for all those in the path of Harvey.  Fr. Jim, a priest in the Houston/Pearland area says we should all take a break from the stress, maybe play a board game.

So this morning I take a step back and think of a happier day:

While in Lake Union Herb and I take many walks, trying for a different direction every day.  From our marina today we take the canal walking path down to the Ballard bridge, then across it into Ballard. From here we follow the Burke Gilman Trail on the other side of the the ship canal bike trail.

The trail takes us to Fremont.  How often can you walk from one city to another?    So I love it when I see on the sidewalk 'city limit' signs painted that tell us we have walked from Ballard to Fremont.

This puts us near the Fremont Sunday Market, where we have lunch and visit the various vendors. Looking at Herb's path on his phone, he tells me there is a troll -- The Fremont Troll --under the Aurora Avenue bridge.  I think this is a must see!

This lovely creature is a very popular one, and people are lined up to get their photos taken by friends.  A really close look shows a young boy peering over the top of the troll's head.  He has a really big grin on his face as he turns to face his mom's camera.  Herb and I enjoy the moment, but do not stand in line to be photographed.

Being fans of the search engine, Google, we are so excited to see one of their signs as we walk near their Fremont office building.  The park on the ground level has a large cairn, and I ask Herb to please let me get a photo of him near it.

Finding our way back to Willie's Tug, we are awed by discovering a piece of the Berlin Wall which came to Fremont in 2001 to commemorate the role of Seattle and Boeing's C-47 in the Berlin Airlift of 1948.


I had had a fun conversation with boater friend Chris about the state of Washington's Fremont bridge, in comparison with Portland's Fremont bridge.   I remember driving across the one in Portland and share a link here to show its beauty.

However, I don't think I told her about the humor attached to Seattle's bridge, so as we return to Lake Union, I turn around to take these photos.  The sign claims Fremont WA is the center of the Universe, so we should turn our watches ahead 5 minutes.

Ha ha ha!

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Sunday, August 13, 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Bike Ride from Baltimore to Seattle -- Friday, August 11, 2017

Gas Works Park on Lake Union, Seattle, is our direction for the afternoon walk, and we are surprised to see a message on the sidewalk, "We are the Cure!"     Immediately it makes me think of the fund raisers benefiting cancer research.  Walking farther past this message is one that reads, "Ride strong!"   As we reach Gas Works Park, we see booths for 25, 50 or 100.  It is not clear to me whether that means a rider could sign up to do 25 miles, etc., or laps.  A lap around the lake is 6.2 miles.  Do the math.

We later are overtaken by bikers as we walk across the Fremont bridge, so we know that some of them rode into town, as well.  They had numbered tags on their shirts and logos of "Obliteride." What a great take off on Wasilla AK's husky race called Iditarod.   So they aim to obliterate cancer.

Continuing our walk around the lake, we meet Adriana, who says she spells her name with one 'n.' We ask if she is part of the race, but she says no, that her father died from cancer and she just began wanting to run.  She is in Seattle to visit her son, but lives in Chile, where her grandmother, Adrianna, is not responding well to cancer treatment.  She again tells us how to spell the name -- the grandmother's name has two 'n's.'  We have a delightful visit.

Our loop around the lake brings us to the south end, where we come upon a group having lunch. Their spokesman tells us they rode their bicycles from Baltimore to Seattle.  Names of survivors, or those who have succumbed to cancer, are written in the stripes of their shirts.  

4K on the spokesman's shirt refers to the 4,000 miles they rode.

What dedication!

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Friday, August 11, 2017

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Making Willie's Tug Shine Again! -- Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Willie's Tug is due for a good bath and Manuel of Selene Yachts Northwest, Lake Union, Seattle, is just the man to do it. However, he says he needs her to leave her end of the dock slip and cruise on up near the office, where better access will be.   We laugh about whether this is an upgrade to the high dollar area.  

Manuel says the polishing and waxing will take 'a while,' so we should chill out and enjoy the area.  It is a doable walk into the city of Fremont for lunch, so off we go. Timing gets us to the Fremont bridge just as it begins to open for tall boats. At first I think it is for the tugboat now passing under the Aroura Street bridge, but realize later it was a sailboat with a very tall mast.  No photo of it.

Traffic stops for the bridge to open.

Returning to Selene at Lake Union, we take Manuel's suggestion to chill out, but as hot as the temperature is today, it is hard to find a cool spot.  Inside the cabin would be unbearable (windows have to be closed for his work), the cockpit is in the sun;  and besides that, when he needs to work on the bow, he adjusts the lines to bring it in, and let the stern out, so that we cannot step off the swim platform to the dock.

We love watching the progress Manuel makes, as Willie's Tug takes on a new look.  We say, "Looking good, Manuel."  He replies, "Starting to shine...."

So what to do?  Where to wait?  The coolest place we see is the the fly bridge of  a new 50ft. Selene.  So up we go!   There is a nice breeze up here, plus the view is great.  Later we show Brian, broker of the Selenes, the photo below, and he jokes that he could make that viewing place permanent for us.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The RULES! -- Saturday, August 5, 2017

Queen Anne's Revenge, a tour boat offering cruises aboard the Pirate Ship glides by Willie's Tug's slip at the end of the dock at Selene Yachts NW, Lake Union WA, and we are amused at the decor of a skeleton dangling from her mast.  

Our last day of moorage in this slip, we enjoy all the boats and personal watercraft that go by, even this one speeding and giving us quite a bounce.

Uh, oh.  The dark lines in the water beyond are the fast boat's wake, and I hope when it finally reaches us, it doesn't rock the baby on the SUP.  He has a toy airplane in his hand, and I can imagine his mother telling him to hold onto it.  If this is not cute, I don't know what is!!!

Seems like I am not the only one who notices the speed of the boat.  'No wake' here means 7 knots. It's the RULES!

At two bells, the moon is still high in the sky, and all is well.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Saturday, August 5, 2017

US Navy's Blue Angels -- Thursday, August 3, 2017

The sun rises quickly this morning to display an eerie, although beautiful scene in the sky, trailing down onto the waters of Lake Union.  Lingering smoke from the BC fires contributes to the haze and causes an interesting silhouette of long boat rowers as they go past my window.  A quiet swish, swish are the sounds we hear. 

Friend Vicki has alerted us to news that the US Navy's Blue Angels will practice around noon or early afternoon for the weekend Seafest, and that we may see some flyovers from our location.  We get excited and hope to see them.  In the meantime Duke's Chowder House Waterfront Restaurant on the lake is our destination for lunch.  

The temperature is rising and it is hot -- hot!  Our path leads us by some water spouts where children play and cool off.  I am soooo tempted to walk a little closer to get some spray.  Ahead I see a young boy and a baby enjoying the water.

The cute baby is giggling as she tries to catch the water in her hands. Dad gives me permission for the photo.

The boy thinks it would be fun to cap off the water with his sand pail.

Duke's restaurant is air conditioned!  Yay! Yay! First a bowl of their awesome chowder, then a wonderfully delicious Rockin' Rockfish taco.  

No sooner do we finish lunch and walk outside, than we hear the thunderous sound of the Blue Angels.  We see them going away from us, but by standing around for a few minutes, they fly over again -- I'm sure just for my camera.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Duck! Dodge!!! -- Tuesday, August 1, 2017

If its Tuesday, it's sailboat races on Lake Union, Seattle, and smoke from the unfortunate fires in British Columbia can be noticed among the trees on the hill above the lake.  With Willie's Tug's lucky mooring site at the end of the dock, Herb and I have the best seats in the house to watch the activities.  Start time is 7P, so other water enthusiasts have plenty of time to play this afternoon. The race, named Duck Doger, is billed as a fun race.  Whimsical rules are that the boats must not cause a duck to change its course! And no boats hitting one another!!

Even the racers practice a little to warm up.   Circe is delightful, and below we take a closer look at her enchantress of Greek mythology.  Note her 'evil' smile.

More sailboats than I can count.

Malibu parades by our viewing station.

The gun sounds and the race is on!  Shogun is near our camera.

I'm not sure about this boat that anchors; possibly an official of the race.

Watch how they turn.

They are all beautiful and graceful, and I just love the colors.

We laugh out loud the first time we see this paddlewheel boat.  A real paddlewheel is at the stern, with cyclists peddling along the side.  So Herb is amused by the fact that the owner charges people to ride the boat and provide free power.  What a business model.  I think she is heading down toward the finish line for a look at the winner.

Kittiwake hosts Romans and the goddess Venus.

Spectators watch from the sidelines.  Even the electric boats.

A sailing SUP.

Winners and losers all line up on either side of the anchored boat at the end of the race for socializing.  The center boat anchors and all others raft to her.
It is a big anchor!

The race is a success, as no one hit another boat, and no ducks change course, but stay out of the way of the fun-loving sailors, only cruising by Willie's Tug to say Hello.

Herb says he has the best seat in the house.  Front row, almost center!

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Tuesday, August 1, 2017