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No bones about it: Moto-Foodie Heads South to Cayo Hueso.

23 Nov

Sunset Key

Sunset Key

 

 

 

One does not have to board a plane or boat to experience the Caribbean Islands. Jump on a motorcycle and there’s another 127 miles of highway south of Miami before one runs out of pavement on Cayo Hueso, the Island of Bones.

The Overseas Highway, U.S. Route 1, connects “The Keys” like beads strung on thread that are spaced by 43 bridges. There’s no other stretch of pavement like it, but sometimes the 100-mile conga-line of traffic diminishes what otherwise would be one of the great motorcycle roads in America—and I wouldn’t want to ride it when there are high winds.

The southern end of U.S. Rt. 1

The southern end of U.S. Rt. 1

U.S Rt. 1 ends at mile 0. While this is not the westernmost island, it’s as far as the highway goes. The word “key” is actually the Spanish word “cayo” for a low-lying island. Ponce de Leon, of fountain-of-youth fame, discovered Cayo Hueso in 1513 and the imaginative Spaniard named it for the proliferation of human bones discovered here: the Spanish name is pronounced Kéy Wes.

There’s no fountain of magic water on the island—in fact, water is piped in from Florida City 120 miles away—but there’s still plenty to drink. Moto-foodie’s excuse for visiting was to research Key lime pie and margaritas with a bit of the local culinary scene thrown in to balance sugar and alcohol intake.

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Journey to the End of the Road: Following the Cote Nord

10 Jul

The end of the road has become an almost mythical place in our modern collective imagination; the place where a person runs out of options and must turn back or begin anew. The objective truth is that most highways don’t simply stop. Rather, they merge with or junction at other roads so travelers can roll on to their next destination. Yet here I am. The official highway sign says “FIN” and behind it lies a wild untamed river. I’ve been told that Quebec intends to extend the road all the way to Labrador in the future, but for now Route 138 ends at the Natashquan River.End of the road-KJA

 

It’s my father’s fault. At a very early age he instilled in me an insatiable curiosity about where a road might lead. On Sunday rides he’d spy a road and ask, “Where does this go,” and our family would be off on a minor journey of discovery for the remainder of the day. Route 138 is a familiar highway. It crosses the Mercier Bridge and becomes Rue Sherbrooke, an intimate part of Montreal that’s less than a mile from home, while the Chemin du Roy to Quebec City and even through the Charlevoix Region to the Saguenay River is well-known territory. Eight hundred and sixty miles long, it stretches from the New York border at Trout River to Natashquan on the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and 500 miles of that is east of Tadoussac. But what lies beyond Tadoussac? What will be found at the end of the road? I had to know.

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Motorcycle Tourism Checklist for Lodging

30 Sep

Motorcycle Tourism Checklist for Lodging.

Motorcycle Tourism Checklist for Lodging

30 Sep

 

It’s a head count; bed count, and if your hotel, motel, inn, or resort isn’t booking at close to 100% capacity you probably are spending money on advertising to attract more clients.   Advertizing is a primary component of any marketing plan, but misdirected advertising is not only a waste of resources, it is also counterproductive.

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My specialty is developing motorcycle and food tourism, but the approach I’ve developed can be applied to any special interest niche—scuba diving, mountain biking, or any other.  Before developing any marketing plan, I advise clients to take an inventory of assets and to match them against potential markets.

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Moto-Foodie in Milwaukee

17 Sep

 

I could dimly see through the blacked-out windows of the van as our driver rolled slowly down the narrow alley past a line of overflowing trash bins.  I could smell the river when we stopped at a non-descript doorway. This late in the evening the dim glow of the lamp mounted on the yellow brick wall barely illuminated the small bronze plaque that read, International Exports, Ltd. / 779 Front St. / Estab. 1968. Clad in a London Fog trench coat, our driver merely indicated the heavy door and we quickly stepped through into a small room. Two women barred our way and demanded the password. We had arrived at the Safe House.

This wasn’t London, nor was it a James Bond film, but it might as well have been. This was my first night in Milwaukee and while I could find people who admitted knowing about this long-established watering hole, not a soul would tell me more or divulge the password. Even our driver claimed that he wasn’t privy to it.

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However, it’s no secret that Milwaukee is a motorcycle-friendly town or that was once known as the “beer capital of the world.”  Most of us are on a first-name basis with Miller, Schlitz, Pabst, and Blatz, but the renaissance of craft beer and the amazing foodie scene in Wisconsin’s largest city were excuse enough to linger a couple of extra days before heading home. Continue reading

Best Western, Mid-Western Ride

10 Sep

On a dreary spring morning I received an email invitation to join a promotional tour that promised free food and three days of riding with other moto-journalists—so, without reluctance, my gear was packed and I flew to Kansas.  Two things motivated my decision to fly-and-ride: I needed a get-outta-town-free card and wanted to see what Best Western and Harley-Davidson were up to.

For decades there have been numerous small businesses that have welcomed motorcyclists, but seven years ago, Best Western Hotels and Harley-Davidson created the first corporate partnership that specifically promoted motorcycle tourism. Extremely successful with over 110,000 Harley owners in the Rider Rewards program it came as no surprise that they wanted to announce that this partnership has been extended for another three years.  However, Best Western had something else on their agenda.

Picking up my bike at Worth’s Harley-Davidson in Kansas City I followed what would become the group’s chase van to the KC Speedway Inn. Outside it looked like a nice Best Western property but inside it definitely was a boutique hotel.  The fact that the open, elegant bar was being thoroughly enjoyed by a group of riders merely added to the ambiance.  Aparently, not all Best Western hotels are created equal.

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Motor Bar & Restaurant: A Harley-Davidson Moto-Foodie Experience

31 Jul

The bar is graced by a replica board track racer.

The bar is graced by a replica board track racer.

Three days of riding and dining got us here.  We arrived on different flights, picked up our Harleys and met at the Kansas City Speedway Best Western Premier hotel.  Three days of riding and scrumptious dining as we crossed Missouri and rode north through Illinois.  However, all things must come to an end and, in the parking lot behind the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Museum, the Motor Company reclaimed the bikes.  However, before we went our separate ways there was still one more dining experience to savor: the Motor Bar & Restaurant. Continue reading

Absinthe Cafe

29 Jul

Marble sculptures of fire hydrants topped with vegetables decorate corners along Wellington St. West in a neighborhood called Wellington Village. It’s an area in transition from a staid to hip, offers interesting private boutiques, a few specialty bars, nouveau-hippie stores, and reputedly great restaurants. One of these is the Absinthe Café.

The restaurant has a very unpretentious storefront with large windows facing the street, and the neat, but understated, décor is infused with great vibes. As a member of Savour Ottawa, the owners are committed to locally sourced ingredients and their community involvement includes donating a dollar to Cornerstone Housing for Women for each Benevolent Burger
sold.
Absinthe-exterior-72 Continue reading

Cafe At The Plaza

26 Jul

It’s not a place you’re likely to stumble across when wandering around Milwaukee during Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary Celebration. Located in a vintage luxury hotel just off East State Street and very close to Veterans’ Park where many of the official H-D venues are taking place, the Café At The Plaza is one of those secret places the locals are reluctant to share.

Art-Deco elegance and friendly diner atmosphere.

Art-Deco elegance and friendly diner atmosphere.

Open kitchen means there is nothing to hide.

Open kitchen means there is nothing to hide.

Don’t expect to find a big sign outside this small restaurant, instead, enter the lobby of the Plaza Hotel, turn right, up three steps and proceed down the hall. The original 1920’s Art Deco details, gorgeous 1950’s styled curved lunch counter, and recently renovated open kitchen blend together in harmonious synergy to create a gentle elegance without pretention. The outside garden patio was another tempting setting, but I chose to sit at the counter where I would have the opportunity to chat with chef Christopher Stoye Continue reading

Riding Down the Walloostook: From the Republic of Madawaska to the Fundy Coast

5 Nov

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The St. John River is the north boundary between Maine and Canada.

I see storm clouds on the horizon.  There have been storms here before, most notably during the Aroostook War of 1839-41.   This was the conflict that almost caused a third war between the U.S. and Great Britain—in fact the Governor of Maine actually did declare war on England.  It’s an interesting story about company greed, commodity speculation, conflicting territorial claims, refugees, and extremist groups escalating disagreements to the point of armed conflict and it would make headlines today is you substituted the word lumber for oil.  Feed-up with corporate greed and political posturing the settlers in this beautiful valley declared themselves to be the independent Republic of Madawaska.

The oldest original blockhouse in the United States is located in Fort Kent, Maine.  Built in 1839 during the Aroostook War, it marks the end of the first mile—or in my case, the beginning of the last mile—of U.S. Route 1.

Crossing the Walloostook, what is now called the Saint John River, I follow it downstream.  In 1843 a treaty was hammered out in Paris that defined the international border between Maine and New Brunswick, however the Republic of Madawaska still exists, encompassing both sides of the border and with the title of president being traditionally bestowed upon the mayor of Edmundston.

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Bricklins were the only car manufactured in New Brunswick.

I’m trying to catch the end of the annual Edmundston Jazz & Blues Festival, but am hours behind.  As it begins to rain, I pull into the parking lot of the Antique Automobile Museum.  It’s supposed to be a quick stop to take some photos and inspect the Bricklin, but I become sidetracked by the REO (the car, not the rock group) and a Detroit Electric–yes, Detroit was producing electric cars from 1907 to 1923–then by the 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom and a pristine 1928 Ford Model A.  Before realizing it, time has passed and the rain is now steady.

Wearing 100% waterproof gear and mounted on a Street Glide trike I could care less about wet pavement and depart to catch the last of the festival.  Alas, it isn’t to be.  I hunker beneath the Route 2 overpass as the worst storm of the last two years rolls through.  By the time it lets up enough for an escape to downtown, the festival has disappeared like street litter down a storm drain. Continue reading

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