DJ's Thunderbird Adventure (June 2014 )

Day 1

Finally the big day arrived when Ladybird (my lovely Triumph Thunderbird) and I started our 2-1/2 week road trip adventure on Saturday morning (June 7th). The weather was perfect for an early morning ride - sunny and cool. We met in Crestview, FL at the Tom Thumb, fueled up and headed west on I-10 as we decided to go the fastest most direct way to San Antonio, TX.

The ride was much like many others as we blasted through the Florida Panhandle, Alabama and to Biloxi, MS for our first fuel stop and a milkshake. Then away we went to Louisiana and cut across I-12 to Baton Rouge then back on I-10.

Soon we were crossing the bayou on the never-ending bridge. As a child, I remember always being fascinated by bridges and to this day I still enjoy riding or driving across bridges. The scenery is so different from Florida and I love this part of Louisiana. Heading west leaving Lake Charles, there is a huge bridge crossing the river that generally made me nervous when I was driving a truck and had to cross it. It's wide across, extremely steep as it appears to go almost straight up for about a mile, cross the pointed top, and then straight down the other side. I was really looking forward to crossing that bridge on my bike ... and it was awesome !!!

We crossed into Texas then made one last fuel stop at Beaumont. At that point we had traveled 530 miles since 9 AM. We were joking about having just ridden 1/2 the distance of an Iron Butt ride. The Sand Dollars made an Iron Butt ride several years ago and they turned around in Winnie, TX which was another 30 miles down the road so off we went to Winnie and called it a day.

Day 2

Since we didn't have that far to go, we took our time heading out. As I was born & raised in Texas, I was not looking forward to going through Houston which was 72 miles away. I was pleasantly surprised when the traffic was flowing smoothly, so we decided to just stay on I-10 instead of going around it. Obviously I was having a blonde moment as I was thinking how quickly the traffic was moving at 9 AM during rush hour ..... and then it dawned on me that it was actually Sunday. <<DUH>>

San Antonio was now 148 miles away and the great weather continued until we got about half way then the clouds started turning into a thunderstorm so we pulled into a convenient rest area to check the weather and wait it out. Texas has some amazing rest areas and this one was no exception as they had a movie and several displays available for our entertainment. The thunderstorm continued away from us and we continued our journey in San Antonio with no further adventures.

After checking into the hotel, we unpacked our bikes and walked to the Alamo and dinner on the Riverwalk. Total mileage at this point is 780 miles.

Inserting a shameless unauthorized/non-requested plug for D&D Cycles: I met them for the first time at their Toys for Tots event in December 2012 and bought my 1700 cc Thunderbird from them on January 20, 2014. They are the most awesome people I have ever met and I can't say enough good things about them. When I was ready to buy a new bike, I didn't have a particular make in mind but I made a point of visiting each dealer in Ft Walton Beach & Pensacola to compare every model. As soon as I walked into D&D Cycles, the staff immediately greeted us and asked what they could do for us. I walked directly to this bike and literally couldn't drag myself off it. Ladybird is the most amazing bike and does everything I ask of her without any hesitation or effort and still has more left to give. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best bikes on the market and I would not have attempted to make this road trip on any other bike.

Day 3 - San Antonio, TX

After a quick breakfast, we decided to get a ticket on the double decker bus as today was all about playing tourist. Even though I lived in San Antonio before and was familiar with the area, I learned things about San Antonio that I didn't know. The tour guide was outstanding and pointed out many local establishments. The great thing about this bus is they offer a "hop and go" pass so a visitor can get off at any time to visit a particular place then hop back on and continue their tour.

During our tour, it started raining and by the time we arrived back at Alamo Plaza it was raining fairly hard. Ripley's Believe it or Not museum became our first choice to wait out the rain. We wandered around the museum discussing what was real or not, playing with the hands-on exhibits, the brain teasers and laughing at the people on the other side of the mirrors when they didn't know we could see them. And of course the mirrors distorted the images so they didn't look anything like what they were seeing on the other side. It was great fun and a very entertaining way to spend a couple hours.

Next on the list was The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum which is an amazing place. Seventeen-year-old Albert Friedrich was a bartender and bellhop at the Southern Hotel on Main Plaza in downtown San Antonio when he decided to open his own saloon across the street in 1881. He learned that many folks traveling on the trail didn't have much money in their pockets, so he had the brilliant idea to accept horns and antlers in exchange for a free beer or whiskey from his saloon. From then on, the Buckhorn collection grew to become one of the world's most unique and largest collections of horns and antlers of animals in Texas and possibly the world. Albert’s wife, Emile got into the family business as well. She began to accept jars of rattlesnake rattles in exchange for a drink and would use these to create works of art that can be seen on display at the Buckhorn.

Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders in the Saloon and Pancho Villa is rumored to have planned the Mexican Revolution here as well. Many of the original saloon furnishings are still in use today including the back bar which was handcrafted from maple and cherry wood. The bar features 7 locally brewed beers on draft including Shiner Bock, Lone Star, Alamo Beer and 4 seasonal Real Ale craft beers.

The Buckhorn Museum features wildlife from all over the world including fish from the seven seas, animals from every continent and strange animal oddities which have been collected for over 100 years. The exhibit halls display over 520 species of wildlife and many are record holders. The Buckhorn’s most prized record holder is the famous ‘78 Point Buck’ hung in the center of the large mirror behind the bar and it is impressive. The rack was sold to the saloon owner for $100 dollars back in 1890. Other amazing specimens include a record 1,056 pound black marlin and a 10,000 year old pre-historic Irish elk. Every hallway, balcony and mirror have racks of antlers displayed to cover the entire walk-through.

In 2006, The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum expanded again when an additional museum, The Texas Ranger Museum was added onto the attraction. The Texas Ranger Museum features hundreds of authentic Texas Ranger artifacts including automatic handguns, shotguns, badges and more. The museum also features a recreation of San Antonio at the turn of the century in Ranger Town and includes a replica Buckhorn Saloon, a jail cell, blacksmith and a replica of the 1934 Ford V8 Deluxe—the famous Bonnie & Clyde getaway car. This is an incredible display of horns and animals from around the world - including the famed elusive Jackalope - and is well worth spending several hours in the museum.

Day 4

Back on the road again and heading to El Dorado, AR. We initially started on I-35 to Waco then headed across the countryside on Hwy 84 to Hwy 31 through Corsicana, Tyler and up to I-20. I absolutely love driving through the Hill Country in east Texas. It was a perfect day for riding - the weather was sunny and cool, the sky was a crystal clear blue with white fluffy clouds floating above us, the trees and grass vivid shades of green. There is nothing that smells better than freshly mowed grass. The cows were scattered about in their pastures while the bright glistening calves with their snow-white faces or black shiny coats cavorted around or testing their first taste of the grass. At the intersection of I-20 we traveled east through Shreveport, LA then headed north on a couple country roads until we crossed Hwy 7 towards El Dorado, AR. Once again, we were traveling through some beautiful country scenery and smooth curvy roads until we arrived at our destination. Today's ride was 554 miles for a total of 1,334 miles.

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Last revised: September 9, 2014
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