Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Orleans Jazz Festival

New Orleans was always a place we wanted to go and we were not disappointed.  We went during the French Quarter Festival, a free four day jazz festival where you can enjoy all kinds of live entertainment, great food and many special events throughout the historic French Quarter.  This festival is on a smaller scale than Mardi Gras but a great party atmosphere nonetheless.  On our first day, we walked along the streets of the French Quarter down to the waterfront where there were bands playing and all kinds of food and drink available. We chowed down on Shrimp Po Boys and Crawdads...delicacies down in New Orleans. We drank Hurricanes from the legendary Pat O'Brien's. It was great to be able to walk around with a drink in hand and take in all the sights.  It was particularly odd to see down on the waterfront that the street level is actually lower than the water level.  When you look out toward the Mississippi River it is actually higher on the horizon than where you are standing. In addition to the many bands that play the Festival, there are many local street entertainers.  We saw this hillbilly band strumming a banjo, fiddle and wash board.  There is a mystique about the area that is hard to describe.  All along the French Quarter there are historic sites, great restaurants and bars and all kinds of shops including Voodoo shops where you can buy your own voodoo dolls.  
The second picture was taking while we were taking a riverboat ride down the mighty Mississippi. The river is massive and actually does have a muddy appearance.  It is certainly a sight to see.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jockey's Ridge - Nags Head, North Carolina

 While visiting the Outer Banks of  North Carolina  we took a ride on our Harley-Davidson to visit a sand dune called Jockey's Ridge.  This is the tallest natural sand dune in the Eastern U.S. and one of the key landmarks of the Outer Banks.  There is a lot of history about this sand dune and a bit of controversy as well on how it received its name. The picture of the sign below explains the possible origins of the name. Once there you'll find a ranger station located on site with facilities and a souvenir shop.   There is also a short boardwalk to the dune that is a bit of a nature trail with signs along the way describing local wildlife that once lived in the area. You will be right down the road from where Orville and Wilbur Wright first took their historic flight so if  you are visiting Kitty Hawk it is worth checking this place out. We found hundreds of people hiking and climbing the dune with kids using it as a sand slide.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills of South Dakota

While motorcycling on Needles Highway in the Black Hills, we discovered beautiful Lake Sylvan nestled in the midst of the mountains. The huge rocks on top of the cliff looked as if someone had pinched them with their fingers and placed them carefully on top. Around the lake is a park with kayak rentals and fishng.  On this particular day, there was a large cookout that was open to the public. Buffalo burgers and cold beer were the items of choice. It was a great place to stop, relax for a while and meet some great fellow bikers. We were having such a wonderful day already and this stop along the way just added to it. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Black Hills Sturgis South Dakota

While riding the Black Hills we took this photo as another example of one of the many tunnels that will lead you crisscrossing through the pristine Black Hills National Forest. There are a number of tunnels that were specifically designed to frame Mount Rushmore in the distance as you ride through. The second photo below shows as an example of why they are called the Black Hills. The pine forests are so rich in color that they make the mountains appear black.  As you are riding you will notice the air is fresh and crisp with a scent of pine. It is an exhilarating experience riding the Black Hills.