Sunday, September 11, 2016

Off to France Today!

Sunday Sept. 11th

Dear Family & Friends,

So much to talk about even though it has only been two days since my last report. I will try to keep interesting and cover it all. Here goes….
First Saturday we got up to a cloudy damp morning, but no worries by mid morning it was pouring rain… 
Luckily we started out the morning with an excellent English breakfast and tea prepared for us by our lovely host at the B&B, Susan. I have said many times the best part of traveling is meeting new people and making new friends. We not only stayed with our host Susan but we went out for a nice pub dinner with her, had many a tea, and good conversations with her. ( a few questions about Trump, and her opinion was basically how can anyone support such a vulgar man!!) We were on our best behavior so as not to come off as “Ugly Americans”.. It must of worked because several times before we left Susan invited us to come back and stay with her again.. :)
Saturday we went back to the track but honestly the event is becoming a victim of it’s own success, there are lots of interesting things to see and do but the crowds are so massive you can hardly move and you can’t get near anything. We never saw the actual track due to the crowds, the only racing we saw was on the big screen TVs. The fact that it was pissing rain most of the day tended to dampen our enthusiasm too.
Saturday night we got invited to a dinner party put on by some good friends of mine, Fraser & Roger Williams. They are the father and son team that own Suffolk Sports Cars, manufacture of high quality Jaguar replicas. A great pair. Roger, the father had a stroke earlier this year so I was worried about him but he looked and sounded terrific.
We went to a fine Spanish restaurant for lots of Tapas and fine wine. The food in England has definitely improved over the 40 years I have been going there. The party totaled 8 people and after a the wine started flowing the inevitable questions started coming at me… “Are you American crazy for promoting a man like Trump, an obvious con-man!?!?!?!?”. Of course I don't and they are relieved to know that but people around the world are seriously concerned that America could elect such an unqualified and vulgar man.. Now I know some of my friends do like Trump and after the last email I sent out one of you sent me a sermon by their preacher extolling the virtues of Trump.. Please if you are going to send me these fact free fantasy writings, don't bother..  I do have two friends in Bakersfield that absolutely love Trump, must be something in the water…… (PS: I am not a big Hilary fan either, but Trump is beyond the pale unqualified to be president).

Sunday morning we were up early to a gloriously sunny day and headed off to the ferry docks about 20 miles away.. Once we get to Europe the real adventure begins. I have spent so much time in England (And I love it) that it just feels like an extension of home.
For the most part even though we don't fully plan out our trips they go pretty smoothly. I had booked the ferry tickets months ago and arrived on time. As you board you must register your license plate number. My motorcycle has a normal plate which is a mixture of letters and numbers so no problem, Duane has a personal plate that says “CUSLER”, a family name. The young woman registering the plates was completely flummoxed , the computer would not accept Duane’s plate because in Europe they do not have personal plates or plates with all letters. She called her manager and after a lengthy discussion he offered no solution.  The young woman kept a good attitude and was determined to get us on the ferry. As I say is where there is a way there is a will and she showed great fortitude and creativity so Duane arrived with “CUSLER” on his plate but left with “CU5LER” on his plate, or at lest  the computer thought so. The young woman who thought this up was very proud of herself, we thanked her profusely and we all had a good laugh…
The ferry ride was smooth and fast and we actually arrived in France a half hour early.
From the ferry port we set off to see Omaha Beach, the site of the WWII invasion.  Once we arrived in France we set our GPS systems to avoid freeways. A great move! It takes longer but the scenery was spectacular and the motorcycle roads could not have been better. For an hour we wound our way through French country side passing farms and quaint villages.. The roads were narrow, gently twisting, and no traffic at all!
As I have said many times motorcycling involves all the scenes which makes it so great. Your are out in the open so you FEEL the weather, you are not contained in a can so you SMELL the country side, (And every country has it’s own unique smells. France smells great!), your eyes SEE more because there is no restrictions, and when you seek out interesting places there is more to see, you HEAR more or less if you are in quiet areas and you FEEL the road.
The French country side roads have a beautiful rhythm to them gently swaying back and forth with the curves. Having ridden motorcycles for almost 50 years there is no conscious thought to riding the bike, it is all instinct and the rhythm of the road translates right into your body. When I was a child I used to fantasize about being an Eagle soaring in the sky with so little effort, that is what it was like today on my motorcycle!
In about hour and a half we arrived at Omaha Beach.. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but everyone told us we must go there. Visually the place is very dramatic and beautiful. We visited the cemetery that is on a cliffs over looking the actual invasion beach. It surprised me how emotional it was.. First of all we all know it was a bloody war with many many deaths but when you see the cemetery going on and on for as far as the eye can see and there are THOUSANDS of rows of crosses and stars of David lined up one and another it strikes you what a horrible sacrifice these young men made for the world. It truly was the last Great War that actually changed the world for the better. Since then it has been one stalemate or disaster after another.
It is understandable when they are called the Greatest Generation. Most of these men were so young and gave so much.
Not to get to political but even the men and women who survived came home and built an amazing nation. They paid far higher taxes than we do today, had far less toys and possessions than we do today, smaller homes than today, and I don't remember my parents complaining, yet their hard work, taxes, and sacrifice built so much for us.  The Interstate highway system, amazing University systems, infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and amazing technology.. Some of you may not know but many of the modern amazing technological wonders we enjoy today were based on research and technology developed by the Federal Government research made possible with taxes paid by the Greatest Generation. OK enough of a sermon.
From there we solemnly rode off. As we gained distance and miles through more country side our mood picked up. Eventually we stumbled into an AMAZINGLY beautiful 15th century French town. We found a hotel downtown that was fit for a king. Checked in and enjoyed some French wine and R&R. In the hotel gardens we met many Americans vacationing there. We all shared our vacation plans and off course when two old guys like us mention we are riding motorcycles around Europe for 9weeks their jaws drop…After that we walked into town and had more wine and a good meal. All and all a great day. One more thing, as if the country side and villages aren't beautiful enough, the French women we have seen so far are stunning!

Tomorrow it is of on another adventure..
"Creative writing uninhibited by spelling and grammar!"
Our new friend, Lady Susan of Goodwood... Hope to see you again soon.

Leaving Portsmouth England and off to France!

My Noble Steed safely strapped in the vehicle area. So easy, just ride onto the ferry and get off, they tie it down for you and untie it when we arrive. Then just ride off.

An ancient fort greets us in Cherbourg France!

Cherbourg is a beautiful seaside town

The roads in France are simply ideal for motorcycling.!! :)
Could the towns be any more picturesque??

Arriving at the Omaha Beach Memorial..

Beautiful moments to the great battles, a massive cemetery, and views of the actual beach where the battles took place. Very dramatic and somber place.

A very somber place..

Interesting how these two major religions view death so differently..

Details of the actual battles from both sea and land.

Off on some more glorious French countryside roads.

The modest hotel we are staying at tonight.

My humble room, the only thing that could make it better was if Bonnie, my wife was here with me... ;)

What a contrast of technology,, a ceiling beam from the 1500s and a modern flat screen TV from today.

"THE MAN" making an entrance to the Hotel gardens.

Working hard at relaxing... is that possible??

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