With hardly enough time for the bugs from the Ohio trip to crust over and flake off Ol' Huck, I find myself making reservations on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina to visit my brother from Denver. He's flying in to see the Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance ... hell, I had to cut and paste the damned name of this thing into here, and still not too damned sure how to pronouce it. Hilton Head Islanders apparently wanted to bring a little class and civility to their lo-rent community by deciding to throw their first annual antique and collectable car show. They musta thought their noses weren't quite elevated enough already.
I'm hoping to find myself amongst (now, there's a classy word, huh? Amongst!) some tuxedos, and black ties and ascots, maybe an English bulldog or two in tow, because I feel like throwing on my raggediest jeans and t-shirt and stroll down the aisles farting Dixie and smoking a fattie. (For the purposes of clarification for my parole officer and children, I refer to an Arturo Fuente 'Short Story', hand rolled on the thighs of virgins in dimly lit rooms.) Besides the usual Deusenberg's and Roll's Royces and Bentley's... there promises to be a good collection of 60's and 70's muscle cars as well. I can feel the testosterone welling up already.
--- November 1, 2002 ---
After nearly a half century of living life, I find that new experiences are hitting me at a slower pace than before... many of life's 'firsts' are behind me, and I look forward to fewer firsts as time goes by. One of the big one's, however, is now behind me.
I woke up this morning for the first time as a Grandfather. Hell, I'm still in my 40's (OK, so I'm clinging on to THAT phrase for dear life) and don't even qualify for AARP yet. I still have all my teeth, have regular bowel movements and sex is still something that isn't pre-scheduled on the calendar or pre-medicated with anticipation. Although it coulda been worse. My daughter, who gave birth yesterday in Denver, turned 31 the day before and might have presented me with this honor 10-12 years ago! Yeah, I know - do the math and I was a teenaged father - probably why that particular marriage didn't work out well. I won't do any bad-mouthing about the ex... after-all my daughter loves her...I suppose daughters HAVE to love their mothers. God knows the subsequent 3 husbands shared my opinion of her.
Anyway, so what do I do on the first morning in my new status? Walk the malls with my fellow greying seniors? Alphabetize my prescription medicine cabinet? Hell no... I hop on the Harley and puff out my chest and ride through the 35 degree morning to Murrell's Inlet, 4 hours away, of course! I don't wanna be one of those Gramps who talk to their grandkids about the good ol' days on a Harley... I wanna be one who give 'em rides on Ol' Huck.
This is just gonna take some getting used to, I suppose, and I think I'm gonna start by celebrating this auspicious day on the road. In what is becoming more and more regular, I hit the Interstate and sleepwalk through the first two hours down I-95 to "South of the Border", where I thumb my nose at Pedro and take in the fine culinary dining experience of the Waffle House across the street. I always stop here when heading south, not only for the Cheese and Sausage Omelettes, but because it is 100 yds inside the North Carolina state line, and I always take this opportunity to remove the helmet here for the scoot through SC. Might not be much of a rebelious gesture, but for about 45 seconds I'm flaunting my illegality at the state troopers. (Besides, by the time they can catch me I'm in South Carolina.)
I headed head down to Murrell's Inlet, SC for a night at Bullfeathers - just another opportunity to snub my nose at Myrtle Beach and their neo-nazi cops. I'll spend all my beach money in Murrell's Inlet from now on, I promise ya that. It's a lot like Cheers, where twice a year I walk in and several people behind and in front of the bar still know my name. Ya can't put a price on that.
With the sun setting on what's been a fairly cold ride (Pic #01), I short cut through the Inlet Mall form Highway 17 Bypass over to the beach road, and take in a quick shot of Jose' Cuervo... way too cold for a cold beer, ya know. Conveniently along the way is the "Suck, Bang, Blow" (Pic #02) unchanged, but less the crazy crap that goes on during bike week. Even still, the few bikes in the lot looked trailered in, shiny and bugless.
Man, I remember when you bellied up to a bar and simply asked for a shot of Cuervo, and the barmaid would turn away for a moment and return with a shot, slap it on the bartop, and take your money with a smile, a wink, and sometimes stay for some bullshit. Here, I felt like I should've filled out a questionnaire - Chilled or room temp? (Huh? Chilled Tequilla?) Salt? Lime? Souvenier shotglass? Sheeeesh... the only option I would have been interested in was her offer of an exposed breast to do a body shot from. (Ya know... I'm thinking my dad might be reading this and I ought to explain how a body shot works, but maybe I better just leave that one alone.)
Then before I had a chance to admire the tiny ounce of precicely poured amber squeezin's, she turned and went back to her stool to stare at the TV. That's another beef of mine... TV's in bars. Bars are supposed to be someplace to go to shoot the shit with fellow revelers and barmaids. Hell, my opinion of these neon and chrome flashy bars never change, as I downed the booze and walked out. Likely unnoticed by the barmaid. (I'm still within my 2 drink maximum, so don't send me any shit about it.)
Bullfeathers is only a mile down the road, and I pull in to my usual parking space in front of the deck, climb the stairs and enter into my favorite out-of-town bar. True to form, Carm, the barma.... (uhhhh, well, she doesn't like the affectionate term Barmaid) ... the bartender, comes around the bar and meets me halfway for a hug and a kiss - just my kinda place, doncha know! I'm a bit slack this trip by not taking a single picture the rest of the evening, but suffice to say I exceeded my typical limits, and enjoyed myself. Tom, the owner and good friend, and his significant other Shari, and I entertained each other for the rest of the evening, ending up with a stayover at their place. Gotta love these kinda trips when you can spend it with friends out on the road.
At 6:30 the next morning, I quietly snuck out of their place into a 40 degree sunrise, packed the bike and waddled the bike out of their driveway, pointed the exhaust down mid-street and fired it up for an early start southbound and a planned breakfast meeting with Warran and his wife, two people I've been talking to via email for quite a while now, both following each other's riding exploits. I needed to be in Charleston, about 90 minutes south of here, and I expected to need a gas and two coffee stops before I got there.
I've been promised that flapjacks at Billy's Back-Home Diner in Mount Pleasant (Pic #03), just north of Charleston, SC, would make me forget my momma's Sunday morning griddlecakes. Warren met me a couple miles north of town and we all rode in together. Despite the cold, he was in ballcap and gloveless... these South Carolina boys are a tough breed. Pic #04 and 05 are of Warren and I and his bride, Becky just after breakfast. (I had an omelette... not in a pancake mood!). I got an escort through Charleston to the south side of town and continued on to Hilton Head on some nice back roads through Beaufort.
By the time I get to Hilton Head, I had all degrees of bug shit and road grime all over my scooter... it was my feeble protest against the ever increasing cadre of riders who spend more time on road trips polishing their bikes than they do riding them. (I know they can get pretty dusty being trailered all over the state like that. Sheeeesh.) By noon, I was on the cell phone with my brother arranging a place to meet at the Car Show.
I'm not gonna get into too much detail about the show - really nice cars there! ... Pic #09 is me next to an old '58 MGA... I had one exactly like this but a little darker red in color many years ago.
#07 = 1953 Morgan Plus Four Flat Rad.
#10 = 1970 Morgan 4/4
#13 = 1947 Plymouth S/W
#14 = 1953 Morgan Plus Four Flat Rad.
Pics #17 and 18 were taken at the end of the Saturday events... they separated different categories into a two day event. This is of the Hilton Head lighthouse and shoreline. I thought it was going to be an old authentic lighthouse, as shown on the map, but it was a crisp, clean new structure there for the retail shops in a resort called Sea Pines (which cost $5 just to drive into!)
Pic #23 is of some of the judges...see - I TOLD you they be in ties and ascots!
#22 = 1953 Buick Super
#31 = 1932 DeSoto Roadster
#32 = 1930 Ford Model A Cabriolet
#35 = 1928 Ford Phaeton
#36 = 1953 Austin Healey
#39 = 1945 MG TC
Check out Pic #43... every now and then I show y'all an example of how what you see isn't always what I saw when taking these shots... the beauty of shooting digital, is I can airbrush out elements of the scene that aren't what I want in the picture. This was such a crowded event that there were few opportunities to take pictures without someone in the background... no problem, just airbrush them out. Notice in the before and after picture, I removed several people around the background, removed the pen from my shirt pocket, slimmed up the shirttail sticking out of my pants, and removed the band-aid on my finger... even gave myself a haircut! (it was a windy day.) By the way - Thanks to Warren for this fine cigar he gave me at breakfast the other morning...
Pic#46 is me and my bruthuh Jim, who flew in from Denver to see the show as part of his business doing Vintage Showroom Automobile brochures.
#50 = A V16 Something-or-other....
#51 = 1931 Pierce Arrow 41
#55 = 1911 Rols-Royce Silver Ghost
#56 = 1938 Horch 855 Special Roadster
#57 = 1934 Mercedes Benz 500K
#59 = 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II
#61 = 1934 Lincoln KB
#62 = 1930 Lincoln 176-B Phaeton
#65 = 1903 Marr Runabout
#66 = 1909 Sears Motor Buggy
#67 & 68 = 1908 Cadillac T
... and finally, Pics #71 & 72 are shots of me and my new Panoptx windproof sunglasses. They don't look bad sitting still in the parking lot, here... but I gotta tell you I won't go anywhere without them anymore. At highway speeds and especially in this cold weather I had on this trip, they are absolutely indispensible. Usually, on a ride like this I am fighting back tears and drying irritated eyes, but they really made the trip a comfortable ride. They have a face-forming foam seal with ventilation holes. Comfortable as hell, too!
OK... by noontime on Sunday, I am back on the road northboound...another 6 hour Interstate grueling ride, but there was no time to goof off and enjoy the ride home. At least the Ultra is made for this kinda stuff, even if I'm not. By the time I hit North Carolina and the sun was going down it started to chill down fast. by 6pm, I was pulling into the garage in 40 degree weather again, chilled to the bone with all my leathers on. I've ridden in worse, but after 6 hours of it, I was pretty much happy to get off the bike and into a hot shower.
I've never been a big Collectible Car buff, but I enjoyed the show. I think any of ya might like to stroll around these old vintage cars and enjoy it. Always good to see friends and family on the road, too... Till next time - Ride Free.