Québécois vanlifers go to Cajun country

I am really loving this life! Last week, Lise Lussier reached out to me on social media, we are both followers of Far Out Ride where I had replied to them that I was  in Louisiana and could suggest things to do as they pass through soon. Lise was also asking me what to do and where to go. My standard list is: Buck and Johnnys Zydeco breakfast every Saturday morning in Breaux Bridge,   Champagnes swamp tours  on Lake Martin, Tour the Tabasco factory on Avery Island, Vermillionville  historic park in Lafayette and sample one of the 5 excellent Boudin shops in Scott and Lafayette Best stop, Don’s specialty meats , Billy’s Boudin , NuNu’s and one of the first to sell Boudin Commercially Johnson’s Boucaniere .For those that don’t know what Boudin is, here is a great short film about it.

Now back to Lise……5BE4AD77-9C50-4727-8C0F-6E04146B1BCC

Ms Lise Lussier is a retired nurse from the Montreal area that is a part time vanlifer who spends winters “down south” in the states staying active and warm.  She took my suggestion to have Zydeco breakfast at Buck and Johnnys for some Saturday morning dancing and a hike around the Lake Martin swamp. On Sunday she met me at Vermillionville for a cochon de lait and tour of the park. It was so nice to spend the day with another traveler with similar goals and aspirations.  Vermillionville is also a Harvest Host location so I helped her secure a spot for the night.

 

During our time walking through the park, I had mentioned all the amazing food we have down here in Cajun country. One of them was Boudin,  the other was the Turduckens and de-boned stuffed chicken from Hebert’s specialty meats in Maurice.

At Vermillionville, Lise waited for another Canadian Vanlifer to show up, Nicole Leclerc is a retired 1st mate on Ice breakers in the Saint Laurence seaway most of her life. She and Lise had also met on social media because they both drive vans made by the same up-fitter Safari Condo 

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The following night for them  was  at Palmetto Island State Park south of Abbeville. One the way, they stopped at Hebert’s for a stuffed chicken and invited me for dinner! ☺️😁E2A27561-82C8-42E7-8D3A-AA243E24D9CB

HOW COULD I SAY NO?!?  😁 It wasn’t a hard decision to head out in the van to the State park, luckily, I was able to get in the next spot over. We cooked the chicken(it was delicious)  on the fire pit and later watched an armadillo root around for it’s dinner. Louisiana wildlife at it’s finest 🙄

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Breakfast was buckwheat pancakes with my special blend of  Black Rifle Coffee in my van. Shortly after,  I said my goodbyes leaving them to go and explore Abbeville on bicycles.

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I really wish them the best on their travels, it would be really cool if we could meet up down the road in the future or at least hopefully sharing their story of adventure inspire others to do the same.  Get out and GEAUX!

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Doubling back to North Carolina

I’m  back in North Carolina for a few days before heading to my winter roost in South Louisiana. My long time friend and host Amanda suggested we finally go on the hike we planned over 12 years ago. Just couldn’t pass that up, so back there I went!  We headed out from her place in Landis for the Stone Mountain state park in the NW corner of North Carolina. It was a gorgeous weekend in the forecast with clear days and cold nights.

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Our night was booked with the Harvest Host at the MenaRick Winery not far from the State Park. Thanks Rick for the wine tasting and the great fire side chat!

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On the way back we stopped in Catawba NC at Murray’s Mill, it’s  a local historic landmark. Lots of families were taking their Christmas card pictures to capture the fall colors.

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Thank you Amanda for your friendship over the last decade+ , I promise to get back much sooner the next time. I’ll continue staying in touch until then.🌹

The van now has over 44,000 miles and this is my route since the last June. (Some of this was done by the bike also)  It’s  been a great vanlife so far! I can’t stress enough to get out and make your own Adventure!!!

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Joe Hauler of San Marcos Ca.

WWW.JOEHAULER.COM

I get a lot of inquiries about my hitch carrier, so I thought a dedicated post about it was necessary.

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I first heard of Joe Desrosiers back in 2016 at the Touratech Rally east from a retired Navy pilot that needed a custom motorcycle carrier for his camping rig.  Joe’s custom carrier would be necessary for me to carry my Super Tenere on the van. There isn’t anyone making a carrier for that heavy a bike( that I could find or afford). He’s been in the business for 22 years now making hitch carriers, so he knows a bit what they need to have to be safe. I’m glad I was able to find the right guy for this specific job.

I rolled into his shop one morning last July about 9 am and he started measuring then started cutting and welding. It took pretty much all day because I left the shop about 10 pm. It did leave with 3 coats of “rattle can” spray paint. ( I later had it properly powder coated in Lafayette Louisiana at Rim Pros)

Here are the specs of my bike, van and the carrier.

The motorcycle is a 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere, when put on calibrated scales weighs 550 lbs without luggage and 1/2 tank of fuel.

The van is a 2018 F-250 Ford High roof, EXT long Transit w/ Ecoboost Turbo. Heavy duty class IV hitch factory installed  with a 772lb tongue weight. The van has Airlift Suspension  and 2,  2”x4” x 2’ steel tubing welded by Joe to the frame from the hitch frame to just short of the axel to reinforce the vans subframe.

The carrier is modified from his Heavy Duty Hauler line that normally has a 800lb to 1000lb rating. It’s constructed from 1/4” thick, 2” tube steel so it really is Heavy Duty!

The set up has served me very well since that day. Now I haven’t had the bike on the carrier the entire time, but I could easily say it’s been on the back for 10,000-15,000 miles. The van currently has 44,000 miles on the odometer.  The bike is on the carrier when I do short trips or I’ll be riding frequently as I make my way across the US. I can tell the difference between having the motorcycle inside the van or on the carrier, but it’s not unsafe in the least! It’s very secure!

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The carrier was made so I can open the van doors all the way when the bike isn’t loaded. The wheel stop is removable and a pin is used to keep it in place.  I also had an “L” bracket fabricated by Joe so I can hang the carrier vertically when the bike is inside the van. It’s the custom work like this that make it totally worth it!

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When you call Joe, tell him the Kilted Cajun sent you! He is an absolute pleasure to work with!

EDIT
After posting on social media, a few concerns were raised about the safety of the hitch carrier and its mounting to my van. I’ll post the concerns and the reply from Joe.
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Reply from Joe
Glen,
For over twenty years of doing this there have been naysayers, negative Nancy’s and doubting David’s.
Without using four sheets of legal paper to doing long hand calculations we know from experience that it works. We are banking on the fact that the OEM engineers have made that trailer hitch four times stronger than they rate it as listed. That combined with our abilities to add strength where it maybe needed makes this possible without causing the vehicles to “pop wheelies”.  Placing a 400-600 lb load two feet behind the vehicle does not adversely affect the vehicles handling. Yes you can feel it back there. Yes you may want or need to increase the springs ability to hold the load. Yes you will be approaching maxing the capacity of your tow rig and adjusting your driving style and speed maybe required. Yes you may need to purchase improved load rated tires for the two bearing the brunt of the load.While an engineering degree is not required to use a hitch mounted carrier some common sense is. We have tried to make our product as strong and light as possible.
Keeping it simple has always been out motivation. Straight forward and easy to use with a few well placed quality tie straps. Testing throughly on the toughest of roads and under Baja racing conditions has proven our designs to withstand the tests of time.
Making sure your motorcycle is safe when you get to your riding place is our only goal.
You can get where you want to go with your bike with with some consideration and understanding of the physics involved.

Joe

Robins Riders in Central Georgia

8714D060-4D27-47EB-BEDB-AFCDD129D8C6David Grant is an old Air Force buddy that retired near Warner Robbins AFB Georgia that hooked me up with some of his riding buddies for a day. Thanks Dave!
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Dave had to work 😞 sad, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast with the Robins Riders.
Ricky(Tiger) was the leader with Steve( Tenere), Chris(Tenere), Barber(Tenere), Fred (Bonnieville)and Bob(Savage).
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This was our route out to lunch at Maebobs in Irwinton, we even found some dirt along the way.
I’ve said it several times that this is why I do, what I do. Getting out to meet local riders and to find 3 more Super Tenere was a huge bonus.
Enjoy the pics.

Two Wheels of Suches in North Georgia

 

What an amazing 2 &1/2 days I’ve spent here in  North Georgia! This is absolutely some of the best riding I’ve done since leaving Washington!
I pulled into the well known campground in Suches Georgia Friday afternoon, quickly found my reserved spot and at only $15 a night, the price is hard to beat! Unloaded the bike and hit the road!

 

 

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The Twisty pavement of Ga 180, Ga 60 as well as US 129. Then the off pavement forest roads of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest offer all levels of skill to traverse.
I was able to do several loops over the last few days. I only went through a bit over a tank of gas for all of this so it’s all close in!

 

 

I was able to get a bunch of really good pictures. Enjoy!

 

 

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North “Cackalaky”

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Interestingly, my time in North Carolina was made very comfortable due to friends mainly because of and through Social Media. Two people from different backgrounds and segments of my life and it’s history.

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First was Ian Schmeisser, a former Ambassador of the BMW Owners group and  BMW Friend of the Marque that’s been in the ADV community for a long time. You could even say he was one many that have helped build the ADV community in the US.  We had crossed paths in 2015 when the PNW hosted a March Moto Madness rally out in the Capitol Forest. It was a great excuse to get really dirty(muddy) while raising a few dollars for charity.  We had stayed in contact on Facebook since then and vowed to actually meet up and hopefully ride together when I was in his part of the country. He and his wife Dee Dee welcomed me into their beautiful home on a mountain top in the Smokies.

As it turned out, a bad storm blew through while there which killed the ride but not the conversation.  Spending the better part of two days listening to his stories was a treat. Learning the history of the BMW Adventure community and the “ins and outs” of the goings on behind the curtain was extremely informative.  Topping off my stay was watching the John Penton movie and hearing a lot of background about Johns amazing life. Thank you Ian and DeeDee for your hospitality! 

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The other person that made my time in North Carolina very special was a friend that had lived in Tacoma back in 2007. Amanda Josiah was out of college, figuring out her life and looking for adventure. We had met up on one occasion but life pulled us in different directions. We said we’d stay in touch, and have over the years on social media. She’s now an amazing solo mother of 2 lovely girls and a home care registered nurse outside Charlotte. Her wanting and yearning for adventure is still there, which is great to see! She is also quite the mother hen with her kids and growing  chicken coop, thank you so much for the eggs!

I was lucky to get to hang out with them on two different occasions. Once at their home then again a few days later after visiting Ian and Dee Dee. Amanda and her kids asked me to join them on their mini vacation at a cabin deep in the Smokies. ( it was actually 17 miles from Deals Gap and “Tail of the Dragon” 😉) It wasn’t hard not to accept an offer like that!

I took them on the Dragon in their car, the girls said it was better than a roller coaster, we even got their pictures taken by Killboy.

The next day, I planned a nice loop on the bike across the Cherohala Skyway to Telico Plains Tennessee and back to Deals Gap in North Carolina. Such amazing pavement and views! I’m already making plans to return to the original March Moto Madness in Tellico Plains next year. If the pavement is that spectacular, I have to imagine the dirt fire roads are even better!

Because of my great time in North Carolina, This might just be my route back west after Mardi Gras which will take me Northeast to Tennessee then west to Denver and finally the PNW.  Life is an adventure! 

Air Mobility Command Museum, Dover AFB Delaware

One of my few non motorcycle involved posts…..

The AMC museum at Dover AFB is a great to spend a couple hours when you are in the area. A good place, especially for a retired Aerial Porter after spending 22 years loading, unloading and servicing these aircraft. The big 3 here I  mainly worked were the C-5, C-141 and C130. Lots of memories were brought on by the smell of the inside, as each model has it s own unique “fragrance”. Though each model smells differently from the other, hard to explain I guess.

The C-5 “Galaxy”

The C-141 A and B model “ Starlifter”

The C-130 “Hercules”

There are lots of memories with this simple block of concrete, it was loaded inside airplanes as ballast to simulate heavy cargo for crew training. Each platform  weighed 7000lbs to 9000lbs. When I was a young airman, it was my job to put on and take off these heavy platforms .

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The rest of the aircraft on display have been used by the USAF at various points in its history to move people and cargo around the world.

The museum is free and open to the public, you don’t even have to get access to the base. Lots of history there to    see if you are in the area.