daytona beach

Duuu.. Duuu.. Looking Out My Back Door (Or, Oh Hail!)

(With apologies to CCR)

So I have training in Orlando all this week. For the locals, that means I-4 both ways. Prayers and good wishes are accepted.

Today, the first day of spring we had a nasty storm come through. And as usually happens, it hits Orlando before it hits Daytona. So I’m in class and the storm moves through dropping about marble sized hail. But it clears by the time I get out of class. No problems the entire time on I-4.

But as soon as I get off the interstate it starts to rain. But I can deal with rain. I even managed to get home before it started racing hard. Then out of nowhere I hear what sounds like branches falling on the roof. It wasn’t branches, it was good sized hail.

Hard to see through the screen, but I wasn’t going out there!



Bike Week ’18

Today the 77th annual Daytona Beach Bike Week starts. Originally this event was nothing more than a small dirt bike race. It has now ballooned into a 10-day event (I hesitate to call it a festival) that floods our local streets with upwards of 250,000 motorcycle “enthusiasts”.  We get everything from the rich doctors and lawyers riding their $100,000 custom bikes (which only come out of the garage for this event – they’re not even ridden into town, the bikes are usually in a toy-hauler to protect them from the elements – or they just rent them), to some very serious biker types (not exactly Hell’s Angels or Outlaws, or at least if they are gang members they’re smart enough to remove their colors before coming into town). Usually, the majority of the bikers are your everyday rider that goes out on weekends and when the weather is nice kind of folks.

But that doesn’t make them your regular tourist. Remember, Daytona is tourist income based town. We have four major events every year that keep the revenue up. Two bike events, and two NASCAR race events. Everybody that I know that works in the hospitality or food industry (both of my sons, one ex-daughter-in-law, and one current girlfriend) will tell you that they’d rather have bikers over race fans any day.

Race fans, which will number in the 75,000 to 100,000 range depending on which race week we’re talking about, don’t seem to understand that a small town like Daytona cannot handle that many people at the same time. Our restaurants will have waiting times of two hours or more, run out of certain high demand items (i.e. snow crabs), and just generally be a miserable place to be. Us locals tend to stay at home during these times.

Bikers, on the other hand, have no problem waiting for a place to eat. They just go grab a beer a hang out in the parking lots when there’s no room anywhere else. Most restaurants will have one or more “Beer Tubs” in the parking lot with pretty girls in short shorts and crop tops selling beer (usually at the same price as usual – quantity is king).

When we first came to Daytona (1997), most the bike week festivities took place just a mile or two up the street from our apartment. So other than the Harley’s gunning up and down the road outside the windows making it impossible to listen to the TV, it was no big deal to walk up to the “party area” have some fun and walk home.

But then Daytona did it’s usual (got greedy and/or stupid). They had already driven the Spring Break TV shows away, we still do get some college kids, but not like it used to be when MTV would be here every year. Now they set their sights on Bike Week. Daytona Harley Davidson (the area where everything happened just up the road from us) used to rent the big grassy area across from the Harley shop really cheap. I’ve heard anything from $1000 to as cheap as $1, so I don’t know for sure. But I do know that city raised the “rent” to $10,000. So, the guy that owned the Harley dealership closed that shop and moved north to an unincorporated area of the county. He built a huge complex. Not only his new Harley Shop but a hotel, restaurants, a truck shop, even a motorcycle mechanic school. The area is called Destination Daytona (even though it’s not within the city limits). There is also a nice covered open-air concert pavilion.

One other area that the bikers still go is Main Street. Yes, Daytona really has a Main Street, although it’s only on the beachside, once you cross the bridge it’s Fairview Ave. The city engineers loved to play with street names back in the day. This place gets packed. It’s lined with bars and clubs on both sides. You’ll see every type of motorcycle you can think of parked along the road, all nice and neatly backed in. The crowds are worse than Disney on the 4th of July (and I’ve been to Disney on the 4th, it’s freaking crazy).  About every 100 feet you’ll find a “Beer Tub” as I describe above, except the prices are a bit higher on Main Street.

And the people! You’ll see so much leather you think the Village People are performing. Men and women in chaps (and there’s no telling what some of the women are or aren’t wearing under the chaps). Leather jackets or vests all over the place. It’s a bit scary to see what appears to be a gynecologist or a real estate broker wearing all leather, drinking a Mich Ultra, while talking to the tax accountant, also wearing leather chaps, a leather vest with a very clean Harley patch (only worn once a year) and also drinking a Mich Ultra, probably raspberry flavored. While their rented Harley’s sit out at the curb. Best patch I’ve ever seen during a bike week event said: “$10,000 and 10,000 miles doesn’t make you a biker!”

Standing right next to them will be the Euro bikers. We get many from Europe that come over for this event. They will have the BMWs and Triumphs parked out front. They are easy to recognize, as they will be considerably younger, and have the Kevlar padded road suits instead of leather. Oh, they’ll be drinking Grolsch or Stella Artois (which I think is Belgium for Budweiser).

The official website for the event is: (Not real original is it?). Sometimes a location will have a webcam streaming, so look for those if you’d like.

And in case you’re wondering, no I do not ride. Like most things in life, I’m simply a voyeur. I’ve only been on a motorcycle once in my entire life when I was about 8.  Just doesn’t appeal to me, nor do jet skis, four-wheelers or any of that ilk.  Oh well.

And I’m not complaining about the events or the bikers. I thoroughly enjoy bike week. The weather is usually beautiful (but, it does tend to rain the first weekend – very odd that’s it’s always that one weekend). I get to see some beautiful bikes as I go to and from work and sometimes so very attractive ladies on those bikes. I no longer attend any of the free concerts or other events, but we do not hesitate to go out for dinner during bike week like we do on race weeks. The bikers are much more fun.

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than  cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.” ~ Billy Joel – Only The Good Die Young


P.S. If you do a Google Image search for “Daytona Bike Week” you *may* want to turn “safe search” on depending on who may be looking over your shoulder (children/boss/small furry animals/etc…). You’ve been warned.

Elon Musk Are You Listening?

(Note: I have been sitting at the house this morning waiting on a repair man to fix my (former) beer fridge. So basically I’m now 4 hours late for work)

Daytona Beach and the surrounding environs aren’t all the big. The U.S. Census estimates the entire county population at 529,364. That’s the entire county, we’re only a small slice on the eastern edge.  So why is traffic so damn bad?

It’s takes me 25 – 30 minutes to travel the short 12 miles to and from home to office. Now some it is to blame on the traffic lights.  I swear there is a section of about 3 miles with a light every quarter-mile. And I seriously doubt they’re timed for anything other than a NASCAR driver (the Daytona International Speedway is just down the street). I very seldom get my truck out of 3rd gear in this area. I like to call this the “red light district”.

But that’s not what pisses me off the most.  Here’s my drive in today. Granted it was about 12:30PM so traffic would be naturally heavier than my usual 7:20AM drive time. But it’s not the volume of traffic, it’s the idiots.

First – Sitting at a red light (still in the residential area – nowhere near the “red light district”), I’m second in a line of three cars.  A fire truck is coming at us, but still a good mile away. What does the first car do? Why just sit there and wait for the firetruck to pass of course. They could have very easily pulled up far enough to allow all three of us to get through the intersection and pull off to the right, with plenty of time and space to spare. But instead, they sit there. And after the fire truck goes by, the idiot goes through the intersection, running a red light I might add, and almost causing an accident.

Second – Same street, different driver, another red light (still not at the “red light district”).  Apparently this one has no clue what “right on red” means. Sits through an entire red light, with no one coming waiting on the green. It’s only legal in ALL 50 STATES to turn right on red. Where did they buy their license? K-Mart?

Third – Approaching the “district”.  Guy in left lane doing 30MPH in a 45MPH. Oblivious to his surroundings. Guy in the right lane, with right turn signal on (bonus for using a turn signal) is apparently lost as he is slowing at every possible right turn to see if that’s where he needs to go.  Me? I’m stuck behind them both.

Here’s a video that sums it up, there will be more below, so you can continue reading while listening if you wish:

If you think I’m only stressing because I gave up beer five days ago, you’d be wrong. Even though I am questioning that decision, that fact remains that I have been screaming at other drivers for years.  Now I not one to lay on the horn and flip the bird. I yell and scream in the comfort of my personal sanctuary, the truck. And I do my best not to “act out” when the little ones are with me. Well, I do try, doesn’t always work.

So I wonder how people who live in big cities can drive at all. My brother lives in a suburb (or “bedroom community” if you prefer) of Atlanta. No way in hell I’d live there with all that traffic. One thing I will say for the Army is that they tend to make their facilities in smaller towns. Of course there are some that are located next to bigger cities, but not that many. And of course, once the Army (or any military branch for that matter) moves in, the community will grow. Not always a good or bad thing.

Now I have the 5PM “rush 15 minutes” to look forward to on the way home. I wonder what kind of idiots I’ll see on this trip. Probably the usual, no turn signals, 10MPH under the limit in the left lane, slowing down for green lights “in case it changes” (my mom was famous for that one), coming to a complete stop before turning right and so many others.

So what does this have to do with Elon Musk? This; Sir, you have made the Telsa automobile a success. You have made the Space X project an even bigger success. I mean, landing a rocker booster on a platform floating in the ocean? How could you top that?  Easy – Star Trek transporter. If anyone can do it, it’s you.

Just think, when you’re ready to go somewhere, program in a set of coordinates and push a button and like magic you’re there. Forget something, just go back the way you came and get it, then back to where ever you were going to begin with. Quick and easy.  No idiots getting in the way.

So please Elon, I begging here. Otherwise I’ll have to arm my truck with photon torpedoes to clear the road, and no good can come of that.

Think about it? Please?