TOP DAWG

•June 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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There is a hamburger joint on every corner but when you want a hotdog you have to go searching. I am not sure why that is true. After all, the hotdog is listed right up there with apple pie as one of America’s favorite foods.

Now I don’t eat hotdogs all the time, but every once in a while I get a real craving for an old-fashioned Coney or a Chicago Dog and when that happens I really don’t have a lot of choices; make them myself or go to Sonic. Now everyone knows I don’t cook and while there is nothing wrong with Sonic, their dogs really lack bite or bark. Recently however I found an incredible place that serves up some pretty incredible dogs not far from where I live right here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. What’s more, these aren’t just your “garden-variety” hotdogs. These are gourmet dogs with a south Louisiana kick.

The place is called Frankie’s Dawg House. It has been around for a few years, but recently came under new ownership and the new owner has added a number of Cajun and south Louisiana specialties to the menu including alligator and deer sausage.

Bob Courtney and I checked them out a couple of Saturdays ago and we were both completely blown away. Check out my report and pay them a visit. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Bikers love road food and when it comes to hotdogs Frankie’s Dawg House is definitely Top Dawg! It is only a short ride for me and believe me I will be making it again. Real Soon! I might even bring my dogs, well in the truck, not on the Harley.

By the way you couldn’t meet a nicer bunch of people either and no, I didn’t eat four hotdogs. Bob ate part of one.

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SATURDAY PIE RUN

•February 22, 2016 • 1 Comment

This Saturday morning I woke up with an incredible craving. I must have been dreaming about food. Well, I do dream about food sometimes. Anyway I wanted pie. Yes pie. You know, fresh baked, homemade pie. Now since I don’t cook that meant I had to go and get myself some pie and since the weather forecast called for highs in the 70’s and no chance of rain that meant taking a spin on Red Ryder, my 2013 Street Glide. “Ride to eat – eat to ride” — that is my motto you know.

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Within a few moments I was on the bike and headed north. Now there are several really good places to get top-notch homemade pie around here and one of my favorites is Mammy’s Cupboard just outside Natchez, Mississippi. Mammy’s is one of those quirky, roadside attractions you find off the beaten path. Built around 1940, the building is basically a big, uh, southern mammy, as in Gone With the Wind Mammy. Actually the place wouldn’t be very politically correct these days, except over the years, with every new coat of paint, Mammy’s complexion has gotten a lot lighter.

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Mammy’s has been a lot of things since 1940 and today she hides an incredible roadside cafe underneath her skirt. If you like good southern style home cooking with menu items like chicken pot pie, red beans and rice, roasted chicken and vegetable soup this place fits the bill. But the deserts are what I come for. If you want lemon pie with five inches of creamy meringue piled on top or banana and caramel pie topped with crunchy toffee this is a must-stop kind of place.

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Now if it weren’t for the fact that Mammy’s is more than 100 miles from my driveway I would come here at least once a week. I would also have to install heavy duty shocks on Red Ryder and the Lipstick Bike. Thank goodness I don’t normally dream about pie. But when I do I head straight to Mammy’s Cupboard on U.S. 61, just south of Natchez. It makes for a great motorcycle ride and more than that, like me, it is just a little bit quirky.
See you on the road.

Tee

TW AND OMR

 

RIDING YEAR ROUND

•February 15, 2016 • 1 Comment

I love living and riding in South Louisiana. Oh, I know we don’t have beautiful mountain vistas. After all, Driskill Mountain, the state’s highest point is only 535 feet above sea level and covered with trees. But some of the roads and highways that hug our rivers and bayous are just as twisty as many mountain byways.
The fact is, Louisiana is filled with incredible beauty from the swamps and bayous in the south to the rolling hills and hardwood forests in the northern part of the state. I have been riding this state from one corner to the other for nearly fifteen years and I have yet to see it all. As some of you know, I like to use Susan Sontag’s great quote, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it is on my list,” to describe my quest to see as much of this state as I can.
Perhaps the greatest thing about living and riding in Louisiana is that I can do it every month of the year. Many of you who live elsewhere have to store your bikes for the winter. Not here in the Bayou State. Now we do get rain, and if you are a fair weather rider you might want to sit out the occasional thunderstorms. Of course we also are occasionally visited by tropical storms and hurricanes and during those times we pretty much have other things on our mind.
Now I don’t normally ride when the temperature dips below fifty, but when that does happen it is usually only for a few days in a row and then it is warm again. This weekend high temperatures reached into the upper sixties and I donned my leathers, put on the heated grips (my hands get cold in the summer sometimes) and headed out on the highway.
I like riding when there is no particular place to go. I have written about it before. I call it helmet time — just me, the bike and the highway stretching out before me. Usually I just pick a general direction like north, south, east or west. Sometimes, I choose a particular highway or road. Each time it is different. Saturday I chose to ride west. My route took me primarily along Louisiana highways 16 and 22 through Livingston Parish into Tangipahoa and back again.

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Since there was a chill in the air I decided I would take a lunch break for a little hot gumbo. One of the great things about riding in Louisiana, especially along Highway 16 and 22 is there are dozens of great places to pull off and enjoy a locally cooked meal featuring fresh caught Louisiana seafood. I found great gumbo and shrimp salad at Charlie’s Steak and Seafood House in Springfield, Louisiana.Charlie’s is one of my favorites and I have enjoyed many meals there.
In all I racked up about 200 miles and enjoyed a wonderful meal – making for another great riding day in Louisiana, thanks to our year-round riding season. I even made it home in time to put Red Ryder away and take the Lip Stick Bike for a spin around the neighborhood.
Life is good. Yes?

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Tee

 

BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS

•November 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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“In 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip…”

I hate to admit it, but that old Johnny Horton song was about the sum of my knowledge concerning the battle of New Orleans until a recent ride to Chalmette, Louisiana. That ride took me to the National Park which today commemorates that pivotal event in American history officially known as the Battle of New Orleans.

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The address of the Chalmette Battlefield is 8606 West St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette Louisiana, so the Battle OF New Orleans was actually the Battle FOR New Orleans, since it took place in St. Bernard Parish, just down-river from the famous city.

What history refers to as the Battle of New Orleans was actually a series of skirmishes that began before Christmas in 1814 with the final deciding battle taking place on January 8, 1815.

By the way, the Johnny Horton song apparently demoted Andrew Jackson a couple of ranks since he was actually a Major General not a Colonel at the time.

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Today the Battlefield is a beautiful green space in what is mostly a densely industrialized area.

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The first thing you will notice as you enter the gate is a one hundred foot obelisk which looks very much like the Washington Monument. Built to honor those who fought and died in the battle of New Orleans, the monument was actually proposed in 1852 but not completed until 1908.

The battlefield area is lined on one side with re-enforced earthworks and cannon representative of those used by Jackson’s troops in defense of the city.

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The visitor’s center includes an interpretive exhibit on the battle as well as artifacts and other objects and art from the period. It is a great place to learn all about the War of 1812 and the significance of the events that took place here.

Many people like to point out that the war was over when the battle of New Orleans was fought. Not true, according to Park Ranger Ron Merrell. While it is technically true the Treaty of Ghent had been signed on Christmas Eve 1814, it had not been ratified, so the war was far from over — In fact, fighting actually continued in Louisiana until the official British retreat on January 18, 1815.

Merrell says the Battle of New Orleans was important for a number of reasons, because it helped establish the young United States as an important player in world affairs and it of course made Andrew Jackson a national hero ultimately carrying him to the White House.

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Speaking of houses, there is also a beautiful old home located on the Battlefield. Known as the Beauregard House it was constructed on the property about 18 years following the battle. The National Park Service restored it in the 1950’s and portions of it are open for tours. Some people claim it is haunted, but I didn’t see anything unusual, of course it was mid-day when I visited.

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Early next year, there will be a series of events in the New Orleans area celebrating the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans. You know, a ride to New Orleans is a great ride anytime but if you are a history buff now would be the time to start planning a trip to the Crescent City.

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For more information on the Chalmette Battlefield and the upcoming Bicentennial here are a few links that might be helpful.

http://www.visitstbernard.com/events/200th-anniversary-battle-new-orleans#.VG4OTIXnb1I

http://www.nps.gov/jela/chalmette-battlefield.htm

Hope to see you in New Orleans in January. Until then, I’ll see you on the road.

Oh and one other thing, I promised Ranger Merrell I would not use that Johnny Horton song, but he said it was okay as long as I pointed out this historical fact: The tune to the Horton song is actually taken from an old 19th century fiddle tune called “The Eighth of January” which was written of course to commemorate the Battle of New Orleans.

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Watch out, riding a motorcycle can be a very enlightening experience!

Tee

THE GREATEST GENERATION

•November 11, 2014 • 1 Comment

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Today is one of America’s most important holidays. It is Veterans Day. A time to honor all the men and women who have served our country in the military.

When I can, I like to celebrate holidays like this with a little “helmet time.” I have mentioned “helmet time” here before, but in case you have forgotten, I like to get on the bike and ride somewhere and be alone in my thoughts as I travel down the road and contemplate things.

To celebrate Veterans Day I took a ride to the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans. That way I could take a little helmet time and then immerse myself in what I believe to be one of the most remarkable museums and tributes to veterans anywhere in the world.

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If you have never been to the National WWII Museum you are truly missing an incredible and moving experience. If you have been, a return visit is highly recommended. The Museum is constantly evolving and opening new exhibits and buildings. It is definitely worth a second look.

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Although the National WWII Museum is dedicated to one specific war, it is an appropriate place to consider all that American veterans have done for us since this country was founded. We call WWII veterans America’s Greatest Generation. Indeed they were.

But quite honestly every man and woman who puts on a military uniform and serves our country possesses a high level of greatness as far as I am concerned. That is one of the things that I thought about as I toured the museum.

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It is truly impossible for us to fully compensate American veterans for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make to guarantee our freedom and way of life. There really are no words adequate to fully pay tribute to what these young men and women gave and continue to give for the rest of us.

So thanks to all who have served and continue to serve our country. God Bless each and every one of you.

And to all who read this, plan a trip to New Orleans and spend a day or two at the National WWII Museum. It is one of the very best museums you will ever visit.

Also a special thanks to Eric Patten, the museum’s Communications Director, who spent several hours showing me around. The young man has a great last name, he just spells it wrong.

And be sure and  watch for our feature on the Museum on America on 2 Wheels at the end of December.

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Eric Patten, Communications Director and me at National WWII Museum

See you the road!

T.W. Robinson

SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY

•August 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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It is one of my favorite southern riding destinations. It is also a place where many a great motorcycle journey has begun. Perched on a high bluff on the Mississippi River, Natchez is one of those stately Mississippi cities that defines just what “southern hospitality” is all about.

When I started riding motorcycles again more than a decade ago, it was one of my first road trip destinations and I have gone back again and again since then, so many times that I cannot count them, yet I just can’t seem to get enough of this southern jewel on the Mississippi river.
In addition, many a great motorcycle journey has begun for me in Natchez since it is where one of my favorite roads begins – the Natchez Trace Parkway.
There are lots of great motorcycle destinations throughout the south, but Natchez, Mississippi is one of those rare places that seems to be perfectly suited for rides and riders.

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First let’s talk about the roads and highways. US Highways 61 and 84 intersect at Natchez. Both are incredibly well maintained and marked. They provide beautiful vistas for riding into and out of Natchez. They feature great attractions and sites to visit along the way and in most areas are four lane divided highways.
They are the kind of roads that invite you to put your feet up on the highway pegs and cruise along enjoying the scenery.

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The secondary state highways and county roads surrounding Natchez are also well maintained and marked and of course there is no better motorcycle road than the Natchez Trace Parkway, which travels 440 miles from Natchez to Nashville.

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The Trace is not just a great ride; it has hundreds of historic sites along the way. Just outside Natchez is one of the most unusual of them all – Emerald Mound. Located just north of Natchez at mile post 10.3 Emerald Mound is one of the largest ceremonial mounds created by Native Americans. Constructed by ancestors of the Natchez Indians in the early 13th century the mound is 770 feet long, 435 feet wide and 35 feet high. At the west end there is a 30 foot secondary mound which was once topped by a ceremonial structure.

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After a long day’s ride there is no better place to hang out than under the hill. Natchez Under the Hill, is just what the name implies. It features a number of saloons, restaurants and even a couple of residential properties located under the bluff on which the city sits. It is very popular with bikers and is a great place to meet fellow riders, have a good meal and a drink and watch the sun set across the mighty Mississippi. Oh and if you like a little game of chance, the Isle of Capri Casino is permanently docked right here.

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Speaking of food – uh I was speaking of food, wasn’t I? Well you know how much I like to sample local cuisine and Natchez has some of the best southern dining anywhere. Plus it also has great road food. There are dozens of great restaurants to choose from. A couple of favorites are the Magnolia Grill which is located under the hill just up from the Casino and Fat Mama’s on Canal Street on top of the bluff. Fat Mamas makes some pretty incredible tamales and their “Knock you Naked” Margaritas are world famous – at least in my world they are.
Hey, don’t worry; you won’t lose your clothes drinking them, unless you really want to.

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If you want to truly experience the history and culture of Natchez you will want to visit some of the beautiful old homes and plantations in the area. Many of them are open for tours and some feature bed and breakfast options so you can live a little bit of the “southern life” while in Natchez.

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You won’t want to leave Natchez before spending some time downtown. There are dozens of great shops and boutiques to poke around in, a number of superb restaurants and coffee shops to hang out in and if you like antiquing this is the place to do it.
But perhaps the best things you will find in Natchez are wonderful people. You may arrive in town as a stranger, but you will leave as an old friend. We just spent a long weekend in Natchez filming a segment for America on 2 Wheels. Once again I left with new friends. That is the great thing about this little city on the Mississippi. After a short visit, you will almost feel like you live there.
Come to Natchez. Ride some great roads, enjoy good food and drink and make some new friends. Come see what southern hospitality is all about.
By the way, if you are a Harley rider, you may want to come to the Mississippi State HOG rally in Natchez this September. HOG rallies are always a lot of fun, but when they are held in Natchez, they just seem to be more fun.

See you on the road.

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Tee

CHROME COWGIRL NUMBER TWO

•July 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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I really don’t remember the name of the first person who called me a Chrome Cowgirl. It started back when I got my 1999 Yamaha Road Star and was shopping for accessories. I have always loved fancy stuff. You know bling; fancy earrings, bracelets and such. So when I started making my “Star my own,” as the old Yamaha commercials used to say, my eyes were immediately drawn to chrome. One day I walked into a local dealership wearing lots of bling and my red cowboy hat and someone said, “here comes the chrome cowgirl,” and at that very moment T.W. had yet another nickname.

In 2004 when we started the TV show I met a real cowgirl, one who liked both horses and Harleys. Soon my new riding buddy, Tammi Arender, became Chrome Cowgirl Number Two.

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Tammi Arender is a real country girl too. Raised on a farm along the Mississippi River delta in north Louisiana, near the town of Tallulah; Tammi grew up riding horses, tractors and other farm machinery, helping her father Billy Ray Arender on his cotton and soybean farm. She was also a champion cutting horse rider, so she had a penchant for fancy things too.

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After graduating from college Tammi left the farm to pursue a career as a television anchor, working for TV stations in Little Rock, Nashville, Baton Rouge and Monroe becoming an extremely talented, highly successful and much sought after television journalist.
But even though Tammi left the farm, the farm never left her. In fact today she holds what she likes to call her dream job; anchoring the nightly farm and agricultural news on the Rural Television Network in Nashville.

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When I first met Tammi, I admit I was a little intimidated. Here I was, someone who had never even seen the inside of a TV studio, teaming up with a veteran performer to do a television show. I have always been at home on the seat of a motorcycle, but being in front of a camera made me a just a tad bit nervous. Okay, I was pretty terrified.
Chrome Cowgirl Number Two however made me feel right at home, encouraging me when I needed it and defending me when our sometimes mean and often impatient Executive Producer (I won’t say his name, but it sounds like Bob) would get frustrated with me.
What has always amazed me about Tammi is the depth of her talent. She can take on any assignment and she always gets things on the first take. If we did a blooper reel, Tammi would hardly be on it. I on the other hand could probably star in an endless series of blooper reels.
But don’t ask her to ride in the rain and don’t ask her to work when she is hungry. A particular trip to the Smoky Mountains comes to mind, but that is another story.
Over the years I have shared a lot of road experiences with Tammi. She is a good friend and a great riding partner. Today with her in Nashville and me in Baton Rouge, I don’t get to see her as much as I would like, except when the TV show brings us together. This fall, I hope to plan a few road trips with her — as long as it isn’t raining, that is!

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In 2005, my friends Mickey and Jack Jones, teamed up with Nashville songwriter Byron Hill and penned a song for us. The song “Chrome Cowgirls” has a line in it that says, “God bless Chrome Cowgirls like us.”
Here’s to Chrome Cowgirl Number Two, my riding buddy, Tammi Arender.

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See you on the road!

TW