Heading out to the
Region A 2010 Convention
Eufaula, Alabama
(Please click on the blue text for additional pictures or video)

     This year some of our members decided to take a round about way to join our friends at the Region A Convention in Eufaula, Alabama. Our ride turned out to be a 1400 mile excursion along the Gulf of Mexico and then up into Alabama and the conventon site.

     September in Florida is still hot and early morning start times are a must.  So, a 6 AM start from Clearwater to Cedar Key was decided on. The ride was cool and the normally heavy traffic was non-existent. It took about 3 hours, which included a necessary break and a fuel stop, to reach our destination. Upon arriving we found that the motel office wasn't yet open, so we waited under a shelter, which overlooked the shoreline and gave us a pretty view of the Gulf of Mexico.  A cool breeze kept the insects away and an occasional hint of grilled seafood enticed our curiosity of what the town had to offer.


      The motel was right out of the 1950's.  It was clean but definitely had some unique "features" that were common to that era. We unloaded our baggage and walked down to some of the shops that were built on stilts over the water. There were quite a few restaurants that offered many types of seafood dishes. Our dinner that evening was at one of these restaurants and the seafood was very good.  Unfortunately we found that many of the shops were closed due to present economic conditions. It seems that many of the remaining shops are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and having arrived on Wednesday we were not able to browse the shops in order to see what they had to offer.

     Our next days ride took us along the Gulf of Mexico beaches and through the quaint small fishing villages that are prevalent along "Big Bend" area of the Florida coastline. Our lunch stop was at one of the BBQ diners along our route.  There was ample southern style cooking to meet our lunchtime needs. By early afternoon when we reached Apalachicola and headed out over a five mile bridge that linked Apalachicola with St. George Island and our destination for that day. After unpacking we enjoyed a refreshing dip in the swimming pool which overlooked the boardwalk that lead out to the beach.  As the sun was getting closer to the horizon we ventured along the narrow strip of this island and entered St. George Island State Park. It is a beautiful five mile stretch of land that has been kept in it's natural state with large sand dunes, beautiful beaches along its entire length and many of the plants common to that area. After a enjoyable day of traveling we headed to a nearby restaurant and enjoyed another delicious meal prepared from the local seafood.

     Again with an early wakeup we headed back over the bridge to the mainland and then along the coast to Milton, Florida where we would spend our next few days.  Our route took us though more of the gulf coast towns that were typical of the previous days experiences. Up until we reach the area of Panama City most of our riding was at reasonable cruising speeds, but from from Panama City to Destin the traffic was mostly stop and go which made for pretty uncomfortable riding. Reaching the motel in Milton we unloaded our bags and headed for the swimming pool, which was relaxing but somewhat on the chilly side.  We found that most of the suggested restaurants where within a twenty minute ride from the motel and offered a good selection of foods.   On Saturday morning we headed to Chapter FL1-Q, in Milton for their Zippity Do Dah fun day. This event was set up to help pay for local WWII veterans trip to Washington D.C. for a WWII veterans memorial gathering. The Chapter offered lots of entertaining activities and a ride though the rural countryside.  Also present was the Freedom truck, which had many murals on it honoring American Combat Veterans and responders to the attack of 9/11                                                       


    On Sunday five of our chapter members headed out to the Pensacola Naval Air Station museum, which was about an hours ride from our motel. Simply put, WOW what a facility. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words so check out the pictures that are linked here.  We also was very lucky to have a volunteer who narrated the tram tour latch onto us and gave us a wealth of information.  He was a retire WWII pilot who had flown many of the aircraft that were on display and so was able to give us lots of information about them. Believe it or not he still has a current pilots license.

      On Monday we were joined by Darla Williams and Dennis Turcotte,  the Florida District Couple of the Year. Today's ride would be  from Milton to Marianna, Florida, where we would tour the Florida Caverns.  Our ride was enjoyable as we passed through the Apalachicola Forest. Unlike central Florida, the roads were hilly and had interesting curves. Darla and Dennis, who live in Key West, Florida seemed to enjoy these roads, which are quite different than the single highway that spans the Florida Keys. Shortly after lunch we pulled into the motel that we had selected to spend the night.  Fortunately, we mentioned to the clerk that we were going to visit the Florida Caverns the following day.  Oops, "I don't think so" she said, the caverns were closed on Tuesday. A quick change of plans and we hopped on our bikes and headed out to the Caverns, which was about a ten minute ride.  A nominal fee was require to enter the park and the caverns, which included the tour that we took.  The park ranger did and excellent narration of the history and sights that we viewed during our tour.  Mother nature was great too - the caverns were a constant 65 degrees - a nice relief from the 90+ degrees above.

      Whereas we had to change our planned itinerary, we decide that we would head out to Eufaula and arrive a day early at the convention site. The ride to Eufaula was only a few hours and after a brief stop for lunch and we rolled into the Lakepoint Resort State Park.  The Region A district staff had told us that it was going to be very nice location and they weren't kidding. The lodge and nearby housing was terrific. Our rooms were very spacious and still smelled like they were built yesterday. The lodge had all the necessary room for such an event as well as a very nice staff who readily met our needs.


   Having settled in one day early we decided to head out to check out the areas local roadways and attractions. Fortunately we bumped into Jim Jackson of the Region staff, who is familiar with this area of Alabama and had set up two poker runs for this area. The Whiskey Bottle Tombstone Poker run and the Little Grand Canyon of Alabama Poker run . He was gracious enough to give us a detailed route for one of the two runs . We had heard of the "Little Grand Canyon of Alabama" which was one of the runs, so with the information he gave us we headed off to "explore" this novel formation, which is actually called Providence Canyon. The roads were enjoyable to ride and offered lots of hills, curves and great scenery. There must be something in this area about closing attractions during the early part of the week, because when we arrived we found the park closed.  Actually there wasn't any rangers available for tours and information but the park itself was open for viewing and the parking was free for the day. A few of us started down the trail which led to the base of the canyon, but what goes down must come up and we figured that maybe that wasn't the greatest idea,  so we reversed course and joined our friends back at the top.  The park is located on one of the higher hills in the area, so despite the temperature finding it's way to above 90 degrees, a breeze helped keep us cool. By the time we started back to Eufaula, the clock was hovering around lunch time and there on the map was a BBQ place. No way would we pass up such a chance to check out the local quezine .  The restaurant was an old home with a wrap around porch where the tables, chairs, a smoker were located. It was located on the corner of two main roads running through Lumpkin, Georgia.

     After having fed ourselves we headed back to the Lodge and the swimming pool to cool down and relax. Tomorrow the convention would start and we had offered to run the rally games for a few hours around noon time.
     We manned our gaming positions the next day, which gave us a chance to meet other GWRRA members from many parts of the southeast and beyond, this   made the convention more enjoyable. Besides the games there were LOTs of fun, educational and enjoyable things to do.  Poker runs, venders, bike training courses, bike competitions and  competition for Region A Couple of the Year, Best Dress Chapter and Couples were just of a few of the activities that were held. Everyone had fun with the entertaining that was done during the talent show and there were lots of laughs when the PJ party started.
games3  games4 lite

There certainly wasn't any excuse not to have a good time.  Oh, there also was a lighted bike parade Friday evening . The  lighted bike parade started from the rally complex then to downtown Eufaula and return. It was escorted by the Eufaula Police Department.  In all there were 54 well lighted bikes that participated.
     Bob and Nancy Shrader and the entire Region A Staff  deserve our thanks for the efforts and time that they put into making this convention such a success. In attendance where 657 members, some of which attended educational seminars or just plain enjoyed the fun that the event offered.
    This is what GWRRA is about ! 
Click here for hundreds of images taken at the convention.

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