I’m not generally a big fan of retrospectives: e.g.  “2011, the year in Review.” The year’s done, over, it’s time to get on with your life. And I’ve worked in journalism long enough to know that year-end retrospectives are usually a “prepared in advance” way to fill space (or airtime) at the end of the year when writers/broadcasters are taking a break.

That said, here’s my 2011 Year in Review. Not prepared in advance, mind you. I have no editorial calendar here at Travelin’ Gringo enterprises. Usually the way it works, I think of a post, I write it. Maybe better advance planning should be one of my 2012 resolutions, but I digress.

Near Area 51, Nevada

So as I sat drinking coffee this morning, the last day of 2011, I got to thinking. “Self,” I says to myself, “You’ve taken some relatively cool motorcycle trips this year and gotten some decent photos. It wouldn’t hurt to recycle a few of ‘em by doing a Year-In-Review thing.” My readership — pageviews — has been increasing little by little, which is driven in part by posting, and promoting, more fresh content (it’s also helped by being able to promote this blog at the end of magazine articles I do, and through another blog I recently started writing for — www.nolaVie.com — about life and culture in New Orleans).

So with that wordy setup, here’s The Travelin’ Gringo’s 2011 Year-End Extravaganza:

Seeking "shelter from the storm" in an open barn in LA bayou country

In January, I did “Back to the Bayou” for HOG magazine. I flew into New Orleans (from my home at the time, Orlando), picked up a Harley Electra Glide Ultra Limited, and spent several days riding the back-country and bayous of Louisiana. It was a fun trip, I really liked the bike (its red, two-tone color scheme was stunning and photographed well), and I got to eat lots of good Cajun food, including my first Boudin. One memorable part of the trip was returning to New Orleans from Lake Charles on the last day after a cold front had rolled through: temperature was in the low-20s with wind chills in the teens. I shiver just thinking of it.

Somewhere on the bayou

Sunset over a Louisiana bayou

Nevada

In April, I did “Ghosts of the Open Road; Riding the Loneliest Highways in America” for HOG. I rode through Death Valley, CA, then on a circuit through Nevada that included ghost towns, Highway 50 across the middle of the state (known as the “Loneliest Road in America”), and Area 51, stopping at the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel, NV. I rode a beautiful, blue Road Glide Ultra, which also photographed well. By the time I returned the bike to Harley’s press fleet facility in LA, I’d added about 2,200 miles to its odometer.

 

Little A'Le'Inn near Area 51, Rachel, NV

Death Valley, CA

On the Florida panhandle

May brought a Florida panhandle tour, more specifically to Franklin County (Apalachicola and Carrabelle, what’s known sometimes as the “Forgotten Coast.” I’d been invited on a press trip by Geiger PR, so I rode up from Orlando on my Road King, spent a few days there hosted by Geiger, and wrote an article which will appear in the April 2012 issue of Motorcycle Bagger magazine. What’s memorable about that ride — in addition to the beautiful “Forgotten Coast” — are the plentiful supplies of fresh seafood, particularly oysters, that they fed us. Geiger’s client — Franklin County — wanted to get the message out that Gulf seafood is fresh, safe, and abundant. I think they succeeded.

Baked Apalachicola Bay oysters

Also in May, I flew to Maine, picked up an Electra Glide Limited and rode the state’s entire seacoast. I called the HOG magazine article “Lighthouses, Lobster, and Living to Ride.” Maine is particularly memorable for its lobster rolls and beautiful coastal scenery, I got lots of photos, many of which I was able to use in several Maine blog posts after the article came out.

Boothbay Harbor, ME

A Maine Lobster Roll

June brought a tour of Vancouver, Canada for HOG. The article is to be published sometime mid-2012. I toured the “Coast-Mountain Circle Route” on a Road Glide Ultra, an area that includes the Frasier Valley, and rode part of the country’s 1800s “Gold Rush Trail,” as well as Whistler and other spectacularly scenic areas.

Glacial waters, BC, Canada

British Columbia, Canada

In July, I rode from Orlando to Tennessee and North Carolina on my Road King, riding some of the incredible parkways, skyways, and gaps in those states. The ride included the “Tail of the Dragon,” the Cherohala Skway, and Cumberland Gap, and will also appear in HOG sometime next year.

"Tail of the Dragon" Deals Gap, TN

August was pretty much consumed with moving to New Orleans with my wife for her new job. Moving is never fun, but we love New Orleans and hope to be able to stay awhile (she’s teaching at Tulane as a “Visiting Professor,” on a one-year contract, so the future is kind of up in the air. We’re keeping our fingers crossed).

"Typical" NOLA street scene (LOL)

In November I did a relatively short ride along the Mississippi River here in Louisiana, for a story tentatively titled “Rollin’ on the River” for HOG magazine (I haven’t written it yet, but I’m guessing it’ll run in late summer or fall). I rode the levees and toured some historic sugar plantations, for a look at Mississippi River life as it used to be.

Near the levee, Mississippi River, LA

Venice, LA

Throughout the year, I also had stories in American Iron, RoadBike, and Motorcycle Bagger — most of which I’d written in late 2010, and included rides through the Ocala National Forest and St. Augustine, FL.

Along America's "Loneliest Road," Nevada

That’s pretty much the year in Travelin’ Gringo. I’m starting to plan rides and tours for 2012. I would love any suggestions or feedback; please post in the “Comments” section below or email me at glen@travelingringo.com. One of my goals for ’12 is to write for additional print and online outlets, not all necessarily motorcycle-related, and possibly do some television projects (on-air, rather than behind the camera) as the Travelin’ Gringo. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks to all for your readership and support during 2011. May the New Year bring you health, happiness, and prosperity!

About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer specializing in motorcycle touring and travel. He is a columnist for Harley-Davidson's HOG and American Iron's Motorcycle Bagger, and his travel features appear regularly in those and other publications.

View all posts by Glen Abbott »

15 Comments
  1. Laura

    January 7, 2012

    I tend to like reading year in review posts, and I’m glad you decided to post one. I really enjoyed it, especially all the photos! Heading over to check out nolaVie now. Happy New Year and all the best in 2012! :)
    Laura recently posted..Friday Explorer: Discover Veracruz Tours

    • Travelin' Gringo

      January 8, 2012

      Thanks Laura, I don’t think I realized how much ground I covered in ’11 until I put it all down in one place! Keep up the good work with Go Mexico Guide, I really enjoy it. Happy 2012!

  2. still a year filled with great adventures! hope your 2012 would have more road trips :)
    Gladys | ByahengBarok.com recently posted..Life’s Different Journeys

  3. Cindy

    January 2, 2012

    Wow looking at you photos you might have had a very pleasant year! Totally fantastic shots, absolutely awesome! i wish you a happy new year!
    Cindy recently posted..Dental implants – some information

  4. I love retrospectives, both writing and reading them. For me it’s a fun mental exercise – sometimes you don’t realize how much you’ve actually accomplished until you actually write it all out. It looks like you made it to some amazing places. I can’t imagine biking in the 20s!
    Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted..Left out of the South Beach nightlife

    • Travelin' Gringo

      January 4, 2012

      It’s really true; I didn’t realize how much I’d done until I wrote it all down. Happy 2012!

  5. Christy & Scott

    January 2, 2012

    I hear ya about the year in reviews. I wasn’t even going to do one this year, but once I started thinking about all the stuff we did, I thought it might be kind of nice to have it all in one place to look back on. It looks like you had a great year! All the best in 2012!
    Christy & Scott recently posted..Last Minute Changes Are Not Appreciated – Morro Negrito Surf Camp

  6. inka

    January 1, 2012

    I generally agree. retrospects are ‘fillers’ and, tha past is the past. Having said that yours was very worth doing. Brilliant trips, great pictures, enticing stories, I loved the ‘retro’. Looking forward to reading more of the same during the year to come, but then you already know: I never miss a post of yours. Cheers.
    inka recently posted..Miami’s Mary Brickell Village

    • Travelin' Gringo

      January 1, 2012

      Thanks Inka, I appreciate your comments! Wish you a happy new year, and hope to meet you personally in 2012.

  7. Ken

    December 31, 2011

    Kudos again Glen. Very cool photos and observations. The bonus for me is it brings to mind stories we worked on in most of these places. I can still taste the sausage and dirty rice from Kenner, LA, and will not soon forget the one-armed lobsterman from Maine. Good times.

    • Travelin' Gringo

      December 31, 2011

      Hey Ken, thanks. It’s true, we worked on stories in many of these places, didn’t we? Death Valley, New Orleans, Maine… definitely good times (and uh, yeah, what happens on the road stays on the road, right? LOL). I’d almost forgotten about that one-armed lobsterman; it’s a good thing we didn’t get seasick when he took us out on his boat — those were some rough seas. Best wishes for a happy, safe, and prosperous New Year to you and your family.

  8. Grace

    December 31, 2011

    Wow Glen, looks like it was a productive year for you! Lots of great road trips on your bike and articles for HOG. Plus not to mention a move to NOLA. Here’s to a great 2012 for you and your family!
    Grace recently posted..Escape the Canary Island Crowds

    • Travelin' Gringo

      December 31, 2011

      Thanks Grace, and let’s not forget that I got to meet “Pinay on the Move” in 2011! Thanks for your support, and wishing you the best for 2012.

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