After sleeping in much longer than usual, which was quite nice, we got ourselves sorted out, stuffed the rain gear into the bike’s saddlebags and crossed our fingers that the rain would hold off until the afternoon as we headed over to the main Thunder Beach venue at Frank Brown Park.
We figured we’d do best to visit before any more rain fell since the entire venue is set up on a grass field! I was pleasantly surprised at how well drained the turf was in most places, so no worries about the jiffy stand sinking into the mud! Normally Frank Brown is all a-buzz with the sound of motocross bikes, but this year the organizers replaced them with group of female aerial gymnasts called Circus Uno. Although we didn’t get to see the show because of the weather it looks like it would have been interesting just based on the press photos.
Despite the overcast skies and light mist, the place was pretty packed, almost on par with what we’ve seen in previous years on sunny days. However, the number of vendors was definitely down, almost along the lines of this past fall’s rally. After checking things out about the only thing that really captured our attention were the travel trailers & motor coaches. After touring the various models on display — both new and used — we decided we’d the go for a lightly used 5th wheel unit with a toy box vs something like a motor coach but would definitely rent one for a trip before buying.
After about an hour at the park we headed back to Sharky’s for a second helping of those wonderful fish tacos and the lovely view of the gulf. The sky was still filled with clouds instead of sun and it was misting again. No big deal; we just put up the umbrella on our table and continued to enjoy our lunch. Oh yeah, and since it was Red Shirt Friday, I obliged and saluted our troops with my red Earl Small t-shirt.
Just looking at the weather radar we could see the rest of the afternoon was going to be a wet one so we packed it back in at the condo for some more “us time”, which was really quite nice. I was able to peck out my first entry capturing Thursday’s trip down and also do a short piece on tire size to add some tandem content to my blog; after all.. it is the TandemGeek’s blog not the BikerGeek’s blog. While surfing around on the web I was also able to scope out some places for dinner and set up reservations for 6:30 pm at the Saltwater Grill. This would get us in and out so we could go and stake out a table over Pineapple Willy’s around 7:30 so we’d have a place to sit for Jacob & Brock at 9:00pm.
Before heading to dinner we decided to pay yet another visit to Sharky’s for cocktail hour and some smoked tuna dip; yum! I’d have to say that Sharky’s has become our favorite beachfront place to just sit and enjoy the bar or for lunch, thanks to those awesome fish tacos.
It was of course still drizzling when we headed out so I threw on the quick release windscreen and we also donned our full face helmets for the night. The wind in your hair is always nice, but not the rain…. at least when it’s also somewhat cool. Franky, I’d rather be comfortable and be warm instead of looking cool and being uncomfortable so I know I’m getting old! Guess it’s time for a geezer-glide?! Just kidding: perhaps a Road King FLHR with a removable fairing, but not an Ultra… at least not just yet!
The dinner at Saltwater Grill was OK, not great so I’m not sure there’s always a huge difference in going upscale vs. sticking to the “joints” along Front Beach & Thomas Blvd for dinner, that is so long as you stick to fish or salads. However, our timing for Pineapple Willy’s was impeccable, as Debbie scored a front-row table along the dance floor.
Although Terry Brock wasn’t there, the guy filling in for him did just fine and Kevin Jacobs was killing-it all night long. I don’t know how this guy belts out that kind of music night after night without tearing up his vocal chords. Their regular keyboard player was also on his game and they had a new base player and drummer who were exceptional! We met a couple of nice guys from Rome, Georgia who kept us entertained and had a great time dancing the night away with what was a really fun and well-behaved crowd. We stayed until they finished their second set around midnight and then packed it in for the condo.
It had stopped raining, but it was really windy and cool when we rolled-out of the parking lot. As we motored by Coyote Ugly we could see that it was definitely the happening place with people lined up out the door waiting to get in. Not sure if we’ll make in there this trip or not. We know where we’ll be on Saturday… back at Willy’s to be sure!! Might need to get there a bit earlier to get those good seats though!
As on Friday, we slept in Saturday morning which is just not something I ever do at home. We also woke to clear signs the weather was going to improve by the afternoon. Now, if only the temps would rise out of the low 60’s! Yes, it felt quite chilly when we rode down to Pier Park to check out the custom bike show around 11:30 am. But, there was no drizzle and we could see clear skies out over the gulf.
The bikes at the show were a mixed bag of the unridable show bikes, over-the-top paint, anodizing and silly-sized wheel machines with a couple of really nice old bikes and some other “why is this bike here” machines thrown in. Frankly, as we walked up and down the Pier Park sidewalks to get in some exercise the bikes that lined the street were in many respects far more interesting than most of the bikes that were being judged for the contest; really. Of course, there were also some WTF bikes out there as well.
After leaving Pier Park We checked a few more of the various vendor areas and interestingly enough, realized there really isn’t anything we need that we don’t already have and very little being offered at these places that’s all that great. 99% of the stuff being sold is really poor quality junk that comes in from off-shore and gets marked up 3x – 10x what it cost from the source. Well, aside from the really expensive, high-end bike parts and accessories and the guys doing seat upholstery that is.
Our afternoon entertainment would combine the Ms. Thunder Beach contest with lunch at Hammerhead Fred’s. As we rode east along Front Beach Road you could tell Thunder Beach was revving up to full throttle as the entire west bound road was bottlenecked all the way from our condo at Alf Coleman to Pier Park. Fortunately, it was smooth cruising going east!!
At first I didn’t quite understand why they would have moved the Ms TB show to Fred’s, as the last time they did one of the Miss TB prelims it was set up in a tent. Much to my surprise, as we rode up it became immediately apparently that Fred’s had built a rather massive pavilion where the parking lot used to be and then convinced the Thunder Beach organizers to move their event and some vendors to their new site. Frankly, I’m not sure if the organizers did themselves any favors but Fred’s was certainly doing better for it: the place was packed and drinks were flowing.
It didn’t hurt that the sun had finally come out as the clouds cleared and blue skies ruled the day. We split a massive Yellowfin Tuna sandwich and it was absolutely delicious, as well as the right size. Neither one of us can really eat a large entrée anymore which is probably a good thing!
Our next stop was back to our condo so Debbie could get some sun and then to get ready for dinner. Yes, that meant we had to head west; yikes! Fortunately, I was pretty sure Middle Beach Road would be a better choice so it was a 5 minute trip back “home” via Alf Coleman, with a quick left and right into Sterling Reef. That trip would have taken 40 minutes if we’d have tried to go via Front Beach Road as the once quiet streets were still jammed with loudly rev’ing v-twins, screaming in-line 4’s and the really obnoxious V8’s that have found their way onto motorcycles. It’s a beautiful thing when Bike Week is graced with nice weather!
After some more us time and watching the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby we rode the 1/2 a mile to Bonefish Grill for dinner: best meal of the trip! We will definitely be going back to Bonefish Grill at either PCB or one of their many other locations. Debbie had some really nice blackened salmon and I had fresh, ocean tuna with some out of this world green beans.
As something of a repeat from Friday night, we headed over to Pineapple Willy’s after dinner so we’d be sure to get some descent seats for the Jacob & Brock gig at 9:00pm. The crowd we found at Willy’s was quite a bit different from Friday and to be honest, the band was actually a lot more enjoyable to dance to on Friday with the guitarist/vocalist filling in for Terry Brock. That was due in part to the audience as well as having Kevin Jacobs free to work from his own playlist for the night. On Saturday, Terry did about half of the songs and they also had a couple of locals “sitting-in” for vocals as well as a former horn player from Breakers who was really excellent. So, what we ended up with was some really great music, just not the best dance music. We had a great time, but it just didn’t reach the bar we’d set the night before.
We stopped in at Coyote Ugly on the way back to our condo to see if there was any magic in the air. Nope. The place was packed, but there just wasn’t much of a vibe so we left shortly after we arrived.
Amazingly enough, the capstone of our evening was an early morning meal at Waffle House. I had hash browns “all the way” and Debbie had a waffle: it hit the spot! I think the last time Debbie and I visited a Waffle House was back in 1991; really. It’d been that long. But, it was a nice way to end our visit to PCB!
It’s been a long time since we’ve spent a weekend on our own and it was kinda nice. We missed having our friends David & Deb around, but improvised and found new ways to enjoy our time together, including several hours spent doing nothing but relaxing with each other!