Face Full of America – Grand Finale

New Orleans Jazz Fest w Foo Fighters

The “Face Full of America” Tour, my (over) 30 day Easy Rider experience, riding my Harley along the I-10 from sea to shining sea, comes to it’s second conclusion this weekend. The first was to culminate in the celebration of my pop’s 80th b-day (POP 80) on April 30, 2012, which doubled as a family reunion. I’ve been living on the west coast for the past god-knows-how-long, and the rest of the family scattered back east, so it was good for us to get together.

nick sharpe on his harley davidson motorcycle in front of marker  that reads 6350 feet elevation

To the toppermost – highest point of the Blue Ridge Skyway

Somehow, the FFA tour gets extended, like this week’s North Carolina adventure. Asheville, N.C. is a relatively short putt from Atlanta thru the foothills of the Appalachians (aka North Georgia mountains). On the way, I took a ride on the Blue Ridge Skyway, a road I haven’t been on since we were kids on a family vacation. Turns out I had some old friends in the area and managed to locate David Dietrich, and ol’ school chum, living in what could only be described as a “Floridian’s Dream”, in the mountain and meadow country some 50 miles south of downtown Asheville.

Downtown Asheville turns out to be an oasis of artsy, modern liberalism surrounded by the community of those who “cling to their guns and religion”. It had bits of the Haight, Telegraph Road and Melrose, a sort-of mini Austin, with shops and restaurants that cater to the young and trendy with a hippie vibe ( I know… I couldn’t figure it out either!).

Bottom line – hot babes, cool town. Go.

The Grand Finale

First off, a big thanks to my old friends and family who helped make this ride possible – Val and Jane in Tuscon, Mike Knox in Miami, my cousins in central Florida and my family in Atlanta for lettin me crash at their pads, saving on motel bills and extending the adventure time!

backstage withe Rami Jaffee playin keys with Dave Grohl and the FooFighters at Jazz Fest May 6 2012

Rami Jaffee playin keys with Dave Grohl and the FooFighters backstage at Jazz Fest May 6 2012

Now we come full circle – thanks to fellow musician and Harley ridin bud in Malibu, Rami Jaffee, for letting me crash at his place the day before takeoff. Now at the end (?) of this adventure, I’ll meet up with him at the New Orleans Jazz Fest for his show with the Foo Fighters (yeah, I know… “Jazz”?) This will indeed be a grand finale to a fantastic experience that I could only touch on briefly in this blog. Sometimes I wish I could download my thoughts as I saw, felt and smelt the wonders of roads less traveled. Like I tell everybody, I dont have “plans”, I have “targets”. And they do move!

The fork is still in the road.
Or South Florida on the beach somewhere????

Let’s see what happens next!

ps go to homepage to register for email updates


Fork In The Road

FFA POP80 – Extension

Happy 8-oh! to my dad 04/30/12
Face Full of America Tour: the story so far –

After luxuriating in the warm waters of Miami and the keys, I took off Friday 4/20 morning up 27 with memories of scary 2 lane and insane 18 wheelers passing ma ‘n’ pa Kettle in the pouring rain. I regret to report that kind of excitement has been replaced with interstate width 4 lane, and hardly any traffic from just outside Miami all the way to Okeechobee.
The excitement came when I got to “thunder alley” in central Fla approaching Ocala. I have really good rain gear, but no lightning suit, so I had to park at one of my branch offices, a Denny’s w free wifi.

Florida thunder storm

I have rain gear but no lightning gear

The rain came down so hard you could barely see out the window!
I made it to Ocala safe and sound to my cousin Kathy’s lovely home (built by her husband Bobby Picard, another Bird Road Baby Boomer) by early evening and was greeted by long lost cousins and their beautiful kids (all girls. the pendulum has really swung!). Thanks to Kathy and Bobby and cousin Jim for letting me crash a few days.That gave me time to experience what this trip was all about – to reconnect with friends and family I grew up with but haven’t seen in decades!
I got to see all the sights and for me that was the Garlit’s Drag Racing Museum and the All Harley drags at Gainesville, home of NHRA Winter Nationals, with my cousin Jimmy. A big surprise was my cousin Eric’s collection of iron head sporty parts, enough to build 10 vintage Sportsters! If you knew about my blue sporty chopper, then you can imagine how I felt, being in a virtual Harley Davidson Sportster museum! Aside from restoring vintage Harley Davidson Sportsters, Eric is also an underwater cartographer, an extension of his extreme diving in the underwater caves of Florida, the Gulf, the Caribbean and more.

Rode about 400 miles to my mom and dad’s house in Atlanta on the following Wednesday, then found a Microtel in Woodstock, Ga. where I could rest up and get some web design work done. Georgia is very woodsy in a way that hides the population density of the Atlanta suburbs (and exurbs!).

decouto family all seven- Jean, Tony, Mark, Matthew, John, David Luke and Lisa

The DeCouto family Apr 28 2012 from left - Me (aka Mark), Matthew, Lisa, Dad (Tony), Mom (Jean), John and David Luke

Last Saturday 4/28, the whole fam damily got together for dad’s 80th birthday. It was a great lil family reunion with all my younger brothers and sis (the youngest)  in one spot.

Now, Tuesday May 1, 2012, with the “Face Full of America” tour #2 officially complete, I find myself at  a Days Inn somewhere between Asheville and Hickory in North Carolina. I just had to take a blast through the Appalachian foothills of North Georgia to the Blue Ridge Skyway in the Smokey Mountains while I’m here in the eastern US. It’s like the East’s Crest ride, only greener. A lot greener! (my allergies are really going off)

nick on harley at peak of Blue Ridge Parkway elevation 6300 feet

to the toppermost

Now I see why they call it Blue Ridge – the green mountains of the east look blue in the distance, whereas the rocky mountains of the west have purple majesty. The views are still breathtaking nonetheless, and I wish I had pro photo gear to shoot pics that would more accurately convey what I am seeing (better than the iPhone 3 GS). The east is beautiful, but the west is awesome!

Like Yogi Beara sez, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it!”

I am on I-40 at the end of this little extension of my FFA tour – do I go south and find my affordable Florida beach shack? Or go west on the I-40 back to LA?

There’s the attraction of cool, dry air in the mountains of California, but damn, I so miss the bathwater warm ocean beach…

to be continued…


p.s. to get email notices for this blog when I post, go to the home page and sign up.