Ralph Couey

Ralph Couey
Photo by Darryl Cannon, Powerhead Productions

About Me

My photo

Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Favorite Rides: Virginia Byways

Copyright © 2013 by Ralph F. Couey

Virginia Byways
US50, Snickersville Turnpike,
VA7, Blue Ridge Mtn. Rd., US17,
VA55, Middleburg. 
70 miles

Virginia encases a lot of history, from the first settlements, The Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, and on into the modern era.  While many sites are well-known and well-marked, others require sojourns off the main routes onto those quaint country lanes that existed, some as Indian trails, for hundreds of years.
 
West of the busy ‘burbs of Fairfax and Chantilly is an enjoyable loop that has become one of my favorites, and only partly because it’s so close to home. 



 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Heading west on US 50, the transition from city to country overtakes you.  Before you realize it, the forest of newly-built homes and townhouses recedes in the rear view to be replaced by rolling hills, bucolic countryside, and the vast picturesque horse farms that have earned this part of Virginia the descriptor “Hunt Country.”  The first checkpoint is the town of Aldie.  
 

Favorite Rides: Der Weinstrasse

Copyright © 2013 by Ralph F. Couey

The Weinstrasse
Jefferson City, MO – St. Charles, MO
140 miles, mainly US 50, Routes 100 and 94



 










When the words “Missouri Wine Country” are spoken, most people react with a blank stare, and if they’re from Napa, California, outright derision.  But as John Adams once remarked, “Facts are stubborn things.”  And the facts are these.  
 
German settlers arrived in the area around 1801.  The soil was rich, but the abundant hills in the area made agriculture difficult, but proved to ideal for viticulture.  The first commercial grapes were grown prior to 1850.  Napa got its start about 10 years later.  Up till Prohibition, Missouri was actually the second largest wine producer in the United States.  When the 21st Amendment was ratified, the vintner industry throughout the U.S. was pretty much destroyed.  It wasn’t until the 1960s that the industry began to rebuild itself.
 
The Federal Government, recognizing the rebirth and vibrancy of American vintners, in 1983 began to establish American Viticultural Areas.  The first one was in Missouri, not California.
 
Start this trek in Missouri’s capital city, Jefferson City, the only American capitol city not on an interstate highway.  Head east on US 50 for just under 15 miles to the town of Loose Creek.  There you take a left on County Route A. 



Monday, June 17, 2013

Favorite Rides: Arizona Mountains and Canyons

Copyright © 2013 by Ralph F. Couey
 
Arizona Mountains and Canyons
Route 89/89A
Start: Congress, AZ
End: Flagstaff, AZ
Miles: 130


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
People who think of Arizona as being the exclusive home to sandy desert are woefully uninformed.  This route, first ridden by me on a 5000-mile sojourn through the Southwest, starts in the desert northwest of Phoenix.  The first challenge is a collection of twisties known locally as the Yarnell Hill.  Unfortunately, riders aren’t the only ones who know about this.  Law enforcement, undoubtedly drawn by the high number of motorcycle accidents, patrol this stretch heavily.  It’s still twisty enough, however, to have fun at the legal limit.  The road flattens and straightens until just past Wilhoit.  You begin to ascend, bending and twisting as you go.  Things get interesting as you cross Copper Creek.  The turns get tighter as you get into the mountains.  Then things ease off as you coast into Prescott (pronounced “Prescutt”).  Continuing north, you take Route 89A as it splits off towards the east.  After a few miles of flat desert, you begin to ascend again towards Jerome.  The road, following the mountains, begins to twist and coil again.  This gets a bit hairy, since there are places where guardrails should be, but aren’t. Shoulders are narrow, if they exist at all, and prone to patches of gravel and chunks of rock.