Winter Paradise

How Becky Brown escapes winter

Story and photos by Becky Brown

There are three things that I really do hate. Slow people in the fast lane, spicy food, and winter! I can usually maneuver around the slow drivers and refuse to eat the poisonous dishes but it is really hard to avoid winter in Ohio. I raised my daughter here in Ohio, and now she and my grandsons live quite near me, so it just wouldn’t be right for me to bail out on them and move south.

People who live in southern states where winters are rideable and reasonable say they know how miserable winter can be, but I doubt they really do. So, I travel as much as I can in the dark months and the direction is always south. I did manage to hit seven countries this past winter that sit somewhere between Key West and the equator. Some of the third world countries leave me with little desire to explore on two wheels by myself. But a few I would and one I did: Aruba. It was my first trip there and all I was told by my friends who had been there was to expect Arizona with a beach. Advantages were that they accept US Dollars everywhere and the daily weather is perfect. The only real negatives were high prices and high winds.

Once I arrived and got situated, Lucienne picked me up. The ride to the shop gave me plenty of time to ask questions. I learned that she must be one of the busiest women on the island. She not only plays taxi driver, bookkeeper and scheduler for the business she and her husband own but she also works as a server at a friend’s restaurant, plays on a beach volleyball team and is raising two daughters. Being fluent in five languages must come in handy owning a business where such a large percentage of the customers crawl off cruise ships.

Aruba Motorcycle Rentals & Tours had six bikes on hand, from a Sportster to Road Kings. My choice was the Heritage Softail and it ran as well as the one I have at home and sounded even better. I also chose the guided tour so I could see as much of the island as possible and get to know other riders. I was originally told I would be riding with a couple from Germany but they had changed their plans. My guide was Al and he has the perfect job riding the island everyday with his chrome spiked helmet. He leads people from one end of the island to the other with a smile on his face. I was very impressed with Al and soon realized how much of a serious rider he actually is. How else could you rack up over 55,000 miles on a bike living on an island that is only twenty miles long by six miles wide?

I’m sure that some of the places Al took me are on the tourism list of don’t miss destinations and I’m also sure some are not. Our first stop was Alto Vista Chapel which was originally built on the same spot in 1750. It is a very quaint chapel with stone benches on the outside surrounded by both Kadushi and Yatu cactus. California Light House was the busiest of all the stops with a restaurant and food trucks lined along the parking lot. Luckily we stopped on the shady side of an abandoned water tower with colorful graffiti and awesome views. We spent a bit of time climbing over Casibari Rock during the hottest part of the day and I correctly expected it to be a miniature version of Ayers Rock from Australia. Last stop was my favorite, Baby Beach.   On our way there we passed the rugged east side of the island with high surf and a barren rocky coastline. We briefly stopped at a park on the very southern tip of the island where on a clear day you can spot the coast of Venezuela just 9 miles to the south.

I was in Aruba another 6 days after I did the motorcycle tour and many times I heard the rumbling of an approaching Harley. But on at least two of those occasions it was Al cruising by in his chrome spiked helmet racking up even more island miles!