Ride Blog

  • Jim Clarahan

Updated: Mar 2

Jacksonville to Marco Island via Miami Beach and several RSM office stops in between

The Sunshine State gave a warm embrace with my first stop in Jacksonville for a few pics with my friend and colleague Karin Brand. Thankfully we made time for a thorough catch-up the day before in Sea Island as I was reckoning to get as far south as possible to make the next day's ride into Miami a bit more manageable. Navigating traffic in southeast Florida from north of Ft Lauderdale to Miami is a not high on my list of "let's do that again." The clockwise route thru Florida took me along the Atlantic coast with overnight stays in Cocoa Beach and Miami Beach. Selfies at RSM's Melbourne & West Palm offices and photo ops in Ft Lauderdale and Miami offices with Tansy Jefferies and John Archer, respectively, made those stops extra special - thank you, Tansy & John!

Nothing is more exhilarating to me than a barefoot walk on the beach with the first light of day peering over the horizon. The SpaceX launch pad (visible a few miles north of my Cocoa Beach hotel), the rising sun in Miami Beach and the sultry hot conditions (>100f and equally humid) along a treacherous road thru the Everglades' Grand Cypress National Park made the first half of my Florida adventure like none other. Unfortunately I missed the SpaceX launch by a day - unchecked bucket list item. And I was disappointedly shutout from a live gator, anaconda or panther sighting in the wild during my ride thru Everglades - one of the most challenging 15 miles I've ever ridden. The crusty, large stone gravel with thousands of moon crater potholes reduced my speed to 5 - 10 MPH, not a simple feat on an 800lb steel horse.

Labor Day Weekend Fun & Relaxation in St Pete Beach!!!

Another obligatory stop at RSM's Naples office was a simple task to complete as I headed north to St Pete Beach. And after the Everglades ride, my arrival into SPB couldn't come soon enough. College fraternity brother and life-time best of friends, Bill King & his lovely wife Roberta, graciously hosted my weekend stay at their condo at Envoy Point - a beautiful spot overlooking the gulf coast.

Jim gave us special tour of RSM's St Petersburg office with magnificent views of the Bay, the sports complex and the top of the Dali museum in sight. Terie, a retired nurse, arranged a special photo op with her friend and colleague, Maria Shumake, a pediatric neuro-oncology nurse outside of St Petersburg's Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

Jim & Terie Newman, relatively new to RSM (Jim is managing partner of RSM's new St Petersburg office which merged with RSM about a year ago), were spectacular dinner hosts. Ironically the Newman's home is a mile east from the King's condo on the same street, on the intercoastal waterway. Terie's culinary skills are at the top of the charts - could easily compete with whoever is the Iron Chef. And the Newman's wine cellar did not disappoint. And as exquisite as the cuisine and wine was, the funniest episode of the evening was the visit from a little possum as we enjoyed after dinner conversation in their backyard patio. Posing a la American Gothic style, Jim & Terie's possum was was equal to the

Why did I wash the bike?

Whoever "they" are, got it right when they said 'if you don't want it to rain, then do not wash your bike (or car or whatever)'. The bike was crusted badly from the Everglades ride and was in severe need of a wash. And what started as a beautiful Florida sunshine morning, turned into a popup monsoon later in the day.

The Day the Music Died

Wheels up, onward to Orlando and then north, was the plan for the day after Labor Day. The biggest disappointment of the entire 60-day trip happened within 5 minutes of leaving the King's condo. The amplifier that powers my bike's sound system blew out. Oh no, many miles ahead, with no tunes to keep me company. It wouldn't be fixed until 10 days and 2000 miles later in Edmond, OK, ugh! "Bye bye, Miss American Pie ..."

Somehow I successfully navigated a series of popup storms between Tampa and Orlando, and then my luck ran out when I arrived in Orlando. I couldn't say goodbye to SPB without a quick stop at Ted Peters Smoked Fish House - not only does Ted have awesome smoked fish, they have one of the best cheeseburgers in the world - yum. Danny Jackson met me at RSM's makeshift Tampa office. The new office is under construction - another COVID delay. It is ideally located next door to the new Florida Aquarium facility, which will undoubtedly make it a highly desired destination.

Orlando Magic

Mary Edwards, Katrina Rote and Sherri Lava comprised the Orlando office welcoming party to the new downtown office digs. Somehow I had missed the office relocation message, as the hotel I stayed at was next to the old office about 3 miles away. The office relo occurred just as COVID hit, so not too many local RSM employees have seen it since our nationwide office closing in mid-March. It is a beautifully appointed office, and should be a fun and exciting environment to work from when the office opens up. I made a stop at Arnie & Winnie Palmer's Children's Hospital and Hospital for Women and Babies and then a quick buzz by the the Magic Kingdom to wave at Mickey Mouse & friends before speeding north to Tallahassee.

Tally Ho

Orlando to Tallahassee is a fairly straight forward 325 mile ride along a part of Florida that gets very little attention. My scheduled visit with good friend Winston Howell did not allow for extra side route rides. I will definitely explore this part of Florida on a future trip. Unfortunately the Tally H-D shop did not have a spare amplifier needed to fix my sound system. However, they searched H-D's nationwide database and found what I needed at the Mobile Bay H-D, appointment scheduled for the next Monday (not knowing that Sally would be taking direct aim), I was all set. I eagerly took Winston's advice to ride the Forgotten Coast Highway as I made my way west toward Orange Beach AL.

Tally's Canopy Trail

Before leaving Tallahassee I heeded the advice of the hotel staff to ride the "Canopy Trail", just northeast of town. What a treat! It was like riding back in time - 50 years or more. Dead-ending at Reeves Fish Camp on Lake Miccosukee, then the perfect goodbye-to-Tally stop at Bradley's Country Store, famous for its homemade sausage, and a front porch lunch.

Sally the Flora-Bama Slammer

Very excited that the Mobile H-D would be fixing my sound system Monday morning, I made a beeline (via FL's Forgotten Coastline) to Orange Beach AL. It had been a number of years since I took the kids here for Spring Break, but I recalled several fun times at the famous and infamous Flora-Bama. Plus my friends in New Orleans were not able to meet me until Tuesday, so I was looking forward to an impromptu extra couple days on the beach. Little did I know that Hurricane Sally had other plans for me. Saturday was a relaxing and fun day. First the beach, then the Flora-Bama for live music and finishing at Hurricane Grill & Wings to watch college football - yay football is back. Still unaware of Sally's menacing intentions.

Sunday's plan was another relaxing morning, then a ride to Pensacola for an afternoon BBQ at my friend Mort O'Sullivan's house. I was also looking forward to watching the first NFL games of the 2020 season. Those plans were quickly dashed after I checked the weather forecast. Sally was taking dead aim at the Pensacola-Orange Beach-Mobile-New Orleans corridor. A few quick calls to my buddies along that stretch of my route, led to an even quicker decision to abort my stops at the Mobile H-D and my friends in New Orleans. Instead I made a quick breakfast stop in Pensacola to see Mort, then skedaddled west on I-10 as far as I could my butt would let me. About 400 miles later, I arrived in Lafayette LA, lucky enough to find one of the last hotel vacancies.

Sally made a direct hit on Orange Beach with the storm surge flooding out the Flora-Bama. Had I stayed the rest of the Ride 4 Dray would have been jeopardized. Whew!

Just a few more blogs to come to document the final weeks of the ride and summarize what we accomplished over the past 60 days.

Thank you to family, friends and supporters of the Ride 4 Dray!

85 views0 comments
  • Jim Clarahan

"loaded up and truckin',

a' we gonna do what they say can't be done,

we've got a long way to go and a short time to get there,

I'm east bound, just watch ol' Bandit run," click here to listen to legendary Jerry Reed having fun performing the theme song from Smokey and the Bandit.

A fitting tune too. Not only for my east coast ride from the Big Apple to Sea Island, but also fitting our purpose of finding a cure for childhood cancer!!!!! When a' we gonna do what hasn't yet been done - find a cure for cancer?

Manhattan to Sea Island in six days, 1500 miles, 8 states, 14 RSM offices, and 3 Alliance firms, were ahead of me, with Hurricane Laura taking dead aim at Lake Charles LA, and threatening to alter my route through the Mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas.

I was spurred on from Fishkill to the City via the Hudson River Valley by my friend and partner, Stu Taub and his wife Denise, with an outstanding dinner the night before at his club. Upon arrival in NYC, I reminisced my brief time living there with a walk around the 48th and 8th neighborhood, including NYFD Engine 54, Ladder 4 station, Hurley's and TSQ. COVID has turned Manhattan into a ghost of its former self. TSQ was empty on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, which on any other given pre-COVID day would have been jam packed.

Taking a bite out of the Big Apple with my friends from RSM's NYC office - Stu, Julie, Hank, Remi, Gail, Kathy, Paul, Foley, and others, all made this stop extra special and memorable. Thank you !

Ground Zero Tribute

The West River Highway hugged the Hudson as I headed to Ground Zero to pay tribute to the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, and to all those who perished, on 9/11/2001. Ten House NYFD is home of Engine 10 and Ladder 10, one of only two NYFD stations to house an Engine and Ladder of the same number. O'haras is a favorite watering hole for locals and visitors alike, a half block away.

The Wizard of Menlo Park - John Lanza

A BIG THANK YOU to John Lanza and the RSM Edison team. To date the Edison team has had the largest turnout to support the Ride 4 Dray and cheerlead me on my way. Thank you! And while Edison NJ (Menlo Park) may not have the glamour of NYC, it makes up for in spades with its ongoing contributions of innovative technologies that revolutionizes life the world over. Menlo Park is where the great inventor Thomas Edison set up shop and created such things as the phonograph, the light bulb and the first commercial use of electric light. Edison amassed over 1,000 patents during his life. In similar dogged fashion, John's persistence led to the creation of RSM's Menlo Park office. Now over 150 strong and still growing, the RSM Edison team is making its mark in the Garden State and proving it was a great strategic move.

The City of Brotherly Love, the home of Rocky and the Reading Terminal Market

First stop in metro Philadelphia was the Blue Bell office where I met up with partner Dave Cash. And then onto downtown Philly for photos with partners Sudhir Kondisetty and Paul Marvel . What started out as a fun and scenic ride along the Schuykill River Trail turned into a nightmarish extra hour long ride. My Garmin doesn't detect road construction and traffic delays - need I say more? And for all the times I've been to Philly, I had never been to the Reading Terminal Market for lunch. Thank you, Paul, for patiently waiting for my arrival, the walk thru Love Park, and picking up the lunch tab.

Baltimore and DC

Jamie Lee Fontaine and Roy Rackley met me outside the Baltimore office. Roy and Jamie have been holding down the fort, as they say, since the office was closed in mid March. Running low on fuel and with DC an hour away, they properly suggested a ride by Camden Yard, as the best path out of town and where I would find a much needed fuel stop.

Washington DC, McLean and Richmond

My early morning visit to our nation's capitol started at RSM's Washington National Tax (WNT) office, led by Patti Burquest. Patti, Christian, Lucy and Peter, greeted me outside for the obligatory picture and then inside for coffee and fresh donuts. Yum! Refreshed and a short buzz out to McLean VA, where I was greeted Saundra Robinson and Dorrisa Woods. They made me feel right at home. Before I headed onto Richmond, Saundra led us in a short prayer to bless the rest of my ride. Unfortunately due to precautionary measures related to COVID, my colleagues in Richmond were not available as I rode by, so a selfie or two, and the Virginia State capitol had to do.

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina

Rocky Mount's Steve Barnes and Judy Grimmer set the tone for my two day ride thru North Carolina. A short ride later and I was greeted in Raleigh by Jackie Prillaman, Tim Burgess, Keith Wallace, Mary Crist and Charles Britt. Next up Greensboro with Garrick Martin, Donna Brown, Anna Chase and Madalina Body. Garrick treated me to lunch before I headed on down the road to Charlotte, where I stayed the night. The following morning I caught up with Mark Kral and Dina Mattar at the Charlotte office. Then onward to Wilmington, the 3.5+ hours later to meet up with Rob Wagner and Gina Guarino Wilmington. It was fascinating to compare notes with Rob, as he is originally from Davenport office. After riding around town and then out to Wrightsville Beach, great suggestion Rob, I can understand why he boomeranged back to Wilmington. What a beautiful area to call home. To take a bite out the next day's ride to Sea Island, I dead headed in Myrtle Beach.

Carolina Loves Dray

And an extra big THANK YOU, to Brenda Woodington from the New Bern office. She organized and coordinated my North Carolina office stops, even though New Bern was not on my route. Hey, but then I learned she is a diehard Packer Fan, Go Pack Go!

Papa Loves Sea Island... after 28 days and 6200 miles, I was ready for a much needed rest

Myrtle Beach to Sea Island, via Savannah, was a 300+ mile ride along South Carolina and Georgia coastline. Knowing that I was in store for a much needed, relaxing 2 day break from riding, made the ride more than tolerable. Sea Island has two magnificent 5-star hotels, The Cloister and The Lodge, the home of the RSM Classic.

Next edition - Florida, the land of beaches, gators and rainy, humid, sticky September days. Stay tuned...

81 views0 comments
  • Jim Clarahan

"Ba de ya - say do you remember?" How could anyone forget Earth Wind & Fire's 1978 boogie woogie wonderland hit that is never tiresome to listen to? Enjoy this Youtube music video link "September" , as you read through the rest of this blog. "Ba de ya - never was a cloudy day!"

Remember September is also Children's Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) - Do Something!

The 2nd half of the Ride 4 Dray was perfectly timed to occur during the annual CCAM - September. I am very proud and privileged to have the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) as sponsor for my Ride 4 Dray. If you would like to learn more about the NBTS please click here, NBTS website link. The NBTS has a three-pronged strategy to achieve its vision for conquering and curing brain tumors:

  • Defeat - Accelerating Treatment-Focused Research

  • Connect - Uniting the Brain Tumor Community

  • Change - Improving the Brain Tumor Treatment & Research Environment

Thank You, National Brain Tumor Society, for sponsoring the Ride 4 Dray!

52 views0 comments

Papa’s Ride 4 Dray is a kids’ cancer awareness campaign, designed to be a catalyst for making positive change in the diagnosis of brain tumors, funding of research for a cure and improving treatment delivery.

We have so many exciting things going on, be the first to find out!

© 2020 by Ride4Dray.

Designed by justinlight.com

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn