I’m embarking on a ride of approximately 3,000 miles (+/-) which will take me through eight (8) states; Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It will begin near San Antonio, TX and end the same place, making one gigantic loop. The actual length, and route(s), will depend upon a couple of decisions to be made further down the road. As it stands now I will be attempting to visit the places on my agenda without traveling on any Interstate Highway. I got this idea from Alton Brown’s “Feasting On Asphalt” Here’s a link to Alton’s website where this was first announced. – http://www.altonbrown.com/pdfs/Feasting_on_Asphalt.pdf We’ll see how it works out for me. I’ll update this as often as possible, but since I don’t have a “smart phone”, and have to rely completely on free Wi-Fi hot spots to get online when traveling, I may not be able to do so daily. I know from previous experience the fast food places offering Wi-Fi are few and far between on these back roads. On the days I can’t get online I’ll just do a log of the day, then post it here at the first opportunity. The first few days entries will be posted together, then beginning on Thursday, 26JUN2014 I’ll begin attempting daily updates.
Hope you enjoy our journey. 🙂
Friday, 20JUN2014 – I changed my bike’s oil, gapped the plugs, and checked other fluids a couple of days ago. The original plan was to start out today, but other obligations prohibited that, so I will begin the ride tomorrow morning at approximately 5:00 am. Today I did the bike’s pre-trip inspection, gave it a good bath, and loaded my supplies so all I would have to do in the morning is get dressed, brew some coffee, and head out… at least that’s the plan. 😉
Packed And Ready To Go
Saturday, 21JUN2014 – I started out pretty close, for me, to the original start time. I was on the road at about 5:20am. Today’s portion of the route took me through several historic towns in Texas. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of them to post for today’s entry. It was dark when I went through the first couple of towns, then I was under an arrival deadline for today’s destination, a small town near Sulphur Springs, TX, for a family reunion so I was unable to spend the time necessary to get the pics I normally would have. I did get to enjoy seeing historic towns/places such as Boerne, Marble Falls, and the Billy The Kid Museum however. Well… I got to see the outside of the museum. They weren’t open when I was there. 😦
I’ll be here near Sulphur Springs, TX for at least one more day before continuing on. Once I leave here there shouldn’t be any more time deadlines, unless there’s something going on that’s weather related, so my future entries should be accompanied by plenty of photos.
It’s after midnight on Sunday, which made this a very long day, so I’m going to turn in now. Hope everyone has/had a wonderful weekend.
A Zero Day
Sunday, 22JUN2014 – Today was what hikers and backpackers call a “Zero Day”. In other words a day with no travel agenda. Just a day to enjoy the company of friends and family. This is the last day of the reunion so I’ll have to decide tonight whether to stay here another day or resume my journey.
Monday, 23JUN2014 – Well, the weatherman was right. It’s rainy and stormy this morning so I’ll be taking another zero day. The forecast calls for it to clear up later this afternoon but that would make for a very short ride today. Hardly worth the expense. I don’t mind riding in the rain when necessary, but to me that’s not a way to begin a trip. I’ll just stay here with my family, enjoy their company another day, then start out tomorrow.
Shortly after Noon the rain went away and it cleared off several hours before it was forecast to do so. My niece had been asking every day for a motorcycle ride, but with no extra helmet I was unable to fulfil this wish. We did reach a compromise however… I took a picture of her on the bike (wearing my helmet) after she agreed to save up money for her own helmet so when I return she’ll be able to go places with me on the bike. Judging from the big smile on her face I’m sure she’ll accomplish this goal and will one day join our ranks as a rider. 🙂
A Future Rider
Tuesday, 24JUN2014 – It’s a beautiful morning. I’ll be heading out after breakfast and all the “goodbyes”. I haven’t decided how far I’ll ride today, leaving that up to the weather (still predictions of storms), how many stops I make, etc. Hope to update this with pictures later today or tomorrow if possible.
Update – I rode until almost 7:00 pm. There was no rain and mostly blue sky with a few scattered clouds. Tonight will be a camping night. The “JB’s RV Park and Campground in Benton, AR (no, not Bentonville, AR) on US-67 is motorcycle friendly so I stopped there. The camping area is down by a little pond and is considered “primitive”, however there is a restroom nearby and laundry / showers near the office.
Camping By The Pond
The man who checked me in and showed me the camping area was very friendly and quite helpful. The campground itself is quiet and contains a fair amount of “full-time RVers”. There is security lighting nearby which gives enough light for one to find the restroom in the middle of the night, however the lights are not so close they spoil the beauty of this little spot at night. Wednesday, 25JUN2014 – Today’s ride was good for the most part. There was generally overcast skies which kept the temperature down, and no rain until I got near West Memphis, AR. I guess the sky was trying to make up for allowing me a dry ride most of the day because all of a sudden, with none of the few raindrops turning into more raindrops, then into heavier raindrops stuff there was a flash of lightning, the accompanying thunder, then torrential rain accompanied by high gusting wind. Visibility was down to about 50 feet at best. I was drenched before I could even pull off the road so there was no sense in getting into my rain suit. This storm lasted for about 15 minutes, then left almost as quickly as it had come. It’s a good thing my plan was to spend the night in Memphis, TN just across the river. I would have been too wet and chilled to go much further without somehow drying off and changing clothes. Oh well, that’s just a part of the experience. 🙂 I had planned to take a few riverboat pictures, and some photos in the Beale Street historic district, but while the thunderstorm moved on several heavy showers lingered. That’s not good for the camera so I decided against that. I had really wanted to get those pics. 😦 It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Memphis. Thursday, 26JUN2014 – I woke up at 6:00 am and was on the road by about 6:45 am. That’s the earliest I’ve started out so far during this trip. I liked it. Getting that early of a start gave me cool weather for several hours, something that’s appreciated in this area during the summer. It also allowed me to get closer to my next planned destination before stopping for the night, which should make tomorrow a shorter ride day. I only had one minor inconvenience. The right “floorboard”, or footrest, began working itself loose so I finally had to stop and tighten it in Spring Creek, TN. The parking lot I chose to take care of this had a Civil War historical marker in it, a plus for me. I love reading those plaques and learning about what happened years ago in the places I visit.
Forest’s Raid Historical Marker
After making the repair I continued on through Nashville toward Smithville, TN, stopping at the Hermitage on the Easternmost edge of Nashville.
The Hermitage – Front Entrance – Nashville, TN
The Hermitage was the home of President Andrew Jackson from 1804 to 1845 and is now a National Historic Landmark. More information can be found by clicking HERE. Andrew Jackson, and his wife Rachael, are buried on site.
Andrew and Rachael Jackson’s Tomb
After touring the Hermitage I continued on to Smithville, TN where I got a room at a little motel called the “East Side Inn”. It’s a small, older motel but in good shape for its age.
East Side Inn – Smithville, TN
The manager (owner??) is very friendly and helpful. There was a problem getting my internet connected so he worked with me for over an hour trying to resolve the problem. It turned out the problem was with the motel’s internet provider. I wish they offered at least a “continental breakfast” in the morning, but even without that I would stay here again when in the area if the internet problem isn’t an ongoing one. While looking around town I came across a drive-in called “Bumpers”. I didn’t eat there but it appears it’s something like “Sonic”. What caught my attention was it’s retro design.
Bumpers Drive Inn – Smithville, TN
The restaurant I had supper at is called “El Rancho”.
El Rancho – Smithville, TN
The food was good and the staff very accommodating. Getting your food takes a while because everything is cooked to order, but it was worth the wait. The prices are very reasonable and the plates are filled to all but overflowing. They also provide Wi-Fi, something I’m not used to having available in a sit-down restaurant. I give this restaurant a hearty thumbs-up. Friday, 27JUN2014 – This morning I was up and on the road by 6:00 am, that is if you count “on the road” as leaving the motel, going down the street a few blocks to the restaurant for breakfast, then heading down the road. The final destination for this leg of the trip is the Gatlinburg, TN area and a small town just over the state line in NC where some of my family lives. I’ll be spending a few days with them enjoying the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cherokee Indian reservation, and possibly visiting some of the historic towns in Western NC and Northern GA… that is IF the weather cooperates. It seems I’m caught in a rainy weather pattern that’s hanging around, not moving on as they normally do. I think the weatherman called it a “stalled out front” with a high that’s pumping in moisture from the Gulf.
Morning Clouds – 27JUN2014 – Smithville, TN
This part of TN has several sections of fun roadways that rise and dip with plenty of curves. It keeps the ride even more interesting than viewing all the different vistas encountered on the US and State highway systems that you never get to see on the Interstates. So far, my choice to travel the back roads has worked out well. The overall travel times from point “A” to point “B” aren’t all that different than they would be if traveling the Interstate since many of the US highways actually cut off corners where the Interstates swing out and around, thus adding more miles to the trip. At least that’s the case for longer journeys such as this one. I’m sure for short trips the Interstate would be the faster, although less scenic, choice. Another plus for the back roads is the lack of traffic jams. So far I’ve seen four (4) traffic jams on the Interstate that were miles long with nothing moving, and that’s just when the US highway(s) crossed or paralleled the Interstate. I have no idea how many would have been encountered had I chosen to travel via Interstate highways. When I entered Knoxville, TN mother nature had my gift waiting, another heavy rain. This time I was prepared! No sneaking up on me this time. LOL It had been raining long enough I could see cars headed toward me with their lights on, and sheets of rain in the distance, so I had time to put my rain suit on. This shower was pretty much confined to Knoxville. I began getting rained on just barely inside the city limit, and the rain stopped just before I left the city limit. Strange. I guess “the powers that be” figured Knoxville needed the rain more than the surrounding area. 😉 From Knoxville I went on to Sevierville, TN, then Gatlinburg, TN and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where it was raining. I just can’t seem to catch a break in the places I most wanted to take photos. When I got to the top of the mountain, Newfound Gap, there was a break in the rain so I was able to get a few photos there.
Newfound Gap – Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 27JUN2014
Notice the lack of cars and people in the background. This parking / overlook area is normally packed with tourists this time of the year. There were a few people at the far end of the parking area where I parked the bike while I walked around some.
Honda Goldwing At Newfound Gap – 27JUN2014
After my break I continued on through the National Park into Cherokee, NC where, of course, it was raining, then went on to my family’s house a few miles away. Hopefully while I’m here the weather will allow me to get some photos. As of the end of today’s ride I have traveled just over 1,500 miles.
End Of Day Trip Mileage – 27JUN2014
Saturday, 28JUN2014 – It’s another rainy day so I don’t think there will be any photos added to this report today. During a break in the rain I went with my family to a local park to allow their children to play outside while they had the chance, then I took advantage of the inclement weather by visiting some dear friends who live nearby. We had great conversation and a good lunch together. Hopefully I’ll be able to get together with them at least once more before I continue my trip. The balance of the day was spent with family. Sunday, 29JUN2014 – Today basically consisted of visiting old friends and family. There were several thunderstorms so no travel photos were taken. The weatherman is predicting only a slight chance of rain tomorrow after a night filled with more storms. We’ll see. I hope he’s right. I’d love to take some photos here before continuing my journey. Monday, 30JUN2014 – The weatherman was partially correct about today. There were heavy showers here until almost Noon, then they quit leaving a mostly cloudy sky. I took advantage of the lack of rain to go back to the Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation. When I came through these on Friday I didn’t stop for pictures, except at Newfound Gap, because of the rain. The first thing I went to in the park was Mingus Mill which is a water powered grist mill. The mill is operational and visitors can purchase bags of fresh ground corn meal and flour.
Mingus Mill – Great Smoky Mountains National Park
After visiting the mill I stopped at the park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center
Oconaluftee Visitor Center
Then I visited the pioneer farmstead re-created from authentic structures.
After I finished looking around the farmstead I headed South into the Cherokee Indian Reservation.
Cherokee Indian Reservation Welcome Sign
There’s a Harrah’s Casino on the Reservation that provides a significant source of income for the tribe.
The casino sits on land previously occupied by Frontier Land. I visited that theme park when I was a kid. Even back then I didn’t understand the idea of white Calvary soldiers shooting Native Americans on an Indian Reservation. Here’s a photo of Frontier Land’s main entrance. It’s circa 1970 so the quality isn’t up to today’s standards.
Frontier Land Main Entrance, Circa 1970
The Museum Of The Cherokee Indian is very interesting and has a lot of artifacts in its collection. The museum had a major renovation a couple of years ago. It’s a great place to visit if you have an interest in the Cherokee culture or are a history buff.
Museum Of The Cherokee Indian
In front of the museum is a statue of Sequoyah who invented the Cherokee alphabet.
Sequoyah Statue – Front
Sequoyah Statue – Side View
Throughout the city of Cherokee, NC is a series of concrete bears that depict traits or specialties of the different clans (groups) within the tribe. Each bear has a unique mural painted on it. If you’ll look past the Sequoyah statue side view photo you will see a black version of these bears. A few years ago there were twelve (12) bears. I think that number has since increased.
Concrete Bear – Cherokee, NC
When I finished cruising around Cherokee I went back to my family’s house to prepare for tomorrow’s departure.
The Return Trip
Tuesday, 01JUL2014 – Today begins the return to home portion of this ride. This is the first day since I left Texas the sky has been blue, for the most part, and rain chances are negligible. I woke up early, went to town to pick up a few last-minute supplies, had breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts, and was on the road a little after 9:00 am.
The first part of my ride was on US-441, then I had to get onto the Interstate to get through Atlanta. Well, I didn’t have to do so, but staying on a US highway through a city this size would have taken much more time than I wanted to waste, although I’m sure some of it would have been interesting. After leaving Atlanta I was able to get back on the state and US highways in Union City, GA.
One of the small town I rode through in GA was Newnan, nicknamed “The City Of Homes”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I love going through the small towns off the (now) beaten path. The unexpected things you find are sort of a serendipity to the enjoyment of the ride. This little town had a lot of history behind it, and some beautiful buildings.
Here are a couple of pictures of its courthouse. It’s one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen in a long time.
Newnan, GA Courthouse – Tall
Newnan, GA Courthouse – Wide
Near the courthouse are two monuments I took an interest in. The first was a Confederate commemorative stone.
Confederate Commemorative Stone
The second was a plaque to commemorate a Creek indian chief.
Indian Commemorative Plaque
Then there was the library. Who would have thought a little town like this one would have a library that was a gift from Andrew Carnegie?
Andrew Carnegie Plaque
Carnegie Library – Newnan, GA
Then, as if this wasn’t enough, the town has a beautiful mural painted on the side of a building next to the courthouse. These photos do not do it justice. The first one didn’t come out as good as it looked in person because of where I had to take the pics from.
Left Half Of Mural – Newnan, GA
Right Half Of Mural – Newnan, GA
I exited GA near the town of West Point. Tonight was spent in the college town of Auburn, AL. I suppose you’ve heard of it. 😉 My lodging for the night was an extended stay hotel called the Stay Lodge. A simple name for a great place to stay. They advertise the lowest rates in town, and it’s the truth. They are at least $15 lower than their closest competitor. A low price doesn’t mean much if the hotel isn’t up to par, but this one really surprised me. The staff was very friendly and helpful, the rooms spacious and clean, and the Wi-Fi worked quite well, something I’ve found to be a problem during this ride at some other hotels. An added bonus was the dorm-sized refrigerator and an electric stove in addition to the microwave. This place definitely gets a big thumbs up!
Stay Lodge Room – 1
Stay Lodge Room – 2
Wednesday, 02JUL2014 – I was blessed with another beautiful morning today! I hope this is the beginning of a trend. 😉 After leaving Auburn I rode toward the town of Shorter, AL. A short distance outside of Auburn I came across an old cafe and what had been a Fina gas station. I’m not sure how they handled it, but the building across the street where I parked to take the pic was as old, if not older, than the cafe, is a former gas station turned bait shop, and still had the old faded paint configuration of the Fina gas stations. I assume that’s the station advertised by the sign near the cafe.
Old Torch Cafe
A couple of miles North of Shorter, AL I came across a historical marker for the “Lucas Tavern”, circa 1818.
Lucas Tavern Historical Marker
After I passed thru Shorter, AL I had to get onto I-85. 😦 The highway I was on, US-80, just disappeared. That is, the signage for it quit. I went about a mile back to a fire station I had seen before the signs ended and asked which way US-80 went. They told me the road construction crew had taken the sign down and never put it back up. Figures. LOL This is the second (2nd) time so far that has happened. Anyway, after a short ride on the Interstate I was able to get back to US-80. I’m not sure what town it was near (need to keep better notes), but I came across a Greyhound Bus station.
Greyhound Bus Station
Nothing new or exciting about that. Right? As I passed it I thought I saw a sign that was a bit out-of-place so I went back to see if I saw what I thought I saw. Yep, I did! It was an old Trailways Bus Sign stuck onto the front of the building halfway hidden by the bushes, and I’m sure long forgotten.
Old Trailways Bus Line Sign
The Trailways Bus Line was also known as Continental Trailways. While Trailways busses are still running, they’re now basically a co-op of eighty (80) different bus companies, and have a distinctly different logo than the one found on the side of this building. The sign was used specifically by Continental Trailways which ceased operating back in 1987 when it was purchased by Greyhound Bus Line to eliminate a significant portion of its competition. A little further down the road I came across a Motorcycle Club clubhouse with a sign out front that says “LoKey Riders M C”.
LoKey Riders M C Sign
I Googled it to ask permission to use the photos, but was unable to find anything about it. It may, or may not, still be active. In any case, whoever did their murals did a great job.
LowKey Riders M C Clubhouse
LoKey Riders Mural 1
I wonder if it is/was a female riders MC?
LoKey Riders Mural 2
An hour or so down the road I entered Mississippi. This is what I’ve been waiting for. 🙂 The secondary purpose of this ride was to visit a location here that I haven’t been to in years. An explanation will follow tomorrow. Tonight I’ll be stopping down the road in Hattiesburg, MS so I’ll be within an hour of my “target”. Thursday, 03JUL2014 – Hmmm, not sure what to think about the motel I stayed at last night. Perhaps I should explain. First of all the motel is called the “Deluxe Inn”. Keep that name in mind as I describe my experience.
Deluxe Inn – Hattiesburg, MS
As I pulled up to the motel I looked it over and found the outside to be clean, in good repair, and the cars parked in front of a few rooms had an assortment of out-of-state license plates. I’ve found after years of travel if most, or all, of the cars in the parking lot have local plates the motel is probably occupied primarily by people who have no place else to go or there is something “fishy” going on there. While I was checking in a woman came into the lobby and said her room hadn’t been cleaned so she wanted fresh sheets, towels, soap, and toilet paper. Not the best thing to hear while checking in, but having been in hospitality management I know rooms can get skipped for a variety of valid reasons so I didn’t think much about it. The clerk apologized and asked the woman if she would like someone to come to her room to take care of it. Ok, good sign. They didn’t make excuses and wanted to rectify the situation. The woman declined and said she’d just take care of it herself if they’d give her what was needed. They did, she left, and I continued my check-in. When I got to the room I quickly checked to see if my room was missing any of the things the woman had asked for. It wasn’t, and as the sign out front had advertised, it looked like it had recently been made “new”, so I brought my gear in from the motorcycle. As I was preparing to shower I noticed the holder for the facial tissue was empty so I went to the office to get a box. Well… when I asked for it the clerk instantly went ballistic, motioning wildly with her hands as if they were picking cotton or something, glaring at me, saying they didn’t supply facial tissue because everybody always stole them out of the boxes, or took the boxes, and they weren’t going to put out things that people took so I couldn’t have any. Needless to say I was quite shocked by this outburst, so I told them I’d get my own from the store and left. After my shower I started making a list of what supplies I wanted from the store such as microwaveable meals (supper and breakfast), snacks for the road tomorrow, facial tissue, etc. I checked to be sure the microwave was plugged in and found there was no microwave. I suppose they thought someone would steal it. Then I looked for the coffee maker. None, nadda, zilch. I can only imagine the reason(s) for not having a coffee maker in the room… either they thought someone would steal their coffee or perhaps the coffee maker itself. By now my affordable room ceased being affordable. I would now have to pay for two restaurant meals I hadn’t budgeted for ( the motel didn’t offer a “continental” breakfast), any late night snack I might want, as well as coffee if I wanted some to drink early in the morning. At least there was a small refrigerator in the room, with a tiny freezer, the internet worked good, and the bed was comfortable. I’m going to give this motel not only a big thumbs down but a giant frown 😦 as well. I definitely would not stay here again even if I had to ride another fifty (50) miles to the next decent sized town. Now that I’ve vented… I awoke this morning to a cooler morning than I’ve had the past few days and bright blue sky. The weatherman said there would not be rain today. Hurray! A day without rain! It’s going to be a great day with wonderful weather and my secondary destination, the “Twilight Zone road” less than half an hour away. 🙂 I rode the twenty (20) or so miles to the little town of Brooklyn, MS on US-49 (now Old US-49). This is an area I used to pass through during the summers I made a trip from the Northeast portion of Texas to the East coast of Florida. One of my best friends attended college in a small FL town in pursuit of his Navigation degree so he could become a ship’s captain. Years ago, when I was in college, I would drive straight-thru after work on whatever Friday followed the end of the school year (and payday) for the summer, to visit him and have a summer away from home. I’d sleep in his dorm room at night, then in the morning I’d put my sleeping bag and pillow in his closet as if it was his camping gear so if there was a room inspection he wouldn’t get in trouble. During the day I’d enjoy the beach or work some part-time job for extra money. At the end of the summer I’d go back home and return to school. For no more planning than was made this worked rather well. 🙂 Anyway… Brooklyn, MS was an area that I would always pass through at night, and it would always be foggy. Not just any fog, but a strange fog, at least to me at the time since I never considered Brooklyn’s proximity to a couple of nearby rivers and the effect the daytime heating, and nighttime cooling, had on the water.
Old And New River Bridges – Brooklyn, MS
When headed South I would enter the fog about twenty (20) minutes before getting to Brooklyn, stop at the convenience store to purchase gas and a snack, then head on down the road.
Brooklyn Quick Stop – Brooklyn, MS
Well, each and every time, whether coming or going, the fog would disappear shortly after leaving the convenience store. Even when headed North, the fog would disappear within a short distance of the store, not at the point it usually began when headed South. After a couple of times this occurred I gave that portion of the road the nickname “Twilight Zone Road”. As I left the store this time to continue my ride I looked forward to crossing the same old iron bridge I would cross back-when. I was disappointed to see it had been replaced by a new one. At least the old one was still there, just no longer in use.
Concrete And Iron Bridges – Brooklyn, MS
If you’ll go back up the page to the first pic of Brooklyn’s bridge you’ll see a highschool age boy, with his bicycle, coming up the dirt road from near the bridge. When he saw me take a picture of the bridges he said, “Are you here to take bridge pictures too?” I told him, “Yes” and simply said I used to travel this road when the bridge was still in use. He told me he was taking pictures for a school report about the difference in the bridges and the change from the old road to the new road and asked if I would answer a few questions about the old road. I agreed, and we had a nice, but short, conversation about my travels along the Old US-49. He wanted to know why I traveled this road so I gave him an abbreviated version of the above portion of this post. I assume at some point in time my Twilight Zone experience will become part of the history of a local school. That’s cool. 😉 After leaving the Brooklyn, MS area I continued South, still keeping to the back roads, until I got to Picayune, MS where I had to take I-59(S) and I-12(W), entering Louisiana near Nicholson, MS. Unfortunately I had to stay on I-12 and I-10(W) until I got to Rayne, LA, a short distance West of Lafayette, LA. This is another one of those cases of the US highway following the Interstate highway’s roadbed. 😦 In Rayne, LA I was finally able to leave the Interstate and follow the US highway again. Rayne is an interesting little town. They have a lot of frog statues such as the one pasted below. It also seem to be a prosperous little town. Many of the small towns I passed through seemed to be struggling to survive.
Frog Statue – Rayne, LA
Each statue is placed in front of a business, or school, and each is unique in its design to that location. For example, the frog in front of a dentist office had on a lab coat with a dental logo on it. As I proceeded through town I passed a cemetery.
Cemetery – Rayne, LA
In the Southern part of Louisiana, especially if the town is near the Gulf or other large body of water, there are no in-ground graves. The deceased are buried in above-ground vaults because of the water table and the possibility of flooding bad enough to cause the ground to become saturated and the caskets to float to the surface. Leaving Rayne I continued on to Lake Charles, LA where I had to get onto the Interstate again, but only for a short distance this time. My hotel of choice (Days Inn) was only a few blocks from the US highway I will be following in the morning. I know the experience will be much better there than at the Deluxe Inn. 🙂
Days Inn – Sulphur, LA
So far, I have traveled 2,620 miles.
Trip Distance – Sulphur, LA
Friday, 04JUL2014 – Happy Independence Day!!!! – Last night went well, if you don’t count extremely severe storms after stopping a bad thing. LOL I felt very fortunate this series of storms waited until I got checked in and at the Cracker Barrel restaurant on the other side of the Interstate before beginning. There was very high wind gusts, driving rain, and frequent lightning strikes. The lightning was not just in the distance but within 1/10th mile of the hotel and restaurant. After eating I sat out on their porch in a rocking chair over two (2) hours waiting for the storms to pass. I sure wish I had a video camera with me. The lightning show would have gone over well on YouTube. About the time I thought the storm had passed another one would move in. It’s a good thing I enjoy rocking chairs, because I wasn’t going to be leaving any time soon. In fact, a good-sized crowd had gathered on the porch by the time the last storm moved through. All in all it was somewhat relaxing. The cool, almost cold, wind felt good after riding all day in the heat, and the rain freshened the air. Of course the bike getting a good bath, for free, was quite serendipitous also. 😉 Today should be the last day of my trip. It will take me less than an hour to get to Texas. A few minutes past the state line I will be visiting some of my family that was at the reunion, then I’ll be heading on home. The forecast calls for scattered showers and storms. I’m willing to bet I can forecast where those will be. LOL Update – The visit with my family was great! We had breakfast and talked for over an hour. 🙂 There were storm clouds on the horizon as I headed out, but most of the overhead clouds had moved on. I caught up with the rain clouds somewhere near Columbus, TX which is a short distance West of Houston.
Caught Up With Rain Clouds – Columbus, TX Area
A few miles down the road they started getting closer and darker.
Approaching Storm Clouds – Columbus, TX Area
Before long they got more ominous and I started getting sprinkled on.
Ominous Storm Clouds – Columbus, TX Area
About two (2) miles down the road from the above photo the bottom dropped out and I was deluged with heavy rain and wind. No problem, I put my rain suit on when I stopped to take the first picture of this series of cloud photos. My rain suit is a two-piece Columbia Storm Proof suit. It lives up to its name. I used to wear in while backpacking, then when I started doing more riding than hiking I moved it from my backpack to the saddle bag. It has never leaked even in the strongest of storms, yet it is “breathable”. It would be the perfect suit if it had booties. My feet got a little wet whenever I ran into a heavy rain, but that’s because I was wearing my cowboy boots, not my waterproof boots. Had I taken the time to put the waterproof boots on I would have been dry from head to toe. Oh well, that’s the way it goes when you get in a hurry. The rain stayed with me for the most part all the way home. I had a few miles here and there with no rain, but that was the exception rather than the rule. It didn’t really matter. While I would have enjoyed seeing more of the countryside, I had become used to riding in the rain by this time, and getting home tonight, not tomorrow, was the primary objective now. Besides, the rain made the ride a lot cooler than it would have been in the typical late afternoon Texas heat. 🙂
Total Miles Traveled = 3,070
Total Fuel Consumed = 84.0 Gallons (I wonder how it came out even like that???)
Trip End – Total Distance Traveled – 04JUL2014
Average Miles Per Gallon, Per Trip Computer = 39.4 MPG
Average Fuel Consumption Rate
Average MPG, Per My Calculator = 36.54 MPG – I like the trip computer’s mpg better. 🙂 I think the trip computer takes into account the long distances with low consumption rates, such as the 45.9 or 51.3 mpg I saw when doing “right now” spot checks of the mpg, rather than a simple overall average. Perhaps the major “thief” of an excellent overall mpg average was all of the small town I went through with their stop signs, traffic lights, and sharp changes of direction necessary when following the US or state highways. When traveling the Interstate(s) the only stop-and-go events necessary are when entering, exiting, or finding places in town to eat or get lodging. Otherwise, a relatively steady speed applies for long stretches of the highway(s). The trip computer also records how many hours and minutes have been ridden, but I forgot to check that before resetting the computer. Perhaps I’ll remember that after the next long ride. As always… Happy, And Safe, Biking!
I forgot to include an event that occurred in North Georgia a few miles before entering Atlanta. I had stopped to check my map and obtain change for a toll road that was a short distance away. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a car pull up crossways behind me. Still intent on my map I sort of glanced around out of the corner of my eye and realized it was a squad car. Just as I began to wonder what I could have possibly done that was wrong I heard a male voice, in a loud deep Southern drawl, say, “Boyeeeee”. I removed my helmet, got off the bike, and walked back to the officer who was a deputy Sheriff. “Yes sir” I said knowing the strict, sometimes hard, reputation of deep South law enforcement officers. “Welllllll”, he responded, “I’ve never seen anything hotter than that in my entire life.” Huh? Now I was confused so all I could say was, “Excuse me?” He went on to say, “I have a bike exactly like that one except it’s an ’86”. “That’s cool” I replied. “This one’s an ’85”. “I know” he said, “but there’s not one iota of difference in them except mine’s the Interstate model.” Knowing I was deep within his jurisdiction, and not wanting to upset him, I didn’t bother trying to explain that mine is an anniversary edition with all the bells and whistles Honda could come up with, including a trip computer, and his was a standard model with only the items necessary for it to operate properly, so I simply answered, “Yes, they’re pretty much alike”. After this exchange the officer explained his opening statement. “I pretty much only ride my Honda, and only occasionally ride my Hog, but I never wear both my chaps and jacket in the summer. I don’t see how you can survive wearing all that gear! I only wear my jacket during the winter.” Keep in mind this is coming from a law enforcement officer, who is also a rider. He should know very well the protective value of proper gear, especially on the highway. Still not wanting to agitate him the only reply I could come up with was, “It’s fine while riding since I get a breeze, but it’s not so comfortable when I have to stop.” In fact, wearing the jacket (which is a light tan) partially zipped is actually cooler while riding at highway speeds in the sun. It keeps the sun from baking my arms and creates a chimney effect. The sleeves are loose-fitting so the breeze enters at my wrists, travels up my arms, then as it exits around my neck it pulls in more air around my chest. It’s sort of like sitting in front of a fan. Yes, it does get a bit hot when I have to stop for very long, but then I get an even cooler ride for a while when I start back up because of the perspiration evaporating. Fortunately at this point he got a cell phone call and politely excused himself. Whew!! I went inside a nearby store to get the change I needed. When I got back outside the deputy had gone. As I continued toward Atlanta, and came to the portion of GA-400 that had been a toll road for years, I found the toll booths had been removed and the highway was no longer a toll road. That’s great, but I wish I had known that before! 😉