Day 2
April 1st, 2004
KOA Campground
Slidell, Louisiana 

I slept kind of late this morning.  I estimate a 350 mile ride to Albany, Georgia, with about half of that at the hand of I-10. The 1300 can devour interstate miles so quick and comfortably you'd think you were on a magic carpet.  I could be in Florida in just a few hours if I wanted, so there was no need to rush.  If you are on a strict schedule then you are not on vacation in my book, but to each his own.

I rummaged out of my tent about 7:30am and packed up under a glowing sun.  Temps were kind of cool, but not too bad, only for this time of year.

The New Jersey lady wished me a good morning as she sat at her table sipping coffee.  I'm glad I'm not a coffee drinker, I can get up and go right to work.

By 8am I was packed and ready to roll out.  I did something different on this trip, thanks to the bigger saddlebags on the 1300.  Instead of rolling and packing my tent in the H2W bag, I just cram everything in my right hardbag.  Much easier and quicker.

One of the things that disappoints me on the 13 is they took away the bungee things the 1100 has located under the seat.   I guess the adjustable seat wouldn't work with them, or why else would they have removed such a handy item from a touring bike?

I-10 was calling my name so I proceeded to my appointed rounds.  I was not looking forward to this part of the ride, and it was going to be especially bad because I just came through here the day before.  I brought the screen up to just above my head.  Without thinking about it, I now have a system.  If I'm doing 80 mph or better on the interstate, I like the shield up, blocking all wind, and noise.  With the screen this far up all I hear are the tires rolling over the asphalt.  On 2 lane back roads, the screen is between my chest and chin.  I have a little wind noise and air at this position, but no buffeting.  In the twisties, or in traffic, or anytime my speed dips below 40, I like the screen almost full down,

In a few minutes I was back into Mississippi heading east.

Unlike everyone else, I wasn't startled when I saw a police cruiser sitting in the median.  It was there yesterday and empty, same thing today.  Just a decoy.

The wind is still blowing, but today it is a TAILWIND, and I feel it pushing me.  

Mobile was an easy run for the 1300.  I needed to check out something, so took one of the downtown exits.  I wanted to see the finish line of the Azalea Trail Run 10K one more time.  Twenty years ago I was a serious long distance runner, and I ran my 10K PR (personal record) of 37:35 on this course.  I use to be pretty good.
​Azalea Trail Run Finish Line.  Good Memories
I found the finish with little trouble, and thought back to the elation I felt when I crossed that line with a personal best.  I had trained really hard for that race and the payoff was worth it.  The good thing about such moments, you have them not only for that day, but you have it for always.  I smiled and loaded back up.
I took the tunnel, and went back to I-10 east and started out across Mobile Bay.

The battleship Alabama came into view.  Already had that tour, so I kept riding east across Mobile Bay.  A few minutes later I took my first break of the day at a Exxon Mart in Bay Minette.  I bought a Mountain Dew and  candy bar, and took a seat at the closed DQ attached to the mart.  I returned a message to my brother.
​The USS Alabama
I was looking forward to seeing my good friend Ray Holder again.  Ray is one my closest  friends.  We shared a lot through the years, and coached football and baseball together for 8 years.  Our sons are the same age, and grew up together.  The four of us were, and are, very close.  

One of the reasons Ray and I are so close is everyone else in Prattville hated us.  Our teams were good, and we won city championships after city championships.  We were accused of all kinds of cheating etc.  But all we did was work hard, and our kids worked hard, all of them, not just our sons.  They were fun times, but a lot of pressure.  The four of us did everything together.  I still recall the nights at Shoney's after a big win.
It was very rewarding for Chris and Collin (Ray's son) to go on to play college ball.

Chris and I owe a lot to Ray Holder.  He is family.  I have not seen him in 4 years, but that is about to change.
I called Chris and he informed me Collin told him Ray was retiring TODAY, the reason he hasn't returned my last 2 messages.  Dang, I'm sure Ray will be tied up with all his company coworkers till late in the night.  I left Ray a message I would be in Albany as planned, will find a room, and hook up the next day.

With all that sorted out it was time to get moving.  It seemed funny I was on a 3,000 mile tour and only a few hours from home.

The pace across Alabama was quick.  I fell in behind several cars cruising at 90 mph.  Traffic lightened up after Mobile.

As soon as I crossed the state line into Florida, I saw a huge white sign in the median.  "DRUG ENFORCEMENT AHEAD ALL TRAFFIC STOP FOR INSPECTION."  Can they do that? Of course not, I KNEW something was up.  I looked around and saw another sign "CAUTION SURVEY CREW WORKING," several jokers were on 4 wheelers and looking through scopes, but I knew what they were doing.

This is what was happening.  If a guy turned around and high tailed it back west to avoid the inspection, the "survey crew" radioed a chase car, and by the looks of it, they had caught more then a few.  I saw several deputy cars shaking down vehicles that did just that.  Some people are just so dumb.
I was getting hungry, and decided to take the SR 85 exit and ride down to the shoreline for something to eat.  I had just the place in mind.  The Back Porch in Destin.  I knew it was out of the way, but who cares, all I have is time.
The highway took me into Niceville, a bustling community full of busy shops and Air Force personnel that work at nearby Eglin AFB, the largest AF base in the country.  All of these roads are old hat.  Been on them a thousand times.  I followed the signs, and paid to use the private bridge across the bay into Destin.  

My family has been coming to Destin for 20 years.  We love it here.  The city has really grown over the years.  The Back Porch is located right on the Gulf.  I pulled in, took off the Roadcrafter, put on my Nikes, and went in for a nice seafood lunch of seafood gumbo and popcorn shrimp.  The food was outstanding, and the atmosphere unequaled.  It should be against the law to have as much fun as me.

I sat at my table, enjoyed a great lunch, with an even better view.  Out before me I could see the warm blue green water of the Gulf of Mexico washing up to the sugar white sand of Destin beach.  People sunbathed and a few hardy souls were swimming.  Water too cold for me this time of year.

 I called my wife and rubbed it in.  I was proud of who I was as I ate lunch. 
​The views from my Back Porch table
US 98 took me past the high rise condos to US 331 where I went north to DeFuniak Springs and rejoined I-10.  
The exits were far between as I motored west on the main southern link between Florida and California.  A guy could head west and ride all the way to the Hotel on I-10.  I could not imagine a worst fate. 

After all that excitement, I took the Caryville exit and gassed up at a Citgo station.   With my gas tank full, I went a few miles further west and took the Marianna exit and went looking for SR 91.  I was glad to be off the interstate, I thought I was NEVER going to get here.  Now I'm all set for some back road riding.

The air temp gauge on the 13 displayed 68F, still way below normal for this time of year.  It hasn't been above 70 all day.

I picked my way through the Panhandle city of Marianna.  The Panhandle is nothing like the rest of Florida, it is still very old south.  Spanish Moss drooped from the trees, and barefooted black kids played in the deserted parking lots of closed down shopping centers.  

SR 91 flows north out of the city and the 13 hummed along at 70 mph past farms and timberland.  At last I was able to trim the screen down and enjoy the wind on my face.  Riding with the Arai's shield up is not a problem on the 13, even with the screen down.

I was still in very familiar territory.  Dothan wasn't far away, a city I know a lot about.  Many friends there.
The highway took me past a smoldering woods fire just north of the state line.  The fire was contained but not out, and thick smoke blanketed the region.  The 13 spilt through the smoke and the odor caught in my breathing passages.  This time of year my eyes are sensitive, and they watered up.

Soon after I cleared the smoke area I saw a sign noting Albany was 62 miles away.  I should be there close to dusk. 

The powerful 1300 passed cars with ease on 91, I did not even have to drop a gear. 

SR 91 took me across familiar landscape.  I've visited the roads in this area more than a few times, mostly the east-west variety.  This highway runs north-south so every crossroads took me across a road I'd been on before.
The riding was at last good again.  The 13 carried me north through rural Georgia in the late afternoon sun, with my shadow beside me.

In Donalsonville, I found a old white service station and pulled in for some fancy water.  The island for the gas pump was covered in grease, and no pay at the pump was featured.  They had but 2 offerings.  High test and regular.  This place is not a shiny new gas mart, but an old fashioned "gas station." The office had nothing more than a cash register and a few fan belts hanging from the wall.  There were no long bright drink coolers, or shelves full of groceries, latte, or anything similar.  A two bay garage was attached to the right, a car was on the rack and I could hear wrenches clanging, and laughter from the guys inside.  Not surprisingly, there was no fancy water available, just a drink machine near the office door.  I chunked 2 quarters in for a can Coke, and heard a shout-

"hey tell that boy to move his motorsickle, gotta get this car outta here"

"k, lemme see where that joker went"

"never mind brother I heard him"

"thanks man"

Yes indeed I'm in the south, it was both amusing and comforting.

When I got back on the road I felt cool in the waning light.  I could feel the temperature changes as I passed through low spots and high spots.  Something only a rider notices.

I found a parking lot in Colquitt and zipped up the Roadcrafter.  I've lost several degrees the last 25 miles.  The temp gauge is proving to be handy item.
The modern Miller County Courthouse looked out of place 
in the downtown square of Colquitt, Georgia.

Even though it is not true, miles pass quicker when you are off the interstate.  SR 91 was a pleasant ride in Georgia farming country.  In what seemed like a few minutes I was sitting at a red light in Albany. Where did the last 60 miles go?  I idled at a traffic light pondering on what do do next.

I made a few turns and suddenly had the setting sun in my face, and it was hard to see. I had to shield the sun with my hand to make sure I could see the red lights.

On the by pass I was stopped at a traffic light when 2 black kids in bright leathers on crotch rockets, pulled next me.  I guess my race replica Arai made them think I was something I wasn't.  They revved their bikes and made them lurch forward.  The light changed, one gave me a thumbs up gesture, came up on his back wheel, and disappeared.

The bypass carried me through Albany, and north of US 82 I found a flop house and swooped in for a place to sleep.  The owner was at evening prayer when I stepped up to the window.  "I'll give ya 25 cash for a bed."  " Sign here."

I finished the day with 461 miles.  I didn't think it would be that far to Albany.

The ground floor room was 3 down from the office and I flopped in.  I've come to lower my standards over the years about motels.  A room is a room is a room.  It seemed neat enough, but who knows, and no matter how many lights I turned on, the room always seemed dark.

My phone rang, and Ray told me he was at last home from his retirement parties and will pick me up in the morning.  I had already planned on spending the morning with him, so when I leave is not that important, but I would like to make the Savannah area before quitting for the day.

I went outside and debugged the 13's windscreen, then came in and took a shower.

After I showered I took a walk next door to a Zaxbys for chicken fingers and sweet tea.  I called my wife, made notes, then went back to the motel and got out my portable DVD player and watched "The Ring."  My portable had a much better picture than the motel's TV, so I just layed it on the pillow beside me.

The fan blew the curtains out causing too much light to pour in, so I took one of my boots and weighed the offending item down.

I went lights out, about 11:30pm