Day 1 
October 1, 2017

Prattville, Ala

Gus pulled in my driveway right on time, 5:30am, on his 2014 Kawasaki 1400 Concours.  This tour would be different for me, because I'm not use to riding with a partner, but I promised my younger brother I'd take him on a long tour, and now I'm making good on that pledge.

I loaded the RT the day before, so there was nothing left for me to do, but tell Debbie goodbye.  The morning was very dark as we eased out my long driveway to make our way out of the still sleeping Eastwood community.  It was Sunday morning so everyone was sleeping in.  Everyone but us long riders, who needed a early start to put down these 500 plus miles to Central Illinois.

I called for a mic check on the Sena Bluetooths com system.  

"Can ya hear me?"

"yessss loud and clear."

The Senas will prove to be a valuable asset on this tour.

"lets stop at the Shell and fill up," I said.

"following you"

I topped off the RT with 3 gallons and Gus' Concours took the same.  Our question? Could we coordinate the gas stops.  It stood to reason the twin 1200 RT would get several mpgs more than the big, 1400 in line 4 Kawasaki, we just wanted to know by how much.

With gas tanks full we took I-65 North into the darkness.  I've been this way starting a tour so many times I've lost count.  Preplan research told us the Titans were playing at home today, so we'd have to take the outer loop around Nashville, but Birmingham would be no problem.  Weather would be warm and muggy for the ride.

Traffic was light, and we put the big sport touring bikes on 70 mph and reminded each other to be on the lookout for deer.  By the time we made it to Clanton the sun was clearing the landscapes.  The RT purred effortlessly, it had never run better.

The Garmin Zumo had the custom route on display, giving me all kinds of feedback on speed, directions, and miles to go.  I passed that info over to Gus via the com system.  The lane assist in the Garmin software is extra helpful, moving a rider to the correct lanes well ahead of time when entering a complex interstate system.

In what seemed like no time we were in the South Birmingham suburbs and moving through the city unimpeded.  

"Stay in one of the 2 center lanes at the junction ahead, and follow the signs to Nashville"  I instructed Gus.

"Ok got it"

We never hit the brakes coming through Birmingham.

The miles churned out as we cleared Birmingham and sped toward Nashville.  The morning was growing warm as the sun rose high in the sky.  I set the cruise control on the RT and chatted the miles away with my brother as we zoomed by slow moving cars and trucks.  It has been my experience troopers will accept anything under 80 mph in Alabama so we stayed at 78.

The Chevron con store in Cullman looked as good as any so we exited and took a well deserved break after putting down 140 miles.  They were good miles.  I bought a Mtn. Dew and moonpie, and sent out a few text messages.



We loaded up and continued north.

Nearing the state line I told Gus, "You'll notice the tarmac will be much better in Tennessee.  Nobody lays asphalt like these folks." And it was.

We inched up to 80mph, and I quizzed him, "what rpm you spinning at 80?"

"about 3200"

I looked down on the RTs tach and saw I was at 4.  It quickly became apparent the powerful Concours could walk off and leave the RT, without so much as breaking a sweat.  Having ridden the bike a few times, I knew it to be smooth and ultra powerful.

Approaching Nashville,  we took the number one lane.  Depending on time of day, it is quicker to spear Nashville through the heart, but the football stadium is near downtown and we did not want to get caught up in that mess, so we played it safe and took the outside loop around.

"OK, just follow me."  The Garmin kept me on track as we made several route changes. 

On the North end of town we took I-24 West.

Because it was Sunday we decided to beat the church crowds to the eating places.  At Clarksville we ate a nice lunch at a Logans Steakhouse.  A friendly waitress asked if we were brothers.


"So where y'all goin?"


We stayed on I-24 into Kentucky.  The weather was still warm, but not as hot as Alabama.  We could notice the difference.  

"We're gonna cross the Mason-Dixon line at the Ohio River near Paducah.  When you do that you are no longer in the South, be prepared to make the necessary adjustments."


"you guys instead of y'all"

I thought Gus would get a kick out of the Superman statue in Metropolis, so we exited and rode the 3 miles to the city center.  I already had that pic, but I was sure he'd want one.

A few minutes after we pulled up a SUV with several ladies on a road trip docked beside us.  They were from Maryland, and a real hoot.

I asked, "y'all been drinkin?"

"Noooo not yet, but will later.   You guys take a pic for us?"


They crowded around the Superman and I took the pic.  

They wanted to know about our trip.  "Not much to report, this is the first day."

The ladies from Maryland had a good time in Metropolis.
 ​Metropolis, Illinois

We took a few more pics and got back on the road.  Before leaving Metropolis we took a break in the local Mickey Ds.  McDonald has become my default for butt breaks.  I've mentioned in earlier journals the reason why.  Clean restrooms, nice drink bar, warm snacks, great wifi, and always a place to sit.  Most con stores have no place to sit.

I had a oatmeal cookie and Sprite.

With more miles to do we figured best to get back on the road.  The screen was low in the warm air and the jacket of the Klim was totally vented out.

The afternoon was growing late, and I wanted to get us to camp before it was dark, so we rode steady all the way through Illinois, switching routes to I-57 a few miles north of Metropolis.

We left I-57 at SR 24 for the final few miles to Wayne Fitizgerald State Park.  The custom route I created put us right on the entrance sign.  Wayne Fitizgerald is a huge park, and we had trouble finding the tent sites.  On entering the park we followed the road to the prmitive sites on the far side of the lake.  We were about to unload when the ranger came to us.  He told us he was a IBEW worker but couldn't find any work, so took this job with the state.

"Look if you pull wire probably plenty of work for you in Houston."

"Not ruled that out"

He advised the primitive sites would close tomorrow but would be ok for tonight.

"This is the primitive?  So you have sites with a shower nearby?"

"Yeah I'll take you to them."

A short ride later he pointed the way, "Just follow this road"

"Ok thanks"

We found a nice campsite near the lake for 20 dollars, and began the unloading process.  This will be my brother's first night in a tent since he was a kid.  I wasn't sure how it would go.

After sitting camp we got back on the bikes to look for something to eat.  The park had a nice restaraunt but the ranger advised it was closed.  Couldn't find anybody to run it.  We rode back out to SR 154 for a cafe the Garmin said was 5 miles away.  On arrival the unit was closed.  The next option was Benson, 10 miles away.  With no place to eat, we decided not to waste the time out and topped off the gas tanks at a Shell station on 154 near I-55.  I also went in and bought a Mountain Dew and chips for later at the camp table.

 We returned to the campsite to eat.  I brought a couple of canned goods, and 2 MREs for just such a occasion.

I broke out my micro stove and warmed up a can of Beefaroni and had a Long Rider's feast.  Hot and tasty.  Gus had a can of tuna fish, that stuck the whole site up.

"Gus, just so you know, coons are gonna smell that a mile off."

"You're right they're gonna come in and make a mess, I'll take the trash down the road."

I cleaned up my mess kit at the nearby water spigot, and then sat at the table with my brother to discuss the day's happenings.  We rode 506 miles today.

Our campsite was near a street light that was too bright.  It lit up our tents.  "Man all that light is gonna keep me awake brother.  I forgot to look for annoying lights in the face when I picked this spot out.  We'll have to make do."

It wasn't dark, but I could see the light in question on a high pole near the restrooms.  Gus went for a shower leaving me to Facebook for a few minutes.  When he came back we moved the Concours to a spot to shield the bikes from the annoying light we would surely get later.  Worked out nicely.

The night was warm but not overly so.  It was good sleeping weather in my book.

I slept well, "I'll see how well Gus did in the moring," and went to sleep.