Day 10
October 10th, 2017
Motel 6 
Poplar Bluff, Missouri

We slept in this morning.  We would be home in our own bed at day's end, so we took our time.  It didn't matter when we arrived.

The skies were dreary and wet, and radar put a line of rain northeast of Memphis, and scattered rain in the Birmingham area.  "We don't have to be in a hurry, if we take our time the rain in Memphis will be cleared out by the time we get there."

It was time to fire up the Connie.  "Is it going to power up?"  Always the question.  We held our breath, karma always seemes to go bad just when you think it won't.  The 1400 powered up, and Gus hit the starter instantly bringing it life.  In my situation I knew the RT would power up, but idle?  No.
I turned the RT over and it came to life; and this time it idled.  In fact, it idled perfectly.  “Go figure.”  Perhaps it only likes Southern air?  Gus said, “It will idle till it warms up and then FI is gonna cut back the gas flow.”

From the Motel 6 we rode 3 miles east on a busy U.S. 60, and gassed at a Shell Station, where the bikes could get back on 93 with V power.  To our surprise the RT continued to idle.

In the parking lot I tabbed the “Home” icon, and the route home appeared on the Zumo.  That is always a nice feeling on the last day of a long tour.

Just like last year the GPS directed us through Poplar Bluff to SR 53 where turned south.  I recalled this route a good ride.  It moved us past crop fields and small towns. 

Commuter and school traffic annoyed us, but there was nothing we could do. 
Vents on my Klim were still open in the thick humid air of South Missouri which is every bit as bad as Alabama.

SR 53 took us south to U.S. 412, where we turned East for I-55 about 20 miles away.  The skies were very dark and dropping small rain drops.  A underpass near 55 came into view so we got under it for Gus to put on his rain gear, one of drawbacks of not having a dedicated all weather riding suit.

​Putting on the rain gear
U.S. 412- into the rain.

“The best way to keep the rain away is to stop and put your rainsuit on.”  I told him.

“LOL, funny how that is.”

All decked out for rain we turned south of I-55 and headed for Memphis, a bad place for 2 long riders.  I despise going through the city, yes it’s the shortest way home, but I don’t know if it’s worth it.

I-55 was fast on this morning, cars whistled by us at 10 over so we said, “what the heck, lets go.”  Even the Iowa speed ticket wasn’t enough to deter us.

Riding south the skies grew lighter and the rain lifted, we were in the delta lands of the Mississippi River.

With Memphis on the horizon a morning break was called for.  We took the Hyati exit and parked in a local Hardee’s and reminded we were back in the south.  The people in this area of the country who work in these places don’t want to be there, and take it out on the customers. I mean not all of them, but most.  I ordered the sausage biscuit and the clerk all but threw my tray at me, and never said one word other than if it was eat in or take out.

I called Debbie and told her we were on schedule, and almost to Memphis, the bedsore of Tennessee.

Weather app told us the line of rain near Memphis had moved north and we were good.

From past experience I knew the Zumo would route us over to the new bridge and through the city on 240.  I knew that could be a roll of the dice.  If anything happened, anything at all, you could be stuck for hours.  The city has some of the worst truck traffic in the country.  At any given time, truck to car can be close to 50-50.

The city itself is a blight, one of the worst in my experience.  Coming through on I-55 you think you’re in a 3rd world country.

We cleared the bridge over the river with no problem and followed the route to I-240, but before we could get to U.S. 78 we ran into a back up, and it looked like a long one.

Traffic crept along at 5 mph and though rough, the RT idled.  I only had to work the throttle minimally.   It was almost hot, and the oil temp gauge on air cooled RT began to creep up.  It took us 30 minutes to cover the 2 miles to the problem.  A West bound 18 wheeler had jacked knifed over the concrete barricade separating east and west bound and blocked 2 east bound lanes. A half dozen emergency vehicles were working to clear the mess.

With oil temp gauge more than halfway, we cleared the back up and back in to open riding.  The temp quickly dropped in the moving air.

U.S. 78 South of Memphis is the worst.  With a large cargo area nearby, there are hundreds of trucks pouring in, and as a result have beat the tarmac into a pulp.  Lots of traffic lights also, we were choking in the diesel fumes.  “I’m not coming this way again”, I told Gus, “I’ll look for something else.”

Things change quickly once you go into Mississippi.  The road surface is good and much less traffic.  We cranked the sport tourers up to 80 mph and focused on home.

The new interstate to Birmingham is I-22.  After many years of talk and work, the project is complete, and it works beautifully.  Nice road surface, limited exits, and well marked.

We gassed at a Shell station near Holly Springs, and this time the RT had the reserve light on.  I would have gone further but Gus was nervous about the Connie. It was a quick gas and go.

It was humid and sticky but clouds kept the temp down for us, after being out west we were spoiled to low humidity

 Only a few hours away from Prattville, the only reason I had the GPS still on was for the entertainment.  “I know the way home from here.”

We spent the night in Tupelo in June when we went to Corinth to pick up the CB 1100.  We spoke about that when we came through the town.

In Fulton we ate a pretty good lunch at a Huddle House.  Our server was a nice young lady who worked us hard for a nice tip.  We obliged her.

When we crossed into Alabama I called out, “ALABAMA! YEHAY!, and opened the throttle up and the RT jumped to 110 mph.

“Hey what are you doin?”  Gus asked in curiousty.

“I’m back in Bama!  Can’t be held back!”

It didn’t last long and I dropped back to 80 before anyone with a blue light saw me.

Although we had gas, we stopped at a Shell in Carbon Hill to top off.  “This will take us home, I didn’t want to stop 20 miles home for gas.”

“oh ok, makes sense.

When it came time to start up I looked over to Gus, “Ok she needs to light up one more time for us.”  Gus turned the switch and we could hear the connection take place, running lights flicked on, and we knew we were good.  After coming close to turning around in Nebraska all those miles ago, we were going to make it home with the funny acting switch.

The RT bristled with excitement as we closed in on Birmingham and home.  The bike was running perfectly and the idle problem of the last few days seemed to be going away.

We shot through Birmingham never touching the brakes, scooted past the weekend shoppers in the southern suburbs, and on to I-65 South, knocking out the last 70 miles quickly.

The last 50 miles home were a time of reflection.  Gus now has fresh memories of what lies out beyond his comfort zone.  I did my best to show him the most diverse lands we could ride in one trip.  The people we met all came by chance.  A Long Rider might know where he wants to go, but he can’t prepare for the different people he will encounter once he arrives.

“Man I never thought I’d get to do a trip like this.”

“Well, I’m glad you made the ride with me, it was a great tour.”

Back in  Autauga County and 20 miles from home, we talked what we were going to do tonight.

Before I coud answer him I drew abreast of 18 a wheeler, and suddenly my Sena announced I was no longer connected.  I reached up to tap the button, to reconnect.  It came right back.

“I don’t know what happened, next thing I know I was booted off”

“I’m thinking that 18 wheeler keyed up his mic and booted you off, he might have some kind of amp in this cab or something.”

Gus had 2 options for home, the 186 exit or the 181.  “Which exit you taking bro?”

“The 186, less traffic for the last 5 miles to my house that way”

“Oh ok.  Hey, you’re officially a Long Rider now.  Might be grade 3, but you’re there.”

“Yeah, thanks to you.  Man that was a lot of fun,” as he shifted right to exit.   “Great experience, now I know why you love it so much.  I’ll talk to you long as I can before we disconnect.”  I continued on South as I watched him turn right on U.S. 31, and head home.

He was still talking when the coms grew fuzzy, and then fell silent; I reached up, and turned the unit off. 

A few miles later I took the 179 exit for East Prattville and headed to my home in Eastwood, just 1 mile away.  Wating out the traffic light to turn into Eastwood, the RT idled perfectly.

I entered our community and rode the last few blocks to my house.  “Good to be home.”  Up the long driveway I went and set the stand at my backdoor, completing a 4334 mile ride, and 476 miles for the day.

My wife, like so many times before, came out to greet me and walk me in.  I left the RT loaded, “I’ll take care of that tomorrow.

It was good to sleep in my own bed that night.  My cat Lilbit, was glad to see me also.  I had a big plate of homemade spaghetti to celebrate my return.  Debbie and I ate at our farm table just the two of us.  We like that, after being empty nest for almost 20 years.

I love riding and touring, but I always enjoy coming home.  I enjoyed riding with my brother on such an adventure; it was indeed different from all my solo tours.

Glad y’all made the trip with us.


The next day I unloaded the RT and put away my camping gear.  I washed and waxed it the next day.

A week after my return I took the RT out for a 100 mile ride and had no issues with the idle.

The bike goes in for a oil change, and valve adustment in 2 weeks.  I'm not sure yet if I'll ask them to check the idle situation.

Gus advised he was going to replace the activator on the Connie sometime this winter.