​​​BamaRider
 

Day 20
June 30th, 2002
Bossier City,  Louisiana 

T
he morning was gray with a few light raindrops falling.  The air was so thick with moisture, the atmosphere sprung a leak.

I felt kind of melancholy as I strapped my gear down.  I would be home in a few hours, and this trip will be in the books.  The people and places of a awesome tour safely tucked away.

I would need no route guide on my left sleeve.  I know the way home.  I am back in familiar territory.  I know the customs, the language, and the regional colloquialisms.

The Harley grandmother stepped over to speak with me as I finished packing.  It was almost 7am.  

"My granddaughter and daughter slow me down, or otherwise I would be outta here with you"


"well, New Orleans is not that far"  
"yeah, but we won't even make it to the freeway before we will have to stop for breakfast"

"well, life is a compromise, just remember when this trip is over, it will be something none of y'all will forget.  And stay out of trouble down there in the French Quarter"

I brought the ST life and strapped the Arai on as it warmed up. I through my leg over, and gave the young grandmother a nod then circled the Honda out to the driveway.

I was back on I-20 a mile later, east bound across Louisiana.  I would not be doing any meandering today.  I am in my homeland, and I have already seen much of Louisiana on previous trips, but this was the first time on the ST.  I realized I just picked up another state.

Traffic is very light on this Sunday morning but I keep it around 80.  Last thing I need to hear is La. trooper getting out of the car saying, "you're in a heapa trouble boyah."

I will ride east as far as I can till I need gas, or my butt demands a break.

The sun burns off the morning haze to partly cloudy skies.  

I cross the Mississippi in Vicksburg, and back into the land of W radio stations.  A few miles later I come down off 20 for gas and a break.  I filled up the ST and then went inside for a snack.  I peeled off the Roadcrafter and layed it across my bags.

"hey, y'all got Moon Pies?"

"of course, why ya ask?
"
"nevermind"

I go outside and pull up a drink crate in the shade, and savor this southern delicacy.  I chased it with Coke.  It feels like I have been out of the south a looooong time and I have to reprogram my brain.

A 30ish black guy I saw lingering around the store comes over to talk to me.  He has a scar above his right eye, with a indentation.  "damn what happened to this guy?" I ask myself.

"how are ya"

"pretty good, so watcha doin haingin around a store all morning"

"waitin on 12 o' clock, so I can buy a beer"

It is Sunday in the south, and in many places, you are not allowed to sell beer till after church is out.

His name is James and he is very talkative.  Not one time was I asked to repeat myself.  Like I said, back home again.

"look here, I gotta get going",  Then I thought about Don and the wino on the coast, "but before I do, here's ya a dollar to buy ya a beer."

James responded "ain't gonna lie, when it hits 12, I ain't gonna be walkin in the store, I'm gonna be doin this heah," as he strikes a jog for a few steps in a demonstration.

The last I saw of James, he was talking to a friend with a boat, that was on his way to the lake.  I left the store thinking I just made my last gas stop.




















      James in the white T shirt, standing at side of the pumps.

The ride across Mississippi was routine.  I stopped for chicken nuggets at a McDonalds in Meridan.  The dry climate out west spoiled me.  I am struggling in the humidity, and I contemplate riding without the Roadcrafter the last 150 miles.

I-20 takes me to Alabama, and I cross the state line in a place called Cuba.  The only time I pass through Cuba, is when I'm on the way to somewhere else.

I take US 80 east.  I'm in the last 100 miles home now.

The morning has given way to afternoon as I ride through my home state.  I come through Demopolis and think of Leah (waitress in Calif) and wonder just how close to her house I am. 
  
Green.  How I missed it.  Trees, bushes, grass and pastures.  Everything is green.  Creeks and rivers everywhere, fresh water in abundance.  It was good to be home.

Through Uniontown, Browns and Selma I ride.  Places I have been through lots of times, but this time it's different.  This time it is at the end of long tour.  

In Selma, I take SR 14 East.  This route will bring me in. SR 14 is rural, a road that is deep in my consciousness.  I once rode my Honda 70 to Selma on 14, just because I wanted to see what was there.   I thought about that ride as I rode along, passing the houses of friends.  I ALWAYS wanted to make this ride in from the west, at the end of a cross country ride.  For years I would ride west on 14, wondering was out beyond the horizon.  To ride west and not stop till I reached the Pacific Ocean.  I would buzz along on my CL 70 and think "maybe one day."  

It feels good to accomplish something you've always wanted to do.  I was glowing as I rode that last 40 miles on SR 14.

Autaugaville is quiet when I glide through.  I obey the speed limit.  It would very unnerving to get a ticket 15 miles from home.

Carl Wells' house sits right on 14, but I can see he is not home.  

Traffic picks up east of Autaugaville.  Always does.  I remain patient, too close to home to do something foolish, so I am extra cautious.

















         Home at last.  SR 14 entering Prattville, west side of town.


I enter the city limits and stop at the light at 14 and US 82.  You have to watch for log trucks, no matter what color light you have.

The images of the ride just completed flash across my mind.  It was a great tour.  Another lifetime of memories garnered in just a few short weeks.
Down Washington Street, then up Wetumpka to my neighborhood.  I turn left on Primrose and see my son's Tacoma in the driveway, waiting for my return.  I coast down the driveway into my garage at 2:38pm having covered 416 miles for the day, and 7,897 for the trip.  I said a silent prayer for my safe return, before I got off the bike.

My son, his girlfriend, and wife bring me in, and the stories begin.

I spent the next couple of hours unwinding.  I left my bags on the ST.  Don't feel like unloading right now.

I programmed the CD jukebox, and listened to the songs I had been singing for the last 8,000 miles.  

Late that afternoon, I was throwing Chris batting practice in our cage, while a home cooked meal was being prepared inside. A scene that has been carried out since he was 8 years old.  Some things never change.


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Epilogue
I spent the next few days resting.  I came home on a Sunday and did not have to return to work till the following Friday.  I slept late, cut grass, caught up on mail, and returned to running.

I went by the fire station and thanked everyone for their support and picked up my mail.

I only gained 2 lbs on vacation.  I was delighted.

The only 4 states my ST and I have not visited are Alaska, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Hawaii.

I changed the oil in the ST.  I have another major tour to the Canadian Maritimes in 2 months, I don't know how I will ever get ready.
I will make updates to the favorite road list soon, this trips added a few.  I also will update a few other pages, about my bike and maintenance before officially closing this trip out. I will also update and edit the intro page for Amber Waves, now that I've had more time for relfection.  Stay tuned. 

I began work on this journal, and finished it on July 19th.  Writing it was fun, but time consuming, but now my trip is recorded for all posterity.  I wonder what my son and grandson will think of me when they read this long after I am gone?  I hope it gives them a better understanding of the person I was.  I record my trips for me, to have something when I am rocking on some porch, because I know, my life is at its peak RIGHT NOW, and I want to capture some of it.  But somewhere out in desert, I thought about someone reading this 40 or 50 years from now.  Hmmmmmmmm. 

I hope y'all liked my story, and if you have any comments, good or bad, then drop me a note.

Cabot Trail, here I come!
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