Day 19
June 22nd, 2007
Holiday Motel                                                   
Cape Giradeau, Missouri     


Morning at last came to the Cape.  I was awake before my alarm, anxious to get on the road and home.  I wanted to be home by 4 pm for church, followed by an evening out for supper.  To accomplish that I needed a early start, and to ride steady.

I started loading the 1300 just after sun rise.  I wanted to leave this flop house, more than any place I'd ever been.  I didn't like the room, I didn't like the smells, I didn't like the scenery, and I didn't the people.  It gave me the creeps when I pulled around to the office to drop off the key.  There was no one at the window so I used the night drop, that was a good thing.

It was early on a Saturday morning, so not much was going on in Cape Giradeau when I left the parking lot and made my way back to I-55 South.  The air was thick in humidity, "I know I'm not far from Alabama now."  I was good on gas for awhile so I skipped filling up to put some miles down.  I'm back in a part of the country where con stores are more common than a cold.

I booted up the GPS, today's route is not complicated- I tabbed the "home" icon, and in a couple of seconds my route was displayed.  Tabbing home on the last day of a 8,000 mile ride is both rewarding and fulfilling.

The first few miles of the morning I spent thinking about what a great tour this had been.  In terms of pure scenery and riding it was one of the best.  Crater Lake and Monument Valley were simply awesome.  I carved up some really nice roads, and it was good to see my friends in the Hotel and meeting Don Feyma.  Now it was time to just ride and make my way home.  Nothing fancy, no elaborate route changes, or roundabout navigation.  Going home the simple way.  

The interstate parallels the Mississippi River all the way to New Orleans, but I was only going as far as Memphis.  I put the Honda on a indicated 80 and proceeded to knock down the miles.  The GPS says I'm actually doing 75.  I guess a optimistic speedo is a good thing.

I passed a HD rider in the warm humid air.  He was wet with sweat.  His feet were splayed out on highway pegs, tank top, German helmet, loud pipes, on some kind of cruiser, maybe a fat boy.  I don't think he was riding far.
I rode south into Arkansas, I'd forgotten 55 nicks this corner of the Delta on the way south.  Most of the surrounding land in the area is in the flood plain of the Great River, and as a result is mostly agricultural.
Not wanting to stop anywhere near Memphis, I exited at Blytheville for gas and my morning break.  I topped the ST off and went inside for a drink to wash down my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It was getting really hot, and I had trouble finding any shade so didn't hang around too long.

Over the years I've come to know Memphis, Chattanooga and Nashville.  They are the crossroad cities for me.  From where I live, I can only start a trip west or north.  If I go south or east I run into water in about 200 miles.  If I'm to escape Alabama I must go west or north, thus Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga are gateways.  Of the 3, Memphis is by far my least favorite.  What was once a great southern city has been reduced to a crime infested, slum looking pimple on Tennessee.  I hate coming through it.

But I had no choice today.  I-55 joins I-40 in Arkansas, from there I crossed the Mississippi River and began the final stretch home.  The Zumo routed me slightly differently then my normal route, and I'd have to say it was better.  I usually go the high bridge into downtown, but this time I took what I call the low bridge, and spent more time on the 240 (now I sound like a Californian.  They never say "take I-5 north and exit to 580."  No, they say, "take THE I-5 to THE 580.  Making it sound like they are exclusive roadways and interstates.  I reckon I need to quit spending so much time out there).  

While crossing the river I looked out over it, at how wide and deep it is, and recalled the little creek I saw back in Minnesota.

The worst part of Memphis was coming up- riding out the south side on U.S. 78.  Nothing like a traffic jam in a ghetto.  Thankfully, I didn't have any back ups on this day, but always a next time.

Things quickly change for the better when you enter Mississippi.  The road turns 4 lane divided, and the slums of Memphis are left behind.  The 1300 settled in on 80 mph and the riding was good.  It was nice to see the bright greens and thick grass of my homeland.  The drought has turned some things brown, but still a along away from out west.

Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis, is a typical southern town.  I've been through here so many times I can't count them all.  I left 78, rode into town and stopped at the Waffle House.  I usually eat at the WH in Pelham, but I can't this time.  I'll be there around 3 pm, not a good time to eat.  So I decided to eat in Tupelo, and ride hard to get home.

After being out of the south almost 3 weeks, especially up north and out west, one thing immediately struck me when I stepped in the door.  The patrons here were a racially mixed crowd.   Close to half and half, and no one thought anything of it.  You don't see that outside the south.  Not that other regions are prejudice, just not many black folks in the Western States, Mid West, or New England.  Outside of the large cities of those areas (which are almost ALL predominantly black by large numbers) you don't see a 50-50 crowd.  I guess what I'm trying to say is in Hutchinson, Minnesota a town about the size of Tupelo, the lunch time crowd will 100% Anglo, most every day.  But in any restaurant in Tupelo, lunch will be a racially mixed crowd.  

I took a seat at the counter.  A black lady, about my age, came for my order.  She was on the plump side, and had on a Waffle House uniform of pin stripes, and nurse cap.

She asked, "Watcha gonna have sweetie?"  The lady was charismatic, down home, and just plain fun to talk to.  I could tell all that in just 5 seconds.  One thing I've discovered in my travels, people are people and with just a little coaxing they will open up and tell you most anything you want to know. 

"look here baby, bring me some sweet tea, and the grilled pork chops.  And just so ya know, I'm glad to be home."

"Where ya been?"

"Man I've been in so many places last few weeks, like California, Montana, Arizona."

"So you hada good trip?"

"yeah I did baby"

"well I reckon we can make sure you're taken care of, seein you was gone so long and no sweat tea or grits"
The sweet tea and pork chops were good, but not good for me.

I called my son, who was at home to pick up a few more things to take back to Mobile, to remind him about the garage.  "Door up?"  "Yeah, momma already called me on that."  "ok just checking, I should be home around 4 so be ready for church, and then Mexican tonight!"  "Sounds good, looking forward to ya gettin home."

Time to ride.  I got back on the road and made for home.  I wanted to stop for pictures at the Alabama state line welcome sign, but somebody already beat me to it and I didn't feel like waiting.  Never knew that was such a big deal, "must be hangin out over on Uncle Phil's web site" I said to myself with a smile.

When I get this close to home its hard to keep the ST in check.  He smells the barn, or as I should correctly say, the "garage."  But I was nearing the place where I saw a SUV get a ticket 2 years ago, and that kept things legal.
The by pass around Jasper was long and hot, and when I finished it I was thirsty.  I stopped at a store and slammed down a lemonade Gatorade.  I called Debbie to let her know I was in Jasper and I'd be home in 2 hours or so.  She was working her part time job at a local dress shop.  She works there couple days a month, I accuse of just doing it for the store discount.  

U.S. 78 into Birmingham is the same old ride.  Nothing new to report about it, and I still dislike it.

I shot through Birmingham like a sailor late for a date with Miss July.  I could've turn the zumo off if I wanted, I knew the freeway system and how to get home, but I left it on anyway.

When I arrived in Birmingham the circle was complete.  I was back on the highway I took out all those miles ago.  What did I learn about myself this tour?  That my past is a part of me, it has brought me to this spot, at this time.  I saw so many things from previous tours on this trip, but it still felt like the first time in almost everyway.  Each tour is different, and even though the people or places might be the same, the experiences of this particular ride will make it different.

I-65 home was fast and furious.  I don't know of a single state with more scofflaws then us.  Nobody pays attention to the 70 mph speed limit.  I just followed everybody else.  Past the Waffle House in Pelham I usually eat at, and south to the promised land.

"I'm gonna take the Verbena exit and come into Prattville from CR 57, and see Debbie on the way home."  I took the exit and spent the last 24 miles of the tour on my favorite local road.  CR 57 is a nice uninterrupted run of 24 miles to downtown Prattville.  I ride it all the time.  It was only fitting I was ending a long tour on it.

The county road takes me past the farms and land I love so much.  I've been riding this road for 34 years.  No curves to lean or anything like that, just a nice ride.

I entered downtown, and went by the dress shop to see Debbie.  She saw me pull in and rushed out to see me.  We had a nice reunion.  "Dang baby, good to be home!"  Since leaving Colorado, the tour had been good, but anti climatic.  "Just come straight to the church when you get off, Chris and I will see ya there."  "Ok"

The last 2 miles took me out of the business district, and to my neighborhood.  Up the long hill on 6th street, that kills me on my bike or running, and then the left turn onto my street.  Everything looks nice as I turn in the driveway and enter the garage, my lights shining on the wall.  I parked next to the RT and shut the Honda down, after a 531 mile day, and 8,040 for the trip.  I said a prayer for my safe return and went inside to see Chris.

It was good to see my son again, I had missed him the last 4 weeks.

I had to rush to get a shower so I left my things on the 1300.  "I'll unload tomorrow."  I barely had time to dry off before I found myself at Mass with my family.  After church we went to our favorite Mexican place and had a nice time.  I was glad to be home. 

                                         Then he was told:
                                         Remember what you have seen
                                         because everything forgotten
                                         returns to the circling winds
                                           From a Navajo Wind Chant


I took Chris to Mobile in a borrowed pick up truck the following day.  Less then 18 hours after a cross country ride, I was in a pick up laying down another 400.  But Chris is living in Mobile and doing well.

A few days later, while washing and cleaning the 1300, I noticed a scratch down low on the fairing.  Somewhere on this trip I must have ran over something.  It was my 1300's first serious nick.

My training is still way off.  I'm currently in a slump and have been since my return.  I'm hoping it gets better.
Don Cortez finished his home remodel and currently the house is in escrow with a buyer.  They are moving near Yosemite. 
Jerrol Olson under went another surgery not long after my departure.  It went well and he is actively recovering.

Don Feyma sold his 1100 2 weeks after my visit, and now riding a Suzuki V Strom.

My nephews wedding date is August 11, and our small family is very excited.

This journal took longer to complete than the tour, by a wide margin.  Over 1 month, although it is not perfect I did the best I could.  Like I say, I'm probably a better rider then writer.  Thanks for y'alls patience. 

Comments?  Send me a email  Firfytr@aol.com