South by Southeast: Mississippi to Florida

Day 3, August 7

The humidity was so bad, my glasses fogged up when I walked out of the motel to pack the bike. After a little time, the fog disappeared, and I pulled out to head southeast.

For a poor state, Mississippi has some mighty fine roads. Four-lane divided highways with smooth pavement. In fact, Louisiana had some nice roads too, as did Arkansas. Some of those state transportation folks from Ohio should come down here to learn a thing or two about highway maintenance and construction.

Aug-ride-0042

The day was pretty much one of travel. Thoughts ran through my head like a penny arcade. The landscape was beautiful, a treat for the eye. But in travels like this, you will often see things you don’t want to see. Maybe make you feel uncomfortable.

When I finally reached Mobile, Alabama, I needed gas, food and a restroom. Not necessarily in that order. I spotted a McDonalds in the near downtown area, pulled in, parked and went inside. It was nice and cool. The place was packed.

With the first order of business out of the way, I ordered my food and waited for it to be delivered to the counter. With food and drink in hand, I found a place to sit near the front window—it gave me an advantage point to keep an eye on the bike. There was a guy sitting near me like he was waiting for someone. Another guy sat in a booth with his head in his hands. Another seemed to be just wandering back and forth. It finally dawned on me that these people were homeless or on the street. They were sitting in the cool of McDonalds, but it was the next scene that reinforced my observations.

Another guy walked into the place, looked down into the trash bin, pulled out a crumpled sack, and went through it. No food, but a couple of cups. He selected one of the cups and shoved the bag back into the bin. Then he walked over to the drink dispenser area, filled the cup with ice and selected a drink.

What these guys were doing was waiting for people to throw their meals into the trash and then grabbing the leftovers. Surely the McDonalds staff and management know what’s going on. The whole scene was sad. I have worked with homeless and at soup kitchens, and it has always amazed me how people sometimes survive while trying to maintain their sense of dignity.

I rode away from Mobile with a heavy heart and much on my mind. On the other side of Mobile Bay, I found gas and proceeded down I-10 towards my destination for the night. There was no opportunity to stop on the Interstate with the state line in the middle of a bridge, so a quick stop at the Welcome Center provided the photo opportunity.

Aug-ride-0048

Florida … check.

About an hour from my destination, I ran into some rain. At first I thought it would be just a little spit, but it soon turned into a downpour. I pulled over and put on the rain suit. Before getting back on the bike, I documented the conditions.

Aug-ride-0054

Down the road, the rain was heavy. I proceeded on. I was ready to get off the bike after 10 hours of riding and nearly 500 miles.

Stay tuned for more tour reports. Coming up: Georgia, South and North Carolina.

See you on the highway.

Brent

A Conversation with Zoe Cano, London

blogger-image--200477656Here in the USA, many adventure motorcyclists dream of riding outside the country, riding to some far away place, or going around the world. Of course, there are those here who believe there is more than enough to see in the USA in a lifetime.

Last year, I followed the Tweets and posts of Bonneville Adventure and found it very interesting that one rider’s goal was to ride across America on a motorcycle.

Zoe Cano, of London, England, had a dream—to return to the United States and see the country by motorcycle. Her bucket list item became an obsession, making choices, establishing priorities, and planning for four years to make it a reality. In the summer of 2012, she packed her bags, flew to the states, picked up a Triumph Bonneville T100, and started out across the country on a ride of a lifetime.

Along the way, she hit all the towns and places she planned, met friends along the way, found adventure, hung out with cowboys, and breathed in the greatness of the countryside and out of the way places.

Upon reaching her destination, she turned in her Bonneville, and flew back to her home in London, where she is working on a book about fulfilling one’s dreams.

blogger-image--1280576673

Here’s our conversation:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can read about her adventures on her web site, Bonneville Adventure.

Thanks for listening.

See you on the highway.

Brent

A Conversation with Alison DeLapp

After riding through the National Parks of the northwest, and then riding as far north in Alaska as possible, Alison DeLapp decided that her next big adventure was to ride south as far as possible, Terra del Fuego, the southern most point of South America.

img_11923

Her motorcycle adventure took about four and a half months from her start in California. She found other adventurers to ride with along the way, but spent 25 days riding by herself.

She describes her travels and how she prepared for her adventure.

20100603_alisonklr_0043

Here is our conversation:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can read more about Alison’s travels on her web site, Alison’s Wanderland.

Thanks for listening.

See you on the highway.

Brent

 

 

 

 

2012 Moto Guzzi National Rally

Buena Vista, Virginia

There are several reasons for attending the 2012 Moto Guzzi National Owners Club Rally, even though I do not own a coveted Italian-made Moto Guzzi. I was looking for a place to travel to, to visit with and make new friends, and to check out Moto Guzzis. Mostly, I was looking for a few stories to tell, and I found a few in my travels.

Typically, I choose a route that is non-Interstate, but admit that some slabbing is often required, as was this adventure. I won’t go into all the turn-by-turn route details, but will comment on one section.

West Virginia is a motorcycling paradise, and my planned route included US 60 from Charleston, WV, to the east side of the state where the highway connects with I-64 into Virginia. When I was calculating my time and speed, I thought I might be able to average 45 on that curvy, mountainous section of US 60. Wrong. 30-35 mph is probably more like it. By the time I exited the mountains into flatter countryside, my shoulders were aching from the back and forth motion of riding the twisties. It was like a roller coaster.

MG_Rally-10

The rally site was a city park which allows camping. Lots of space for tents and a few RVs. Rally organizers say 316 people attended the event. After checking in, I picked a spot along the creek and set up the tent. Afterwards, I went looking for some of the guys from the SW Ohio Club. Later, I learned they would not be there until the next day.

It was hot. Temperatures were in the 90s and only a forecast of cooler nights made it bearable.

Motorcycle rallies are great for making new friends and finding old ones. As I was looking for my Ohio friends, I met a man from Peoria, Illinois. His name was Paul. I am from from across the river in Pekin, Illinois, we had some common ground. Turns out his riding buddy, also in attendance was one of my classmates, graduating in the Class of 1968, Pekin Community High School. I barely remember Steve Bruce because he only attended PCHS his senior year, but 44 years after graduating, we’re both at the same rally. Want more coincidence? He now lives in Cincinnati. What a small world!

MG_Rally-13

The food was catered, and it was pretty good. I didn’t see or hear anyone complaining about lack of food. That’s always a good thing for a bunch of hungry motorcyclists.

Of course, there were plenty of Moto Guzzi motorcycles. It seemed that just about every model was represented—new and old and a few with character.

MG_Rally-23

The first night actually turned out to be a pleasant experience for tenting. It cooled off sufficiently. The next day, Friday, started out as a furnace. When a park maintenance worker told me that it was already in the 90s, at 10 a.m., and headed to over 100. I decided to move on. I just can’t take the heat. I’d rather be creating my own breeze. I packed the tent. Loaded the bike, and departed Buena Vista on the Blue Ridge parkway, headed for Washington D.C.

MG_Rally-52 

There are two more stories to tell from Buena Vista. Stay tuned.

Brent