48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today: 440 – Total Miles: 10,013 – Average: 263.5 (travel days)
9:15am-7:15pm(9hrs.) (moving back into Eastern Time)
GULF PORT, MS to ATLANTA, GA
(-staying at an EconoLodge-) MS,FL,AL,GA (42/48)
– TURNING THE 4TH AND LAST CORNER – TOPPING 10,000 MILES!! – A CONVERSATION WITH AN OFFICER! –
(Off on the side of the road, somewhere between Montgomery, AL and Atlanta, GA – perhaps near mile marker 259 – I began the uh, conversation, with…)
“Do you know what the fine is for going 30 miles per hour over the speed limit in these here parts, son?”
I took off my helmet then. And replied with,
“Respectfully, sir. But if you notice the grey on the sideburns I might be old enough to be your father.”
I tried to manage a smile while looking up at his crisply ironed blue shirt, somewhat sweated on the edges in the afternoon heat and humidity. He wasn’t amused.
He repeated his question. Then, without waiting for a reply, said,
“You’re not from these here parts, are you boy?”
“N-n-n-no, sir,” I stammered.
“Where exactly ARE you from, boy?”
“Pennsylvania.” I said.
“Oh, so, you’se a YANKEE then?”
“Let me see your license, boy,” he bellowed, “if you HAVE one for this thing, and an owner’s card.”
I fumbled to get the paperwork he had requested.
The cars and trucks were whizzing by on the highway. Occasionally one would slow down and I noticed ma and pa and little MarySue look over at the goings-on and “Tsk-tsk” to themselves about the commie-hippie-punk motorcyclist with the dew-rag just pulled over to the side of the road.
The officer took the said paperwork back to his car for computer reference or something. He shortly came back to the Shadow, Karen, and me, who were baking in the afternoon sun. He was perspiring himself and with clipboard in hand came right up to me…
“You gonna be around these parts long, boy?” he snorted, badge glinting into my eye from the sunshine.
“No, sir, we’re just passing through.”
“What’s that fancy sign on the back of your rig sayin’?”
“Oh, that’s just sayin’ that we’re on a trip around the country and touching all 48 contiguous states.”
“Contigu-WHAT, boy?? Are you making fun of America???”
“NO, SIR,” I shouted over the belching of a passing truck full of hogs. “It’s just that all in one trip we’re trying to go through each of the 48 states.”
He put his yellow police pad down as I continued.
“Yes, and this is the 38th day on the road and we only have two more days to go. We just passed 10,000 miles today.”
With this his features seemed to have softened, he got on his police phone and made a call to his superiors. Then he turned to me and said, “Well, I’ve talked things over with my boss,” and then he reached into his pocket and took out his wallet. THEN he riffled through his wallet and took out $50 and handed it to me saying, “Well, we’re so darn impressed by what you’re doing we’re giving you $50 out of the community fund we have and letting you know you can go as fast as you want through the rest of this hea’ great state of Georgia!”
We thanked him mightily and headed off smiling down the highway…
Well, if you’ve been wondering what I’ve been thinking about for all those sun-baked hours on the road, you have a pretty good indication from the daydream fantasy above what some of it is.
Also, among many other things large and small, I recite the hour or so worth of poems I have memorized in years past. (The inside of my helmet has had some pretty darn good recitals!) While riding on the back and when not taking pictures, Karen is often times thinking about the great scrapbook she wants to put together about the trip.
Once again, after looking out the motel room windows this morning in Gulf Port, MS, we knew our decision to stop last night was the correct one. It was grey clouding all over, but at least it wasn’t raining, and the sky showed promise for brightening up.
We were hungry for more of those Waffle House waffles, but decided to get on down the road a piece before having some. We left a little after 9am, and I was glad Steve wasn’t on-line to scold us about the relatively late leaving.
Just south of Mobile, AL we turned north on what was our fourth and final corner. We skirted in and out of and between showers all day long. Must have been six or seven of them. But the worst was just as we were leaving Montgomery, AL. It was on the interstate through town in a whole crowd of cars when the splashdown began. A few patters at first, and I thought, “Uh-oh!” and then the constant downpour. It was right in the midst of the 70mph traffic and all of a sudden my visibility was down to a few feet. I quickly handed my sunglasses back to Karen and just as quickly popped up on the pegs so I could see over the now-water-blotted windshield. Rodes like that for a while calling on all my strength and experience from such situations – though truthfully none of the past times were amongst so many cars and big trucks. It lasted maybe five minutes, but was pretty scary, especially when I noticed the curve in the roadway and had to maneuver through that.
After most every gas stop, I always forget to put my earplugs back in. (Many cyclists use the things to mute the noise constancy of the passing traffic and the engine roar.) Then I have to pull off to the side, take off my helmet, and put them in. At one time today, I was doing so, and leaned back to Karen and joked, “You know, we’d save an awful lot of time every day if you’d just remember to remind me about putting in my earplugs!” We got a good laugh out of that.
At 10:30am we got our Waffle House stop in.
Rode for a while today behind a pretty stinky trash truck. Ugh! That was not pleasant riding.
I just hate it when I’m hurrying Karen along to get on the bike and then I realize I don’t even have the bike in gear yet!
We worked hard at not missing State Route 21 off of I-85 toward Atmore. It was only about 8 miles down that road that we tapped Florida at exactly noon for our 41st state Karen took a picture of me by the welcome sign and we returned back to the big highway. On the way back we met a man at a gas station from Allentown, PA. This fellow said he had inherited a 1934 Harley trike! It was all rusty now but he was spending a mint on E-bay getting parts to fix it up, and he hoped to ride it one day.
Also in Atmore we came upon a health food store. I had mentioned just yesterday that one of the things I missed most from home was some Soydream (something that tastes like ice cream, but is made of non-dairy soy). This place had a delicious confection of non-dairy chocolate and nuts and vanilla Soydream. It was great, and we each relished and savored the taste of the ice cream-like treat!
At a gas station just 20 miles north of Montgomery, just as I was walking toward the office to pay (one of the rare stations that didn’t have credit card pumps), I saw a man leaning against the front wall there. I noticed that he and I both noticed a rather nice looking lady in hot pink short shorts walk by. I looked up at him as I passed and said, “Nothing like hot pink, eh?” He laughed, and said with a big Morgan Freeman-ish smile, “Just something to look at.”
We stopped into gas-up at one point about 60 miles shy of 400 miles pretty darned tired – I pointed to the name of the station, and said, “That’s what we need about now.” The gas company was named “JET-PEP”!
By the end of the day, my stomach problem (guessing it was some kind of virus that ran its course) seemed to have died away completely. Happy about that, and I could tell the rest of my body was, too, as total energy and spirits returned.
As we entered Georgia we “lost” another hour because of entering the Eastern Daylight Savings Time. (Now just WHERE do you suppose we lost that hour? I looked all over for it, but couldn’t find it anywhere. In fact, I spent so much time searching for it, I had to set my watch an hour earlier when I was done looking.)
We’re both feeling the adrenaline-effect over the excitement about finishing the trip. That adrenaline is seeping into our muscles and our minds. However, not enough of that adrenaline is seeping into our butts, which seem to be aching more and more earlier and earlier in the day.
When we got done crunchwrapping at Taco Bell we headed off for the EconoLodge near Stone Mountain. Karen wondered if I had seen the policeman sitting on the side of the road with the detector pointing in our direction as we entered Georgia. (I hadn’t!)
We had one of those long laughing fits as we were leaving the Taco Bell. Karen’s face, concentrating hard on being able to get her leg up and over the motorcycle so late in the day, and as tired as we were, was so set in determination and her lips were so clenched to be able to make the effort a successful one, just struck me as really funny. And as I described it to her, she found it comical, too. We sat back on the Shadow and laughed for quite a few moments about it.
15 minutes later we were checking into the 10th motel of that chain. (Our next night at an EconoLodge is free!! And there just happens to be a few in Roanoke, VA, our goal for tomorrow.)