When you’re dumb enough to plan a 4,000 mile ride in early December, you have to expect some changes to your itinerary, even if you start out in deep south Texas.
(Be sure to click on each photo to see a larger version.)
Most of the ride was along the rim of the Gulf of Mexico, as I wanted to see an old friend in Miami. When I say “old”, I mean we hadn’t seen each other in 48 years! I also dropped by my son’s home in Orlando to spend some time with him and his family, but the rest of the trip was to go to Gainesville, GA, which is up in the northern mountains, then on to Nashville. I got as far as Gainesville to see two other old friends, but the weather forecast was iffy to go to Nashville. I called my nephew Paul (also a rider) and expressed my apologies, then headed straight south from Gainesville. Good decision - Nashville had two inches of snow.
I’ve ridden the back way to Houston many times, enjoying the scenery on the coast. Though I’ve been in the seacoast town of Palacios before (and explored how the Vietnamese settled in the area), I found this photo by accident. By the way - the locals pronounce it “Pal ah shus.”
Best day of the thirteen day ride? The segment from Houston to New Orleans. After dinner with my daughter Trang, I headed out of Houston the next morning to Galveston, and took the ferry over to the Bolivar Peninsula. Pretty day - warm, with a nice breeze - perfect day to stay on the byways, ride through smalls towns and cross the Sabine River into Louisiana, ride another ferry near Cameron and continue along the Creole Nature Trail. Its an interesting mix of little shrimper villages and petrochemical plants, with oil rigs on the horizon out in the Gulf of Mexico.
New Orleans was great in that I made a new friend - and I wish Ken Bopp lived closer. We enjoyed dinner together so much that we decided to share breakfast the next day, before I headed on. Thanx for the great conversation, Ken.
After fighting the horrendous New Orleans traffic, I took the old way into Mississippi. Nice views - I can see why people would want to live here.
The hardest day? From Statesboro, Georgia, up through South Carolina (so I could add another state to my rider’s map of states I’ve ridden in), then back into Georgia to Gainesville. It rained all the time and the temperatures were in the 40s. Wish I could have ridden those roads in the sunshine - it seemed like pretty country.
The most boring day? The day after I changed my route from Nashville and went south. I rode the Super Slab (which I seldom do) from Marianna, Florida, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Except for getting caught in a 1 ½ hour traffic jam caused by a bad accident, it was a day for the motocycle’s pistons to go up and down a lot - not much else happened.
What was the best part of the trip? Hard to say. I truly enjoyed the five hours I spent with my old friend Jim. You see, his circumstances are unusual as he is in prison in Miami. I found it was possible to laugh while inside a prison. It was a bit amazing that we had no trouble finding things to talk about after all those years. Thanx for the renewal of an old friendship, Jim.
While in Miami, I went by the old family homestead in Hialeah. If it hadn’t been for the cement leading up to what used to be a car port, I doubt I would have recognized it.
As always, I enjoy time with my son. We always like to escape onto the balcony, smoke cigars, drink good whiskey and solve the problems of the world. Though my visit was shortened by a family tragedy, I had one night with Keith - just the two of us to talk.
And, it was great to see Jeff and Corky, two good friends I knew from my law enforcement days. They were in different agencies and had never met before - yet they live about ten minutes from each other. A lot of “war stories” (and probably a few fibs) were told, but we had a great reunion.
Finally, there was a lot of nostalgia as I wandered the much-changed campus of my alma mater, Florida Southern College. Of course there was change - what did I expect? I hadn’t been there in over thirty years.
I also had a chance to cruise the old neighborhoods in and around Brunswick, GA, where we lived in the late 70s and early 80s. Our old home hasn’t changed all that much except for the trees having grown and a new fence added.
The extremes? It was 86 degrees in Miami and I got a bit sweaty trying to punch through the traffic. It was colder than a mother-in-law’s heart at 36 degrees when I set out in the fog from Statesboro, Georgia. I found several eateries that I really enjoyed, including Zydeco’s in Luling (New Orleans) and thanx to my Goldwing rider friend Ken Bopp for taking me there. JB’s German Bakery in Corpus Christi, Texas, has pastries to die for, and breakfast at Shy Katz in Galveston is a must. Of course, I also put up with the usual fast food stuff at the usual hamburger joints.
The bike just sang for me the whole trip, but I could have been nicer to her. By the time I took the ferry back to Galveston, she was one dirty motorcycle. I owe you a wash, good and faithful steed.
What was the worst part of the trip? Having it end. I was happy to see my bride again, the home fires beckoned, and I was anxious to see my other daughter, Ái Nhân.
Yet the last hours of this trip were spent planning the next long ride.