The Reindeer Ride
December 1996 & January 1997
From: Larry Fears
Well I've been back for a few days now and I am starting to feel like a human being again so I figured it was time to write up a trip report. First let me say that this is bound to be brutally long so if so inclined please delete now. Secondly I'm not much into recounting route numbers or the like unless they work into the story so don't be too harsh on me. :-)
The impetus for this trip began as a desire to cap off a year that has been the best motorcycling year of my life and the worst. I've had more fun this year at rallies and IBMWR get togethers than I thought possible. I managed to amass almost 25k miles without a single one being commuting. At the same time I was off the ride May, June and July because of my unscheduled dismount on the Blue Ridge. The accident was an awakening experience for me and marks the first time in my adult life that I seriously considered giving up this passion. As you can see, in the end I decided that a life with out my 2 wheeled steed was not a real life. Added to all of this was the loss of my most excellent riding buddy, Dave "Huge" Keuch. As time goes on I think about him more and more and miss his presence in a way that is hard to describe. I take solace in my belief that he is still with me and watching out for me just like he did when he was alive and among us.
Anyway all of the above led to my decision to join the Reindeer Riders on their trek across the south. From the get go I decided that while I wanted to get lots of stamps that it was to be all about meeting and hanging with fellow riders. Yes, I'm doing the Ironbutt Nat'l Park stamp thing but I decided that as long as I got at least one stamp from every state I entered I would be happy.
Day 1 (Dec. 20th)
This day turned out to be the worst day of the trip. The night before DC experienced it's first snow storm and getting to the slack pack at Carol Keuch's house took me 2 1/2 hours. As someone who spent alot of years in the Chicago area I will never understand why people get so freaked about a little white stuff that isn't even sticking. But the by the time I got home it was apparent that the real challenge was going to lie in avoiding the ice and fending off the cold. As I lay down to sleep I decide I would wait until first light to leave so I could see the ice patches. Turned out to save my life. Unfortunately I had made the mistake of taking a nap the previous afternoon so sleep proved elusive. About 4:30 a.m. I gave up and decided to get up and turn on the weather channel. Nasty and cold was all it said. A little while later one of my roommates got up and asked me if I was still leaving. He just didn't get it. I had to go. Greg was expecting to meet me and Arno and I had planned a surprise meeting. I didn't want the surprise to be that I didn't show up. So about 7:30 a.m. I set out. Why so late? I had forgotten to put the charger on the bike and at 19 degrees the bike didn't want to catch. It finally wheezed into life and I was off. The trip was pretty uneventful except I was coooooolllllllddddd. I had on everything I could think of and I was still freezing. FWIW, I believe the Gerbing Jacket saved me from hypothermia. But my hands were freezing. This day had me wishing I had pulled some money out of savings to purchase those heated gloves. My feet? Useless blocks of ice that could barely shift and work the brake. All I could think was that it HAS to get warmer the further south I got so I entered my ROAD ZONE and concentrated on getting south. Right away I discovered what the cold does to a K bike's gas mileage as I greeted the state of North Carolina by running out of gas I rolled over the border. Luckily I had decided to carry a MRI fuel bottle of gas as it saved my butt many times on this trip. By the time I reached South Carolina it had reached 29 degrees and I wasn't having any fun at all. Shortly before the FL border it warmed up to about 39 degrees and I can tell you that after all day in the 20's it felt down right balmy. This was short lived as the sun went down quickly and it was back into the 20's. This is the first winter I have had metal in my arm and I swear it had frost on it. Agony was the only way to describe how my wrist felt as I pulled into that Motel 6 where I was to meet Arno. 762 miles in 11 1/2 hours. At the time I thought this was good time but was to discover later I could smoke this time. I got to meet Arno in person and we went over to the Shoney's for some Scarf and barf. I was famished and polished off many plates of the all you can eat seafood. Little did I know this was to be the theme of the trip as we ate our way across the south. :-)
Day 2 ( Dec 21)
I had arranged to meet Greg at the motel at 6 a.m. sharp so I was up bright and early and packed. We decided we had to surprise Greg so we had Arno walk up to Greg. I wish I could
have taken a picture of his face. Shortly thereafter the 3 of us set off. It was cold again but as soon as the sun came up it began to get warmer. It was at this point that I discovered that you southern boys have no tolerance for the cold. Everytime I commented on how much it was warming up all I got was moans from Arno and Greg. We pretty much followed I-10 towards our destination of Baton Rouge with a few side trips led by Greg for the stamps. I was having a blast and by the time we reached MS it had warmed up completely and the cold was over for the remainder of the trip. As we reached New Orleans Greg led us to yet another stamp and my book was filling up nicely. Then I got to witness first hand the maniacal stamp mode that Greg can slip into without any warning. It was at the Jean Lafete park. Greg walks out of the visitors center and wryly smiles that there is another stamp about 30 miles away and we only have 45 minutes to get there. The kicker is that we have to take a ferry to get there. Now I'm game for anything so we mount up. The ferry isn't there when we arrive and by the time we get on and over to the other side I'm wondering how we are going to make it. As we make our last turn we see the sign that says 6 miles to the park. The problem was it was 3 minutes til 5. Pretty soon Arno and Greg have wicked up their oilheads. I crack open the throttle on my K bike and WFO I get my bike up to 120 mph and Greg and Arno were still pulling away from me. After a few turns I got to test out my non-abs equipped bike as I try to get her down from 100 mph + in time to avoid running into the back of Greg. As we pull up to the visitor's center I wonder about my sanity, more so after I discover that I am grinning ear to ear and having the time of my life. :-) BTW, all of this and the center was closed. Oh well, thus are the fortunes of stamp hunting. Off to Baton Rouge and we meet up with Jon at the Motel 6. Another big meal and off to sleep the sleep of the road weary.
Well, this only into day 2 and it is already really long so I'll end it here and pick up tomorrow.
Day 3 (Dec. 22)
The day dawns early and as I've decided I wouldn't be the one on this trip to oversleep I am up and packed early. Jon and Greg find this amusing and come out and take pictures of me thus proving I CAN awake before the crack of noon when I am so inclined. The day starts pretty uneventful until right after breakfast we come out to find some ominous looking clouds. Yes, you guessed it, our first day with "Rainman" Diaz and what happens? The skies open up. But it was warm so I found I could live with it. Greg leads us to some more parks and stamps and it was at the second stamp stop that I confirmed by belief that I am a klutz as I fall on my butt while dismounting my ride. Lots of laughs but luckily no one had their camera handy so it lives on only in our memories. About this time it is decided we have had enough of interstates so we spend the remainder of our trip to the Senner's on Texas back roads. This whole trip marked many firsts for me as a rider. Today I discovered that with TX back road speeds of 70 mph it is possible to do sustained speeds of 100 mph. Now don't get me wrong there are plenty of places back east to get her up over 100 but you had better damn well get it up there and back down real quick if you don't want a trip to jail. Having the slowest bike in the bunch I decided to bring up the rear and as we started to wick it up I WFO thinking it would be short lived. Not to be as we buzzed along above the ton for mile after mile. It was at about 155 miles on the tank that I discovered what these speeds did to K bike gas mileage as I sputtered to a stop on the side of the road. Thank god again for that litre of fuel. Towards the end of the day I discovered the secret to keeping my spirits up was to think about that barbecue that was waiting for us in Austin. Joe and Lisa Senner were the first of many to put us up for the night and I can't say enough about there hospitality. I've only met them once before and they treated me like a long lost relative. Even giving me Dillon's bed to sleep in. As it turned out Dillon (age 3) is a fan of my favorite Sesame Street character, Ernie. As I fell asleep that night I found myself singing "Rubber Ducky you're the one...." Needless to say I slept like a baby. :-)
Day 4 (Dec. 23)
Today's destination: South Padre Island. Greg had decided to take off early so about 8 a.m. Arno and I left headed for the LBJ Natl Park. Joe Senner had directed us a way to miss the traffic that turned out to be the first of the many great motorcycle roads on this trip. It was route 1431 just north of Austin and it is killer. I surprised myself at how well I took my lines on this road although I did have one hair raiser as I screamed around a corner to find a tractor trailer in MY lane. High pucker factor as I could have touched him with my elbow. After a few more stamps we headed for Corpus Christi to get the stamp at North Padre. About 40 miles outside of Corpus the bikes sputters to a stop with only 101 miles on the tank. I pull off at the next exit and there is plenty of fuel but none the less I use my spare and it starts right up. What gives? Well I'm royally pissed by this point so I'm not paying attention to my footing as I mount up and she starts to fall over. I decide I'm NOT going to break my leg in the middle of no where Texas so I let her go. After a lot of grunting and shoving I get her back up and pop the mirror back on. About this time I start laughing as I realize that if I was one of those clean freaks with a new $16k machine I would be really pissed right now. Thankfully I'm not so I'm not. :-) Off to North Padre and one of the most beautiful beaches I ever seen. The ranger at the gate phoned ahead and they held the visitor center open long enough for me to get my stamp. I asked the ranger if he had seen another biker that day and he said "Yeah but he was better looking than you." Greg better looking than me? Boy I musta been scruffy by then. :-) I had underestimated the distance to South Padre as it was 8:30 before we pulled into the town. As Arno told you as we entered town a cop pulled him over and I did what any buddy would have done. I kept going. There are some advantages to riding with these guys with flashy fast looking bikes. :-) As we pulled up to the motel I shocked myself by being to tired to go and eat. Didn't stop me from polishing off the best onion rings I had ever tasted though.
Day 5 (Dec. 24)
Off to Del Rio. Arno was coming down with something and decided to ride alone so it was Greg, Jon and I for the whole day. Today was a day of breath taking beauty. I've never been out this way and I am stunned by the landscape. I chase Greg the whole way to Del Rio and arrive to find the visitor center closed but an envelope with stamps on the door. What a great feeling. (I think Greg is wearing off on me) We get into the motel and believe it or not Greg and Jon begin to fill the wastebasket with water to wash their bikes. These guys are nuts. I did what anyone with a 12 year old bike would do, I watched and made snide remarks. :-) By the time we got around to thinking about dinner everything was closed so another first, I had Domino's pizza on x-mas eve. :-)
Next, off to Big Bend.
Day 6 (Dec. 25)
Christmas day and I'm in Del Rio, TX. Wow!! Christmas has always meant family, friends and presents. It was a bit strange to wake up in a strange motel but I wasn't unhappy. Rather I was filled with the joy of being alive and lucky enough to have the sense to realize that unconventional path is the most fun. Arno was hacking up a lung by this time so he decided to head home. Greg, Jon and I start out on the short ride to Big Bend. As we ride I find myself pondering many things not the least of which is how a day of less than 500 miles has become a "short" day. I can remember a time not so long ago that if I did a 500 mile weekend I was proud of myself. :-) As we pull into the town of Marathon we decide to try and get some grub at the Gage motel. No dice. They are only serving dinner and then only to guests. Greg thought he had seen a cafe a ways back so we double back and as we pull into the parking lot I see a woman in her 40's stroking Greg's bike. It turns out she is from Vermont and has recently relocated to of all places, Marathon, TX. Her boyfriend is down from VT and owns several /6's. Her son who is 22 going on 50 is also down from VA. Pretty soon she says "I don't have much but if you want to come over I'll throw something together." We go over to her small house and she "Throws together" a meal fit for a king. We talk and laugh and generally revel in our new found friendship. Again I am amazed at how this bike has opened me to experiences and people I could only have dreamed of. I wonder if non-bikers realize what they are missing? As we set off Susan refused all offers of compensation saying that she believes what goes around comes around. Something to ponder. Shortly after that we make our way to Big Bend and again I am struck by the sheer enormity of the beauty. I kept expecting Clint Eastwood to come riding over a hill. It's that kinda place. We run into Mike and I'm jazzed. The Reindeer Riders are now complete. We decide it is to early to call it a day and we set off on a hair raising ride through the park. Eventually we come to the border crossing and I am struck by how little separates our 2 countries. We take turns going down to the border crossing but we decide to stay on American soil for now. Back to the lodge and a X-mas dinner of what else? Turkey and stuffing topped off with the best cobbler I had ever eaten. The lodge has great accommodations and the evening ends with the 4 of us on the porch in front of our rooms, maps open planning the next day's adventure. Life is good. :-)
Day 7 (Dec. 26)
The previous day we had decided to make Carlsbad, NM instead of Alpine. Greg was up with the birds and off on another maniacal stamp hunt so it was Mike, Jon and I headed for NM. We decide to take the road to Presidio and it is awesome. great curves, sweepers etc. The hardest part of the road is keeping your eyes on the road as the scenery vies for your attention. About half way to Presidio we stop at a rest area complete with T-pees. As I get off the bike and go to put her up on the center stand she tumbles over. Hey what gives? After we pick her up (could have used these guys yesterday) we discover that I've broken my center stand. Oh well side stand is still there. BTW, drops due to equipment failure don't count. (That's my rule and
I'm sticking to it) Off to Ft. Davis, TX and a lunch stop at a really cool period restaurant. They had the best beans and jalepinos I had ever tasted as well as great pie. ( are you seeing the theme yet?) We set off for Carlsbad and as we pull onto a great motorcycle road I get stuck behind some poking cages so Jon and Mike leave me in their dust. I'm not worried though because I know I can catch up. Shortly after this thought the bike sputters to a stop and dies on the side of the road. This time there is plenty of gas so my liter isn't going to bail me out. I've recently finished reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and I found it to be a load of touchy feely liberal bullshit, but the one good thing he says in it is about whenever you breakdown don't loose your cool but rather analyze what it could be and see if you can fix it. With this in mind I knew it had to be a fuel starvation challenge so I decided to swap out the fuel filter first and then check the lines next. Turns out it was a clogged filter and I had it fixed in under 30 minutes. Boy was I proud of myself. Just one more level in my quest to become a true road warrior. Of course some of my euphoria was stolen by my knowledge that if I hadn't been able to fix Jon was bound to turn around sooner or later and come for me. :-) Still an achievement though. Well, I'm back on the road and soon I come upon Jon and we continue onto Carlsbad. I had resigned myself to missing the stamps that day but as we crossed over the NM border we also crossed into Mountain time. Oh yeah, the gods are smiling on me. A stop at Guadeloupe and the ranger tells me I have 40 minutes to make 50 miles. I just smile the Pinkman smile and Jon and I wick it up. Little did we know that we would have to climb 8 miles up the side of a mountain to get to the visitor's center. As we climb the sun is setting. About the time we reach the crest I can't see and I feel myself going over the bumps signifying my crossing over the center line. I decide this is crazy and come to a stop. As I put my hand up to block out the sun I see the monster RV that is about 10 feet away that I would have collided with. This marks the second time that I have almost killed myself in my quest for stamps. Oh man I got the fever bad now. :-)
Next, On to AZ.
Day 8 ( Dec. 27)
It was decided the night before that we would make Tucson that night with a stop in Las Crusces for lunch. Mike, Jon and I head out early and we go over some great mountain roads that expose me to yet more extraordinary scenery. I saw the sign for Roswell but decided that they probably wouldn't let me into Area 51. To bad as I would have loved to see some of them little green guys. :-) Crossing the mountain passes I was struck by the way it would feel so warm when we were in the sun and so cold when we passed into the shadows. A quick stop at white sands to get the stamp and we were on our way. The best sign of the day was the one informing us that if they were testing missiles traffic would be stopped for up to an hour. No firings today. Too bad I wouldn't have minded the delay to get a chance to see that. About noon we pulled into Las Cruses looking for the Spanish Kitchen. After spending 40 minutes following various directions that included some from a homeless guy selling newspapers at a traffic light (Yeah I asked Mike why he thought a homeless guy would know where a good restaurant was) we found the place. It was more than worth the delay as it had the absolute best Spanish food I have ever eaten. After lunch Mike was feeling like wicking it up but I wanted to conserve fuel so we agreed to meet in Deming. Caught up with Mike in Deming and he decided to go on for some stamps while Jon and I stopped. I now know why everyone raves about Deming Cycle. Don is a great guy. He even gave me a discount on the filter I needed. Shortly afterwards Jon and I headed out to make the last 220 miles to Tucson. We were feeling good and the speed limit was 75 mph so we made it in about 2 1/2 hours including a gas stop. Got love the southwest. :-)
Day 9 (Dec. 28)
Today was truly to be a short day. Only 100 miles to Phoenix. Mike and Greg were off on a stamp hunt but I decided I was only going to get the one at Casa Grande so I decided to head for Iron Horse. What a great dealer. I spent 3 hours there talking with Marty and the rest of the crew. I finally got to meet Rob Lentinni and I attempted to fatten him up with the donuts but he would only have one. Rob, this is why you are having problems with your shock loads. That boy is down right spindly. :-) Jon and I decided to split up and I headed for Casa Grande ruins. By this time it was getting down right hot as the temps climbed to near 80 degrees. But it really is a DRY heat. Still hot though, damnit. Since I was on my own and in no hurry I actually spent some time looking around. It is easy for us of European origin to think we were the settlers but the Huttah Indians managed to thrive in the desert back in the 1100's. Awesome. No, I don't think we should give it back or any of that crap, but awesome none the less. I decided to avoid I-10 and used 87 to take me up to Skipper's house. Another first. I was on an Indian Reservation. Way cool. I arrived at Skipper's house early (3 p.m.) and he opened his incredible home to me as we got to know each other. Skipper is top shelf and I suggest you get to know him. As time passed more and more of the evenings participants showed up and we generally had a raucous time. I had decided that part of my problem with gas mileage had to be the air filter so safely encased in Skipper's well equipped garage I began to take apart my K bike. (Look out I'm getting dangerous now) Luckily Paul Glaves showed up and helped me put it back together. I had a blast this night. I got to meet alot of our west coast brethren. Butch, Mick Collins, Chris Wenzel, Susan and Fulton rode out from San Diego for the affair. Paul and Voni Glaves were in from frozen Kansas dragging the F650 and R80 so they rode them over. Russ Locke agreed to put Ira up so we got to hang together again. I met the (in)famous David Norton. Also Michael but I can't remember his last name. There were lots more but I was on sensory overload so I'm sure I'm missing someone. Skipper's wife had made a great spread and we gorged ourselves on some of the best chili I have ever tasted. Eventually the evening wound down and another successful meeting of the presidents was complete. I can't say enough how the IBMWR list has expanded my friendships. Skipper and Kathy treated us like family and even allowed us to hang with their great kids Jacob and Meeeeeeeghan. They may be permanently scarred. :-)
Next off to San Diego and the Hays Hostel.
Day 10 (Dec. 29)
It had been decided the night before that Greg and Mike were going to make there way to San Diego via Mexico getting a stamp along the way. I really wanted to ride in MX but I had foolishly left my proof of insurance at home and I wasn't sure if I could get Mexican insurance without it. So it was off to the waffle house for a presidential breakfast. Shortly after arriving at the waffle house a decision was made that this place was just too small so we headed over to Denny's. Now I was less than enthused because around us Denny's motto is "Hey it's late." Surprisingly the food was decent. Good-byes were said and I left to travel with the San Diego contingent. We set out and again the scenery was breath taking. I'm sure the folks who live out that way take it for granted but I had never seen such wide open spaces. Mick Collins was leading and he managed to take us all the way to San Diego virtually sans interstates. The roads he chose were magnificent motorcycle roads and I was struck as to how fast the landscape could change. One moment we were in the scrub, cacti and hills and the next we were crossing into the dunes. I now know where all of the off road ATVs are sold in this country. As we came upon the dunes area it was like something out of a Mad Max movie. Hundreds of ATV of all makes( dirt bikes, 3 and 4 wheelers, dune buggies and even some Baja VW bugs) were buzzing everywhere. I was loving it and wishing for a GS about this time. Fulton showed considerable restraint by keeping his GS on the pavement. Shortly thereafter we crossed into the greenest fields I have ever seen. CA vegetation thanks to the wonders of irrigation. Chris Wenzel was the first to break off as we headed into some of the best twisties I had ever seen. A guy on a PD passed all of us and Mick couldn't resist so the 2 of them chased each other all through those roads. Myself? I just concentrated on the road and making San Diego in one piece. About the time we reached Roma Mick broke off with promises to join us later. Then Susan and Fulton also broke off with the same. Butch and I proceeded to his house and as we pulled into his driveway I was greeted with a huge banner declaring "Welcome Reindeer Riders" with all of our pictures blown up and stapled to his garage door. I loved it. I finally got a chance to meet Butch's lovely other half and soon Esther had me feeling at home. Jon had arrived earlier and we set about munching on all of the great food Esther was preparing. God, what a spread she put on. Butch has got a good woman there. Good looking, can cook and will put up with all of us gear heads. :-) Esther you have a sister? Greg and Mike arrive a little later and we are regaled with their adventures in MX. These 2 guys are my heroes. Mick and his wife showed up as well as Susan and Fulton. Fulton Martin brought a homemade cheesecake with him and it was extraordinary. Peanutbutter and Jelly flavor no less. Much merriment ensued until it was finally time to go to bed. Butch has his priorities right as he kicked his kids out into the garage so we could all have a place to sleep. Don't feel too bad though, his garage is carpeted. Yes carpeted. I figure it to be just right for that fancy Mercedes his wife tools around in. :-)
Day 11 (Dec. 30)
Jon awoke early to head north and the night before Mike and Greg had decided they were going to head up to Joshua tree for more stamps so they are splitting after breakfast. I find myself a bit saddened that our group is already breaking up. We were just getting into a groove and it was already over. Such is the way I guess. I had decided that I needed a day of rest so I had elected to stay another day at the Hays Hostel. We all mount up early for a ride to breakfast where I get to meet many of the characters who are in the San Diego club. I especially enjoyed meeting John Herman. It was a gas to hear him recount stories of his trips through the Alps. What a character. After breakfast we decided to not ride with the club because Mike needed some warranty work to his LT so we headed for Fun Bikes. It was about this time that I discovered that the bolt for my right hand side bar end weight was missing. I thought "No problem I'll just get one at the shop." Now I'm used to patronizing dealers like Bob's and Morton's so I was very disappointed when the kid behind the parts counter replied "What's a bar end weight?" This dealership is definitely focused on other brands. Although Mike said they did perform his work quickly and competently. While Mike's ride was being fixed we all decided to head over to Cabrillo Nat'l park where I finally got to set my eyes upon the Pacific Ocean. ( I think) San Diego is the first time I have been to CA and what a town. I could get used to living there. After we got back to the dealer Mike and Greg said their good-byes and Butch and Ester and I headed back to their house. I had expressed an interest to go into MX and Butch decided to take me over the border at Tecate. It was looking like rain and Esther doesn't have any rain gear so we decided to ride down in that beautiful red 'Benz. Well at least that is the way I made it seem when I suggested the car ride. Truth was, I wanted a ride in her car and I was sick of riding by this point. That is until I saw the great roads I missed. After arriving at the border we parked the Benz on the American side and walked over. Apparently it is kind of foolish to take a car like that over to Mexico. Just as we were approaching the crossing we saw 3 riders and 2 R1100R's stopped looking at maps. Esther rolled her eyes as Butch and I decided we had to go and talk to them. Turned out to be 3 German's on holiday. We took pictures and were on our way. Crossing over into MX is like walking into a warp or something. I was immediately struck by the differences in the quality of the roads etc. One bright note was the cleanest VW Bug I had ever seen. I thought I had stumbled across a classic until Butch informed me that they still manufacture them in MX. I had a '68 when I was in highschool and I loved that thing. I wonder how tough it would be to import one? We walked around for awhile and finally found the Tecate brewery. We had a round of beers on me (they were free) and then headed back to San Diego. The 3 of us had dinner at the San Diego brewery where I had the best cheese soup I had ever tasted. It even was served in a bread bowl so I could eat the bowl. (Very Willie Wonkaish dontcha think?) As we were leaving we spied 2 of the dirtiest GSs I had ever seen. Of course Butch and I had to go talk to them and it turned out to be Eva and Eric of Seattle returning from their x-mas Baja excursion. They were staying the night at the Hays Hostel (You see now why I call it that?) so we went back in to sit with them while they ate and listen to the tales of their adventures. It took me until later that night to realize that Eva (pronounced Ava) was a fellow IBMWR president who I had had many posts with earlier this year when she was trying to decide whether or not to go back to school to become and accountant. She didn't listen to me and is currently enrolled. :-) I felt kinda stupid as I asked her when she figured it out and she said she knew who I was right away. None the less it was great having a chance meeting like that. Again I am stunned as to how the internet has made the world such a small place. Well I had gotten a hair up my butt to head home the next day so I retired early so I could be on the road by 5 a.m.
Next Blitz home.......
Day 11 (Dec. 31)
I had decided the night before that while I have been having a blast Dorothy was right when she said "There's no place like home." so it was up and out of the house by 5 a.m. which was 7 a.m. central time. This is how I look at things when I am heading east. I plan the whole day around the time zone of where I am to stop for the evening. I was traveling alone today and as such I could make the decisions so I decided early on I was going to make this run a fast one. I think I have discovered the secret to endurance riding. load up you tank bag with food and drink in the morning and don't get off the bike the rest of the day. I found myself holding gas stops down to less than 5 minutes. The strategy worked as I made Van Horn, TX (848 miles) in 11 hours 45 minutes and that with a 1/2 hour delay for an accident. I have long prided myself with my ability to find cheesy motels with the Friendship Inn at $22 for the night being a prime example. It was clean and I wasn't going to be staying long so I only smiled when the shower curtain fell while I was cleaning up. Another first; Pizza Hut for new year's eve dinner. I was out before the new year hit so I missed Dick Clark's latest face lift. :-)
Day 12 (Jan. 1)
The previous evening I had gotten in touch with Herb Stark and with an invite to Avinger I had the days destination. This was to be a short day (663 miles) but I was in my Road Zone so I made it in less than 9 hours. I found the Blueberry farm with no problem and I got to see the spectacular home that Herb and Wilma live in. Picture an all cedar and pine planked open home set on the middle of 50 acres of wooded land. Stunning. The best part of all Herb built it himself. I was especially taken with it because it is exactly what I want to live in. Wilma made dinner while Herb showed me around. I'll let him fill you in about the plans for a 2 up camp ground. I had a wonderful meal and evening with the Stark's including Herb's 81 year old father. I fell asleep that evening in the guest suite with the smells of pine boarding all around me. BTW, Luigi did take a hankering to me. Perhaps it was because after 12 days on the road I was beginning to smell like a dog. :-)
Day 13 (Jan 2)
Destination today: Buford, GA and the Roddy abode (707 miles) Today is like yesterday as I blitz to make time. Wilma was kind enough to pack me a lunch so I flipped up the Duotech and ate as I rode. Made the ride in under 10 hours with a short stop in Vicksburg for a natl' park stamp. By this time I have got this thing figured out and as I arrive at Pat's I felt like I could have kept going. (Not!) Pat wasn't home when I arrived so I back tracked to a gas station to relieve myself for the first time that day. As I came out a guy on a pristine Harley (that turned out to be 4 years old with 1800 miles on it) commented "That beemer sure is dirty." I replied that they get that way when you ride them as I told him where I had come from. As he started his Hog he shook his head and said "You beemer guys are nuts." As his monstrosity roared into life I said "That thing sure is loud." but I don't think he heard me. Back to the Roddy's and Pat showed up shortly. Pat is one of the guys I don't see nearly enough so we gabbed for hours while he took me over to Blue Moon. What a great dealership. The collection of vintage BMW iron had me drooling. We sat around the dealer well after it closed and just rapped with the employees. Eventually I reminded Pat that Linda was cooking dinner and we needed to get back. Lots of food and conversation later Pat put me to bed in his extraordinary guest suite and I fell into a dead sleep ready to get home the next day.
Day 14 ( Jan. 3)
Well here it was. The last day of my journey. I was anxious and yet found myself wondering what FL was like this time of year. No, I was almost out of money and I needed to get home and back to my practice. Today proved to be the fastest day of the trip as I made the final 589 miles a hair short of 8 hours. As I pulled up to my house and parked the bike I found I didn't want it to be over already. But it was good to be home. My wrist was killing me but I felt content. I guess the trip caught up with me though as I fell asleep at 6 p.m. and slept 14 hours straight.
So that is it folks. How I ended up 1996, the best and worst motorcycling year of my life. I found that the journey to be an awakening of sorts. I realized how lucky I am to be able to live a life of adventure and unconventional thoughts while still maintaining a reasonable standard of life. I thank God for all of the great people I am blessed to call my friends and ask that he grant me the wisdom to see his decision to take Dave from us so soon. This was the trip of my life but I am warm in the knowledge that is to be but the first of many.
Happy New year to all of the presidents and I hope we have tons of fun in 1997.
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