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Old 11-18-2012, 05:53 PM   #1
PhillipsMetal OP
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Back roads to Bama

Prelude to the ride:

My first long ride was at the age of 26. In November.

With a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a college degree and a duffle bag full of clothes, I loaded up on a motorcycle that I had just assembled from two wrecked bikes and left Montgomery, Alabama for Elfrida, Arizona. My destination was job at Vision Quest where I would spend the next 3 ½ years working on a wagon train that traveled from Elfrida up to parts of Montana and Wyoming and back every year, along with a couple of stints on quests and at the wilderness camps.







Vision Quest was an intense juvenile rehabilitation program that focused on fixing the worst of the worst kids. Most were multiple felons and came from seriously screwed up backgrounds, but back to the ride.

The ride to Arizona was a pretty straight shot with a couple of detours. My brother caught the train and met me in New Orleans, where we goofed off a few days and then on to Corpus Christi, Texas, where we visited with our grand mother. From there is was all business to Elfrida with one freezing and fast ride to El Paso that sticks in my memory.

Now 26 years later I am an old man. The last couple of years have been a bit rocky, so I figured an adventure would get me kick started back into a little better place. I have an adventure in mind for the spring and just need to get things in place to make it work out. Step on: Get a passport Step two: Get Spanish lessons on CD. Done and done.

Step three: Find a motorcycle for the adventure. After a lot of looking and research the obvious tool for the job was the BMW GSA. Needed one used so that I could afford it with no lien on the title for my trip. After some looking, I found the perfect bike. A 2007 in great shape. The seller is a great guy, entertains my offer, thinks I am crazy and a deal is struck. The only complication is that the bike is 2,000 miles away. So I am forced into the position of having to ride it home (LOL – what a problem). Did I mention that the wife was really excited about this whole deal? I probably didn’t…LOL Actually she has been very supportive and the idea is growing on her.

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Old 11-18-2012, 09:15 PM   #2
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Friday – Day 0:

Alan meets me at the Phoenix airport and we are off to the bank to notarize the title, deposit the check, then off to see the bike. I have a one way ticket, so there is no use in doubling back to the bank at this point. The bike is as incredible as it looks in the pictures. But the best part is that Alan is as excited about this trip as I am. He has taken the bike by BMW for a visit, he loads my saddle bags with tools, puts me up for the night and invites me to his girl friends house for supper. Yolanda fixes a great meal and we talk and play with her two dogs, Rudy and Jewels before jet lag sets in and I beg off desert and go crash.

One small detail worth mentioning here. I have not seriously ridden a motorcycle since I left my Yamaha in Arizona in 1989. Alan is a motorcycle trooper and has his doubts about the sanity of this plan, but does his best to get me going. We take some rides through the neighborhood and around Scottsdale to get used to the BMW. The only real problem that I am having now is getting used to the height of the bike. Once its rolling, its fun to ride. At this point my greatest fear is dropping the bike in front of Alan and having him witness his pristine bike getting scarred up.


Alan’s excitement and Yolanda’s hospitality started the trip with some great karma. I cannot thank them enough for their kindness.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:01 PM   #3
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Saturday – Day 1:

26 years later , almost to the day, after my ride to Arizona, I am starting on the return trip.
Adding to the good karma of Alan and Yolanda’s gracious welcome is a reassuring sighting. When I was a kid, my Dad used to rebuild wrecked Corvettes as a sideline when he was in the Army and there were always new shiny Corvettes around the house. My love of Corvettes was born and I eventually bonded with the 1972 Corvette with t tops – especially the red ones. It was always the car that I would some day have to own.

On my way out of an auto parts store picking up some additional straps for my luggage, sitting next to my new ride is the car of my dreams and its red. But sitting next to the BMW, it just didn’t dampen my excitement over the bike one bit. Things were coming together nicely.

A goodbye to Alan and Yolanda and I start cruising through Scottsdale. The sun is out and it is a pleasant 84 degrees. There are Ferraris and muscle cars everywhere. The beautiful weather has brought out all of the car people, bicyclists and motorcyclists and the streets have been turned into an impromptu car show.

I cruise a few streets and then head towards the 101 to head out of the city.

And that’s where the good karma and coincidence stopped like a bug hitting the windshield. Holy CRAP, this freeway is CROWDED. And they are hauling butt. The wind noise on the motorcycle makes it seem like I am running 100 miles an hour and the cars are still whizzing by. Some jackass is 2 feet in my lane, eating lunch and talking on the cell phone, but I have such a death grip on the handlebars that I cannot peal off a hand to give him the finger. My heart is racing and I am having a full blown panic attack on the freeway.

I just focus straight ahead and ride on until I get to Highway 60 and hope that the insanity will calm itself with a little slower paced highway. As I swing on to the Highway 60 ramp, I glance a peak down the road and ITS WORSE. This is terrible. The cars are bumper to bumper, a gagillion lanes wide and they are flying. And they are just right there where you can reach out and touch them. I would catch an off ramp and see if Allen would give me part of my money back, fly home and just pretend it never happened, but I am too terrified to change lanes. This sucks.

Somewhere between 26 and 52 freedom turned into vulnerability.

I white knuckled Highway 60 until the traffic thinned out and the freeway turned into a quiet little 4 lane back road. My screaming adrenalin level finally ramped down to a level of sheer panic and I started thinking that there may still be some potential in this ride. I start feeling comfortable enough to steal a glance at the mountain range to my east and take in a little scenery. The shear expanse of the Arizona countryside adds to my apprehension, but brings back some memories of my previous time here. Growing up surrounded by trees and country roads, I still remember my amazement at loneliness I felt in the wide open Arizona spaces, especially at night. That loneliness gradually turned into a comfort and the many nights I spent in the wide open desert are still a fond memory. I hope I get used to this freedom a little quicker this time, or it will be a very long ride home.


After easing down Highway 60, I turn south towards Florence, where I cruise through their quaint downtown looking for some lunch. All I see is some Mexican food restaurants and a chain burger joint. My stomach is still a nervous wreck, so I opt for the burger joint. Not exactly the adventuresome first meal of the trip I dreamed of, but right now eating anything is an adventure. – LOL.

After my lunch, I head south for Oro Valley and a visit with my cousin Mike and his family. They live just a couple of blocks off of Tangerine Road, so they were easy to find. Unfortunately, I was running behind from a slow start this morning and could only spend a little time visiting with Mike, Patrice and their daughter Alex. I hated to hurry through that visit, because they are all enjoyable to spend time with. Mike and his brother Bob were the older California cousins that I grew up admiring. They were always working on some exotic car or involved in something exciting that made my rural Alabama upbringing seem so mundane. Mike hasn’t changed a bit. When we were dropping giant cams into Chevy big blocks, he was fine tuning little 4 bangers with computers and turbo chargers to wring out 100+ horsepower a cylinder. He is still a hotrod techno geek, with a tricked out Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, his Mustang show car and he is still sticking it to the man with his yard full of solar panels. His wife Patrice is just the nicest lady you would ever want to meet and his daughter Alex is straight off of the TV show Big Bang Theory. Alex just finished a degree is some kind of political science and has returned home to kill some time taking some chemistry courses until she heads off for grad school.


After a much too quick visit, I am on the road through Tucson and already breaking one of my 2 rules for the ride. The first rule was to stay off of interstates and rule two was to find a place to crash shortly after watching the sunset. I broke rule one today by jumping on the interstate to get to Benson on the other side of Tucson. There is just not a convenient was around Tucson and the routes that I were familiar with just did not hold enough interest to get side tracked at this point. I would have to wait one more full day to break rule number two –

The interstate ride was still very uncomfortable. I am just not used to the wind and the noise, even with earplugs. Once I got off of the road in Benson, the ride to Tombstone was great. The sun was just beginning to set and the view was a great way to end the ride for the day.

I did not need to another stop in Tombstone to remind myself how badly I hated this place, but here I am again. A few years ago I brought my wife out to this part of the country to see where I worked and played and we traveled the whole state. The highlight of the trip was spending a few days in Bisbee, which is about 25 miles down the road from Tombstone. Bisbee is one of those magical places that just draws you in. I discovered this place on time off from the wilderness camp and spent a lot of nights in St. Elmo’s and the Stock Exchange Saloon and lots of days just tooling around the town. Once Marinette was introduced to Bisbee she had the same fondness for the town. So when I was heading south on this motorcycle ride, her only condition to the whole ride was that I could not go to Bisbee without her. While this killed my plans to stay at the Airstream Trailer Motel, it also had another consequence. The route to Elfrida, which was my old workplace went straight through Bisbee. The only way around was a dirt road through the ghost town of Gleeson. Now I am forced to really ride the back roads!!!

So now I am stuck in Tombstone and rediscovering how renaming a crap hole motel a bunkhouse turns a $30 room into a $80 room. In defense of the owner, they cut my rate to $60 and were the nicest inn keepers of the entire trip. Their friends were getting married and I was invited to the wedding and a bar downtown.





After cleaning up, I walked to the scene of the shootout and sure enough, the place is filled with pirates and city slickers decked out in their cowboy garb. It’s a heterosexual drag show at its finest. I guess after living on a wagon train for a few years, seeing people dressing up like cowboys and acting stupid just grates on my nerves. After a while I get off my high horse and accept the fact that if I can dress up like an adventure rider to swerve down 12 miles of dirt road, then maybe these folks aren’t so irritating after all. Maybe I will dress up like a doctor or lawyer on my next trip through just to feel a part of the Halloween atmosphere.

I had a decent supper of salmon and vegetables at the Crystal Palace and wandered down to the wedding party. It was at a pretty neat outdoor bar with fire pits and a live band. The wedding party was Harley themed, so it was hard to tell who was in costume for the party and who was just in costume, but it was a biker party. The bride and groom were going to take their vows on the same bar stools that they met on. I hung out for a while and listened to the lead guitarist rip up some Stevie Ray Vaughn until I got tired and wandered back to my abode.

The bunk house was a wreck. The light switch electrocuted the crap out me and both beds were barely standing. I took the one that didn’t squeak so loudly and spent most of the night pulling myself back to the uphill side of the bed and then slowly sliding back towards the floor.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a morning person. I have spent my whole life arranging things so that I do not have to wake up early and I planned on catching up on some sleep tonight.
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:42 AM   #4
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Hope you had a good sleep and thanks for taking us along... Welcome to ADV.
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:23 PM   #5
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Sunday – Day 2

Thanks!!! Even after rolling off the bed all night, I still slept good. BUT, I was awake at the crack of dawn. And I was excited about my day. This is a first!

After a convenience store breakfast of a coke and a rice crispy snack that evidently shocked one of the granola locals, I was off on my ride.

About a half mile from the motel, I hung a left onto Gleeson Road and rode a mile or two until the pavement ended.




OK, I will admit that it wasn’t the Road of Bones, but it was an adventure for me. The whole ride was a terrible wash board and had a couple of sandy and hard packed sections covered with loose rocks that made me tense up a bit. I made a quick visit to the Gleeson Jail and poked around a few minutes. There was a GSA in a driveway on the way, but I thought folks might not be crazy about me taking pictures of their yard. Getting shot wasn’t on today’s itinerary.


From the Gleeson Jail, the road had been recently paved all the way to Elfrida, so it was a smooth ride all the way to Vision Quest Lodge that I used to call home.


In the late 1980’s, when we arrived at the Lodge with the wagon trains for the winter, the place was packed to the seams. There were two wagon trains that each had around 100 kids and 40 staff each. There was an orientation camp with probably 40 or 50 kids, the main camp with close to another 100 kids, a quest camp with about 40 kids, a total of another 50 or 60 staff and a Cuban camp, where there were probably 20 or 30 of the Cuban adults with serious criminal and mental problems that Castro sent us as a present, along with the staff that looked after them.

Today the wilderness camp is essentially empty, except for Butch who is shoeing some mules in the barn.





Butch gives me the run down on the place. The wagon trains have stopped the cross country trips and are limited to short runs around Arizona that we would have considered a quest back in the day. The good news is that Harold is running the Lodge and he was one of the good guys. He was truly a stand up guy and I hate I missed a chance to tell him hello.

In the 1980’s, Rand McNally did a pretty thorough study and found Vision Quest to be the most successful juvenile delinquent rehabilitation program in the country. In my last bit of time there, the social workers started showing up and complaining about the little angels having to sleep on the ground in teepees, so they built platforms for them. They complained about the cursing (OK, I will give them that one), they complained about the no nonsense physical limits that made the program actually work, and they complained about anything and everything. They finally complained until they got their way and now the little angels have air conditioned barracks, they have no physical limits and the program has become watered down. Really a shame.




One bright spot on the Vision Quest tour was Butch’s truck. If I ever decide to don some assless chaps and start hauling my bike in a truck, this is the truck I want to haul the GSA:



From the Lodge, I make a quick stop at the Elfrida corner store, where the owner asked me about my ride. I told him I was heading to the Coronado Trail and he warned me to dress warm. The 84 degree day wouldn’t last long up there. He had a place in Alpine and told me of a great place to eat in Springerville at the end of the trail.

On the road to Wilcox on Highway 191 (which used to be Highway 666 until the locals complained about the superstitious numbers), the Border Patrol set up a road block for all of us heading north. In a low point of the day, they just waved me through. That would have never happened 20 years ago. There would have been a 30 minute search and interrogation. Getting old sucks. Another thing I rediscovered on the road to Wilcox is how riding 50 miles in a straight line while you just stare at your destination for almost an hour isn’t really exciting.

Through Wilcox, lunch in Safford and then on to the fun. Clifford is an old mining town like Bisbee, but without the hippies and the artists. Made a loop through a great little downtown that is just waiting for someone with a vision. This place has character.

On to Morenci where the road goes straight through the mining operation and up a twisty road to start the 130 mile Coronado Trail. The road rides through a little tunnel and right under the augers and mining equipment. On several views there are huge dump trucks hauling dirt out of the mines.


The next 30 miles are just climbs, switchbacks and sheer drop offs. Everywhere you turn your head the view is suitable for a postcard.





After 30 miles of twisties, the road stretches out to beautiful rolling hills and grass covered fields interrupted regularly by shorter sections of twisty mountain climbs.



I took my time traveling the trail and time started getting away from me. About two thirds the way into the trail, it started getting dark around Hannagan Meadow. I stopped at a lodge and restaurant to don some more clothes and the lady told me that I had about 45 miles to go, but the tough part of the trail was over. I put on a couple of layers under my First Gear jacket, stepped into my new Bilt pants and tore the tags off of my new Bilt gloves. My hands were already freezing and I was really looking forward to the heavy Bilt gloves. These things looked like they were made to make the Eskimos jealous. Big heavy fake fur lined mitts. Once I was rolling with my gear I found the first bad side of the Bilt gloves. They are so thick that I cannot feel the controls through them or the heated grips. Once I got up to speed I found one thing that you could feel through the mitts – THE COLD. These things are crap. I stop and put on my bicycle gloves and just tough it out.

Once its dark and cold, I really start slowing down and just tip toeing out of the mountains. The 84 degrees of the afternoon quickly turned into the mid 30’s and the BMW even started flashing a snowflake on the dash just to let me know it was cold (note to BMW - I figured it out on my own). I was going so slow at one point I was passed by a truck pulling an RV trailer. By the time I got to the Safire Restaurant and Lounge in Springerville, I was freezing, tired and there was no ego or pride left. A quick enchilada supper and I was next door and sleeping in no time. I might have been beaten, but I was still smiling.

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Old 11-19-2012, 02:16 PM   #6
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Monday – Day 3:

I thawed out by morning, but it was still a brisk mid 40’s when I pulled out of Springerville. After yesterday’s scenic ride, I expected today to be a lot of monotonous highway. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Heading into New Mexico, the road had a nice rhythm to it. The long stretches of open road were broken up every hour or two by a mountain pass or a trip through a small town. It was just enough straight line riding to stretch out and finally get comfortable and enough mountains and small towns to plunk around and play tourist.



There were some interesting sights, like the hitching post at the credit union and their school’s eagle:





You have to wonder if the highway crew that put up this sign was laughing as hard as the guys that put up the speed limit signs – that Pie Town is a booming place!



Of course you won’t see DanCyn Windmill Museum on the interstate tour of NM: (Sorry Dan, I will catch you on the next trip)



And just things that really make you scratch your head:



Made an interesting lunch stop in Magdalena, NM. It is an interesting art town in the middle of no where in an abandoned mining town. First I stopped in ZW’s blacksmith shop for some BS time, then on to the Bear Mountain Coffee House and Gallery. Normally I skip the new age kind of places, but the guy putting out the lunch sign gave me a wave on my way through, so I figured I would give it a try. The nachos were some kind of Yankee interpretation of a sacred dish, but it was a pretty good meal anyways. I stopped in the gallery and picked up some ear rings for Marinette, then talked BMW’s with the cook who had waved at me. Turns out he is a BMW rider and a pretty nice guy.



The most notable part of Magdalena was the obvious town divided by politics war that was going on. Let’s just say the west side was leaning left and the east side was leaning right. I would elaborate, but I will take the wise advice of my friend Tom Wright, who was my bike (bicycle) riding friend and all around great guy. When we first started riding, he said he kept his friends by following the PROM rule – no talking about Politics, Religion, Occupation or Money. I miss Tom every day and seeing the political signs brought a tear to my eye. We were well beyond the PROM rule and those signs and this whole crazy ride would have warranted a bunch of phone calls. He was the one person who I could call and tell him the absolute stupidest thing I had done and he would completely understand without judgment. I will have save more Tom stories for my next ride and a long, straight day when my mind can wander.



Late in the afternoon I rode through the Valley of Fire. This is some kind of lava formation and a beautiful sight.

On into Roswell for the night and supper at Arby’s:




Today was an enjoyable ride. I am getting comfortable on the bike and the tourist pace was a perfect recovery from yesterday.


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Old 11-19-2012, 03:27 PM   #7
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nice report, keep it coming and ride safe :)

very jealous!!
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:29 AM   #8
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Hi John!

Looks like you had a great time! I also hate thick bulky gloves. I often use a middle weight pair with glove liners for that reason.

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Old 11-20-2012, 08:32 AM   #9
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Tuesday – Day 4

Thanks everybody! Pulling out of Roswell, it’s a crisp 40 degrees and the road is looking good. Highway 70. Oops, wrong road. Back through town and onto 380 / 82 and I am finally headed east.

Holy crap! What happened? Some giant alien from Roswell has ironed to the countryside. The interesting wrinkles and curves of yesterdays ride have turned into a starch smooth geography. I passed the Bottomless Lake on the way out of Roswell and I am not sure if it is the same lake that John Prine sang about, but I am positive that the Levelland sign is pointing to the same town that James McMurtry sang about:

“Flatter than a table top
Makes you wonder why they stopped here
Wagon must have lost a wheel
or they lacked ambition one…”

But even without the rhythm of yesterday’s ride through New Mexico, the ride across Texas had a majestic beauty to it that seems to get lost on the interstate route.

Heading out of New Mexico, someone in the town of Tatum got a plasma cutting table for Christmas. Every street sign and building sign in the whole town was a different scene cut from plates of steel. There were street signs with cowboys, mechanics, nature scenes and anything else you can imagine.





I think I was heading into Lubbock when I spied this eatery on the road side: I had a decent burger and fries and the owner was a nice guy.



Once darkness started setting in, I settled in on Nocona, Texas as my stopping point. I checked with the clerk in the convenience store and she and some customers told me they had 3 choices for motels. The first was an hourly type joint by the truck stop. The second was some renovated place downtown and the third was some fancy bed and breakfast place. I am noted for not spending more than the minimum on my motels, but a quick spin through the truck stop motel revealed a really run down inn, with bed sheets for curtains and just a run down feel. So I head downtown to check out the digs.






I ride around the building looking for a potential place to unload and park for the night. Once I figure it’s a safe neighborhood, I walk in and look around. The office is on the right on the way in and there is a brick lined hallway through the building with rooms on each side and a few rooms up stairs. As I walk through the motel, my packer boots are click clacking down the hall, I get the feeling that someone is watching me. When I turn around, an Indian (the country of India) family is staring at me. The father, the mother and the twenty something son all just have a look of wide eyed terror on their faces, like mad max had just walked in. So I smile and explain that I am just looking at the place to rent a room for the night. I guess it didn’t dawn on me that walking through a place in my jacket and boots, helmet in hand with wild hair and beard would cause any kind of disturbance. I sign for a room and start dragging my stuff inside and these people did not let me out of their sight the entire time – LOL. Turns out the family had just bought the place and I think I was the only guest for the night.

After scaring the inn keeper, I headed back to the main road to a Mexican food restaurant I saw on the way in. This turned out to be a great idea. The waitress said that the sour cream chicken enchiladas were popular and they turned out to be the bomb. These completely redefined the Mexican eating experience for me. Delicious. Hands down the best meal of the trip so far.



Back at the inn, I took a walk through the small downtown area that had been going through a recent revitalization. The downtown area was just a few square blocks but they were making the best of it. The best find was a stash of muscle cars in several building throughout the area. The buildings were fixed up in several different styles with the most prominent being a high class man cave / filling station motif.













PhillipsMetal screwed with this post 11-20-2012 at 06:01 PM Reason: add pic
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwj - Donnie View Post
Hi John!

Looks like you had a great time! I also hate thick bulky gloves. I often use a middle weight pair with glove liners for that reason.

Donnie
Thanks - I picked up a pair of First Gear lined gloves this weekend! As soon as it gets cold I will let you know how they do.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:06 PM   #11
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Wednesday – Day 5

The inn keepers study my exit with the same intensity as they did my arrival and I am sure the watched me until I made it to the main road, just to make sure I was gone – .

My next stop was the Nocona Boot Company’s former headquarters that made the town known to the world. It seemed appropriate to stop by an abandoned factory with the announcement of the presidential results – Ok, Ok, back to the PROM rule – . Actually Nocona was an inviting place and if I got the chance to just plop everything down in a new place, Nocona would be on the short list. No real reason, it just has a certain quality to it. Especially if I could open my shop in this Nocona Boot building!



The ride was pleasant and it was another beautiful day on the road. I eased into Paris, Texas with big plans to take a picture by the Eiffel tower and scoot out of there. I had no idea Paris was such an architectural treasure. My first stop was in front of the courthouse, which was an incredible piece of architecture, especially considering the meager landscape I had just covered. But the odd part was that the view was completely blocked by buildings that appeared to built in the same era. All of that room and they couldn’t find an extra 50 feet of set back to give folks a view of the building?



With direction to the Eiffel tower I cruised the downtown area and checked out some more of the architecture:





Then off to the Eiffel tower which turned out to be pretty cheesy:



But, next to the tower the they were constructing the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial to honor veterans from the surrounding 5 counties. This was a significant work and one of the workers told me the whole thing was privately funded. This was a really top notch work.







From Paris, it was lunch in the main square of Clarksville at the Italian Bistro. After I ordered an older lady walked in with a cane, stopped in the middle of the restaurant and asked me if that was my bike outside. I replied “Yes ma’am” and she told me about her family friend from Garland that rode motorcycles and wrote books about his rides as she walked towards my table. When she stopped at my table, she leaned right over to me and bumped heads with me, straightened up and laughed. Then she asked me, “What do EMT’s call motorcyclists?” I laughed and shrugged and she replied “Organ donors” and just broke into laughter. Of course I had to laugh too. She was having a blast just messing with everyone. Once she made it to her seat behind me, she was obviously on a cell phone calling her friends and when they would answer the phone, she would ask them loudly, “HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR NEW PRESIDENT?” and she would break out laughing. She would chat for a minute, then repeated this same routine for I guess everyone in town. It was still going on when I paid my bill, told her goodbye and rode off. There is something about Texas women that leaves you happy that you had a chance to share time with them. We have a close family Texan friend named Mozelle that has that same infectious personality, but I don’t think she will be head butting strangers in restaurants!

After lunch it’s a quick drive through Texarcana and on to El Dorado for the night. Either both towns were really run down (trying to be nice here) or the highway was routed through an unflattering part of town. I took the business route through El Dorado looking for a room, but the only business I could find was liquor stores and crack houses. The chamber of commerce may want to study a little rerouting of the business loop. I finally found a giant motel on the outskirts of El Dorado that offered parking right outside the room and had a restaurant on premises. I really wanted to just hole up in the room and order some pizza, but the local Domino’s had a disconnected number, so I snuck off the restaurant for a lackluster Mexican dinner and then back to the room.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:43 PM   #12
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Thursday – Day 6

Pulling out of Arkansas, the scenery started feeling like home. Windy roads with lots of tree cover and, finally, water!

The highway is getting more urban, with towns turning into small cities and big box stores replacing the quaint city squares. I am looking forward to today’s detour off of the highway onto some real back roads, but the routes across the Mississippi River are limited, so I will stick with highway 82 for a little longer.





The first difference in drivers that I notice is the use of turn signals. In Texas, most drivers will throw on a turn signal a half a mile before they turn. In Mississippi, people act like their driveway has changed locations yet again or maybe they just reckon everybody know where they live anyways.

On the way I see a sign to Clarksdale, where ADV inmate dwg-Donnie calls home. I have talked with him for the last couple of months about my plans for a trip and he has been an invaluable source of information. He has several trip reports covering Mexico and Central America and I have poured over them for ideas. I would hand a left and stop by and see him, but he is south of the border having fun. I hope to catch up with him this winter and pick his brain.




Once I covered a few miles on the highway I swung south towards Philadelphia, where my wife’s son and family live. He coaches and has a home further south in Decatur, but on my last call he through that they would be at the family home by the time I got through there. It sounds stupid, but I have driven to their house a ton of times form Alabama and only once from Philadelphia proper (they live about 20 minutes outside Philadelphia) and I go turned around in Philadelphia and couldn’t find the right highway out of there. I tried 6 of them and was actually on the right road early on, but didn’t recognize it as it was getting dark.

So I stop and call and no answer, so I ride some more. Finally Brian calls me and they are in Decatur! Guess I should have called last night, but this trip isn’t exactly been about planning. So I head down to Decatur, about 45 minutes, and it is getting a little nippy by the time I arrive. I visit with Brian, Leeann and Brady (the oldest son), while Eli (the youngest son) finally wrestles a loose tooth in his mouth into submission . Both of the boys are avid hunters and we watched Dale Earnhart kill a few deer on the tube while we shot the bull.

I don’t want to keep the boys up too late, so I head to Newton for some Mexican food and a motel.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:06 PM   #13
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Friday – Day7

Its back roads from Newton until my lunch stop in Scuba. This was in the top two meal of the trip – the Del Rio enchiladas may edge it out slightly with the food, but the lunch in Scuba had everybody beat on atmosphere.






Then I hit some more back roads until I came out close to Tuscaloosa. It was almost criminal to finish up such a fun ride with a sprint down the interstate to Birmingham, but the Friday rush hour traffic would be an even worse way to end such a fine trip. I made a quick trip to the Hoover florist and surprised my wife at work with a vase full of flowers on my way home.

2262 miles later and I was home.



It would be the next Monday before I rode my bike to Montgomery and parked it in my Dad’s back yard to officially complete the circle, but home seemed like a good place to call it a trip. The timing was perfect and I was at the point that I could have easily kept riding, or I would be happy to stop.

All in all, it was a perfect way to warm up for what is next…
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:38 PM   #14
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Great ride report!! Glad You had a great trip! I too live in Alabaster (actually Maylene) . I'll keep my eyes out for ya.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:14 PM   #15
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Great report!!! Those back road trips are the best. You get the real flavor of the area--good or bad--every stop on the interstate is the same.....

I've done all of those roads you were on in AZ, NM &TX. Next year I hope to get down south again. Thanks for taking us along.
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