I had an awesome trip. I had planned on updating this blog each night from my iPad but I quickly discovered something that I kinda already knew...typing anything of length on it takes forever. I'm going to get a bluetooth keyboard for it. Anyway...on to the report!
Monday, October 3, 2011
I pack up the bike and go to work for a few hours before hitting the road. I picked up a waterproof stuff sack that kayakers use and it worked perfectly. I strapped it to the back seat which allowed it to pull double duty as luggage and back rest. Sweet.
After getting some work done I get on the road about 3:00pm and make a bee line for the Suncoast Parkway. The entire route I have planned is off-interstate but I want to get clear of the local area as quickly as possible to get to the new scenery sooner. I take the expressway as far as it goes and pick up US19 Northbound up around Homosassa Springs, FL. US 19 is great, when you're in the middle of nowhere you can easily get away with 85+ mph but it offers so much more in the way of scenery than the interstates. The occasional small towns break up the long stretches of open road and the time and miles start ticking by effortlessly.
I keep on truckin' and as the sun goes down the temperature drops pretty quickly. Around dusk, I pull over at the awesome pecan stand near Perry, FL and put on a few more layers and my cold-weather gloves. My goal is to get into Georgia on day one and at around 8:00pm I come across this
Now that I'm in Georgia it is time to find a place to spend the night. It's been a pretty long day and I'm ready for a good meal, a few beers and the Bucs are playing the Colts on Monday Night Football! I pull in to the first hotel I see, a Best Western in Thomasville, GA with a "Now Open" sign out front. I assume this means it's new. I'm right. I get a great deal on a room and they let me park the bike right out front with some others.
Longhorn Steakhouse is in the same parking lot so I get a big steak, some tall beers, a free glass of cabernet and watch the Rays lose on one TV while the Bucs are just getting started on the other.
It was bug genocide today
The Bucs win and I hit the rack after an awesome shower that has nozzles in the ceilings, the walls...everywhere. It's like being in a car wash and I dig it.
Today's mileage: 242
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I start the day with the hotel's complimentary breakfast, pack up and I'm on the road by 10am. It's a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky and the high is going to be about 83. I can live with that.
Shortly after getting on the road I catch something out of the corner of my eye. It's the first time I've been this close to a crop-duster in action so I swing a U-turn and get back just in time to catch his last pass.
I would encounter little towns that look just like this one the entire trip. They all looked nearly identical with the "main" area of town being maybe 4 square blocks.
I keep on truckin' and just north of Albany, GA I bid farewell to US19 and start moving west, following the advice of some people who recommended a more scenic route to Atlanta. After blasting through some farm land with hardly any civilization, and getting more than a little nervous about finding some gas, I found myself in Plains, GA..home of President Jimmy Carter (yeah, they were actually quite proud of this.)
While I'm there a train passes by (I pull the "honk" sign and it works)
While in Plains I have some fried peanuts (not that exciting) and home made peanut ice cream (exciting). I am also accosted by the old lady that owns the store directly below the big "Jimmy Carter" sign above and she talks my ear off for about 20 minutes. The entire time I'm waiting for a chance just to get a word in to say I gotta go but she is able to continuously speak, seemingly without taking a breath, for 20 minutes. She had been with some big company based out of Chicago when she and her husband decided to get back to the simple life. They moved here, bought the store (a tourist shop full of presidential memorabilia) and they live above it. She also tells me about 10 stories about a tornado that slammed the town a couple of years ago. I finally manage to tell her I need to get moving, she gives me directions to the nearest gas station and I'm on my way.
In another town this building sits right in the middle of their main traffic circle
I come upon a train and it's a race!
I make up some ground on him
And I win
As I pass the conductor, I try the ole "honk" move and it works again. I'm two for two.
The rest of the day is more beautiful scenery, more little towns and more perfect weather. I arrive in Newnan, GA in the evening and call it a day.
Today's mileage: 203
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Today is just a quick ride from Newnan into Atlanta. I get to Atlanta around lunch time, check in to my hotel and hit Yelp in search of good Mexican food in the area. As usual, Yelp delivers and I soon find myself at Sombrero's Mexican Cantina. It's one of those hole-in-the-wall joints that you'd never just waltz into but Yelp said it was good and Yelp never lies.
After lunch it's back to the hotel to relax and prepare for tomorrow's meeting. The hotel overlooks the airport so I spend most of the evening hanging out on the balcony watching Friday Night Lights on my iPad as an endless stream of jets arrive on Runways 8L and 8R.
Also, I learn Steve Jobs has died. Bummer. And yes, I found out about it on a device he created.
Today's mileage: About 40
Thursday, October 6, 2011
I have meetings all morning until about 2:00. As soon as I'm cleared to leave, I load up the bike and try to get as far from Atlanta as I can before rush hour even has a chance to get started. I pass Atlanta Motor Speedway and do my best to get a picture of the sign while going about 60 mph.
I try to get a pic of me with the track in the background. Not so successful (but you can see part of it).
South of Atlanta everything is pretty again. Life is good.
Looking down at my map, I notice there's a tiny town just off my route with a pretty sweet name so I break off onto Highway 83 and head toward Brent, GA. I'm really hoping for a "Welcome to Brent" or "Brent Welcomes You" sign but the town is too small for even that.
I have to settle for a road. Bask in the glory of the red beard...
Not far from there I arrive in Forsyth, GA. When I say "arrive", I mean I passed by it in about 20 seconds...par for the course around here. I do stop long enough to take a pic of the courthouse with some pretty cool war memorials and cannons and stuff out front.
The rest of the day is just hauling the mail..my goal is to get into Florida before I stop.
Did I mention there are cotton fields EVERYWHERE in Georgia?
Somewhere along the way this afternoon I pass a train coming the opposite direction. Yes, I hit him with the "honk" move and yes, he obliges. I'm still batting a thousand on that.
I stop in Tifton, GA for dinner after pretty much steadily jamming down US41 all day. I see a Mexican restaurant that looks promising and stop in. It's chimichanga time and it's excellent. I relax for a bit and then head outside to suit up for the colder weather and continue to make my way south.
I jump onto Interstate 75 because I don't really love riding those smaller roads in the middle of nowhere at night, too many suicidal deer that could accidentally take me with them. It is here that I am reminded just how awful Interstate travel is. After days of rolling hills, sweeping turns, charming little towns and everything else that comes with taking the smaller roads, the giant slab of pavement adorned with millions of obnoxious billboards isn't all that appealing. Anyway..I'm on a mission to get into Florida so I don't get to Orlando too late tomorrow.
40 or so miles later and..success! You can't really tell but this is the Florida state line.
It's been a long day so I finally pull in to Lake City, FL and get a room. A few more episodes of Friday Night Lights and I'm out.
Today's mileage: 306
Friday, October 7, 2011
I awake the and see this on the nightstand at the other side of the bed.
Now I feel itchy. I'm pretty sure it must have been left a while back because the room was clean, the bed was made and the towels looked fresh but still...not what you want to see next to a bed you just woke up in in some hotel in Lake City. On the plus side, it's nice to see that 7-year-olds can get a job here.
Today is the first day I see any indication that it might rain. It's somewhat cloudy and the forecast calls for 60% chances of rain throughout most of Central Florida. No big deal..I've got rain gear, a full-face helmet and I don't melt. Onward!
Not much of interest on this portion of the ride. The weather turned out to be no big deal. I did hit a small patch of rain about halfway but it wasn't heavy and didn't last long. I'll take it.
I stop at a Denny's near Leesburg and notice that every single person in the restaurant appears to be over 70. A good chunk of them appear to be over 90. Apparently there's a huge retirement village or something in town. I talk to some nice people who ask me where I'm heading (this happens ALL THE TIME when you pull up somewhere on a motorcycle loaded down with bags.) We talk for a bit, I devour my Moons Over My Hammy sammich (first thing I've eaten all day..it's about 1:30pm) and I'm back on my way.
I triumphantly arrive at the Grand Cypress in Orlando at about 3:00 to begin a little weekend vacation with my family.
Today's mileage: 163 miles
Overall it was a fantastic trip. This was the first time I'd actually ridden "somewhere" and not been returning home the same night. There's something oddly exciting about leaving somewhere and not knowing where you'll be staying that night. The freedom and spontaneity of life on the road is intoxicating.