Ring Around the Gulf 2009

2009 April 12th

I have setup and started this blog at the request of a friend. I have been preparing for a trip on a small motorcycle, a 2003 Kawasaki Ninja EX250. This was not by choice as I would have preferred a larger more powerful bike to take across the country. This bike was pulled out of storage recently and needed new tires and some other minor stuff. I ordered up some new tires and installed the GPS (Zumo 550) system off an older bike that is no longer with me. I also installed the StarCom system from my other bike and got everything working; letís hope that the alternator can take the power draw. The StarCom makes it so I can listen to the GPS and allows me to take phone calls if I need to; I also have my iPod connected so I have the music or books to listen to. I have been preparing for this trip for a long time and it finally looks like I will be able to go. More on this whole thing later.

2009 April 13th

Last night I had a difficult time falling asleep. I had far too much on my mind. All of the little details of things that needed to be accomplished before I leave were nagging at me. So many things were running through my mind I just couldn't relax enough to fall asleep. My phone went off and woke me up this morning reminding me of a good friendís birthday. That got me going to a point that there was no going back to sleep. I got up and got my day started. I ran through all those things that were keeping me awake last night and I believe that I have conquered all of the items.

It looks as though I will be leaving in the morning early for the first leg of my journey. The first leg is to head to Phoenix and visit a friend in the area for a couple of days. This is also close enough that if I have any trouble I can be picked up and rescued. Not that I will be in need of any of that. This trip will go smoothly and without incident. My GPS mapping software says that this section will take 13 hours and 40 minutes. With having to stop every 200 miles or so for fuel and a good stretch, it may turn out to be a good 15 hours of travel. Most all of the rest of my days will be less hurried.

Yesterday I had setup my tent as a practice run just to see if I remembered how. It took me forever, but I did get it setup. So this morning one of the things I set out to do was to put that entire gear away and stowed ready for travel. I feel that I did better but there is definitely room for improvement. I'm sure that with all of the practice, I will master the setup and tear down procedures.

I have checked the weather and it looks as though tomorrow will be my best bet for warm enough temperatures going over the three passes that I will have to cross before I get to the border of Colorado and New Mexico. After that, the weather should be dry and warm enough not to matter. I plan to over dress so that as I get to the warmer climate, I will be able to remove the warmer clothing. My plan is to leave first thing in the morning, so the next time I post, I should be in Phoenix.

2009 April 13th (part 2)

Iíll start off with the things that happened after I posted yesterdayís blog. (This was posted on the 14th) After I posted my blog entry, I assisted my son in building a new computer for him. During this process I stopped to run the bike up and get gas, so it would be ready for the trip and so I wouldnít have to stop first thing. I had a little trouble getting the bike to run. I figured that it just hadnít been run in a couple of weeks, No big deal, right? I drove up to the gas station that is about a mile away. I filled up the tank and when I went to start the bike ďClickĒ. Well I knew this was trouble. The bike is small so I just bump started it and drove home. I put the trickle charger on it and went back to check after about 2 hours. ďClickĒ. The trickle charger said that it was fully charged. This means a new battery time. When I told my wife this news she immediately started to look for a battery and told me just a few minutes later that Wal-Mart carries all types of motorcycle batteries. She calls the closest one and the guy said that they had the battery in stock. We went up to Wal-Mart and found that the guy didnít know what he was talking about and that they didnít carry the one for the Ninja 250. My wife got back on the case and found a company that did carry the right battery but they didnít open until 8am the next day.

2009 April 14th

I set my alarm to get up in time to go get the battery from this company and we arrived just after they opened and sure enough they had what we needed. We drove home installed the battery and loaded up the bike and by 10am I was on my way. Since I live on the opposite side of the Denver area from the mountains, it took about 45 minutes until I was clear of the city traffic. Once I got to the foothills it was clear sailing. The only trouble was that the further I went the colder it got. I pulled over in Bailey, CO and put on my suit liners and warmed up a bit before heading out.

While I was there, I met another individual that was riding and had stopped for a short break. We ended up talking for awhile and I found out that his name was also Mark. He said that he would ride with me as far as Poncha Springs, CO. I knew that would be a good spot for me to fill up so I agreed and off we went. Mark was riding a much more capable Yamaha FZ1. His bike was fully setup with luggage and he was using heated clothing. I wish that I was. My hand got a little cold by the time we reached Fairplay, CO, but I kept on going. I knew that by the time we got to Buena Vista, CO, the elevation would have dropped enough that the temperature would have warmed up. I stopped real quickly and took a picture in Buena Vista, CO and then we stopped again in Poncha Springs, CO. We exchanged information and said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Mark seemed like a real nice guy and a well seasoned rider and I hope that we will get to do more riding together.

I stopped again when I was in Del Norte, CO and grabbed something to munch on at the store. The local Sheriff was inside and I asked him if he knew how the Wolf Creek Pass was. He said that he didnít know, but he would find out for me. He made a quick call and then told me that the pass was clear and dry. Then he told me that I should hurry as they were expecting 12 inches of snow tonight. I didnít need any more encouragement than that.

I packed myself back on the bike and took off for the pass, which was only about 30 miles away. When I got there, the sky was clear and sunny, the only sun I had seen today. It was really cold but thankfully didnít last very long and I was on the other side. The bike ran out of gas at 120 miles on odometer, so I switched over to reserve and stopped on the other side of Pagosa Springs, CO. I filled up the bike and headed out still thinking that I could make it to Phoenix by 11:30pm if I kept going.

I made my turn just before I got to Durango, CO onto highway 550 to the south and I stopped in Aztec, NM at a McDonalds for something to eat. Just do yourself a favor, if you are ever in Aztec, NM, Donít stop at McDonalds. It was the most expensive fish sandwich Iíve ever bought and the guy behind the counter was flippant about it and called it ďHighway RobberyĒ. I ate and then left. I drove about 20 more miles and started to look for a place to stay in the town of Farmington, NM. I found a cheap motel and checked in. The very nice woman put me on the third floor. I thought that would be great until I had to hump up the stairs about 6 times to get everything off of the bike. Iím very tired and it has been a good day. Iím now beyond the weather issue and can take my time tomorrow instead of being rushed.

2009 April 15th

This was one of the worst motorcycle riding experiences of my life. Iíve been riding motorcycles since 1978. The weather was predicting high winds, but I had no idea it would be this bad. At one point I stopped to take a picture because I could not see the highway from dust being blown across it.

When I got to Gallup, NM, I took a break and got prepared mentally for the 100 or so miles on I-40 with a speed limit of 75 mph. The little Ninja was having trouble going 55 mph.

The freeway traffic was slower that I expected but it was still faster than me. Every time a truck passed me it would blast me towards the shoulder. There were three different times where I ended up way into the shoulder and one time all the way into the gravel. Luckily for me when I hit gravel I was actually going slowly enough that I was able to stop and catch my breath.

I had to stop for gas at the Petrified Forest National Park. I took a few minutes to walk inside the visitorís center and stamp my Parks Passport. With only about 20 miles left of the freeway section, I got back to it and made it to my turn off.

This made things a lot easier, as the winds were directly head on instead of to the side. I was also on a highway with a lower speed limit. It wasnít long after my turn that the elevation started to climb and the road moved into some trees. The trees helped a whole lot by blocking some of the wind. The further I went though, the higher I got and it was starting to get very cold. I had on all of my gear so I was staying warm, except for my hands. Within about 5 miles of the summit, it started to snow. The snow was really coming down at one point and I was starting to get very worried. The wind was keeping the snow off of the highway, but I knew that could change at any minute.

I kept plugging along, past the summit and down the other side where the snow stopped and the temperature started to climb the lower I got. I stopped in Payson, AZ to take a break and to warm up my hands on the exhaust pipe. I decided to get gas because I was close enough now that I could ride straight to my friends without any more stops.

The rest of the ride was a lot better. I was able to keep up with the traffic, being downhill and all. The further down I went the more power the little bike had too.

When I got into the Phoenix area it was rush hour traffic and I made a wrong turn according to my GPS. The GPS re-routed me a better way as it turned out and I pulled up at my friendís house just after he had pulled in himself. We parked the bike in the garage and then he gave me a beer. It was nice to have that experience over with. The rest of the evening was spent catching up and unpacking.

2009 April 16th

I had a rest day and hung out at my good friend Lesí place. We worked a little bit doing some clean up in his yard. A very energetic guy named Alex showed up and helped with some of the yard work. A little later another friend of Lesí named Bob showed up with a chainsaw and cut out part of a stump that was in the yard. We werenít really working too hard just taking it easy and getting some things done at the same time. We fired up Lesí grill and cooked up some burgers and brats. That really hit the spot. A little later an old friend of Lesí, Linda came by to join in the fun. It was interesting how a little impromptu party got started. Two more friends of Lesí that I met last time I was here also came by; that was April and Mark.

Finally, our friend French showed up and joined in. French is an awesome motorcycle mechanic, so I was picking his brain on some of the finer things about traveling with a small displacement motorcycle. He had several very good suggestions for me. French was the first one to leave as he had some prior business to take care of. We will get together again on Sunday and do a little work on the bike.

People started to leave and the place got a little quieter. It was getting late and so we called it a day.

2009 April 19th

Today was an important day for me and this trip. I took the bike over to a friendís who is also a great motorcycle mechanic. He helped me get the oil changed and clean the air filter and lube the chain and other general maintenance that this bike was in need of. It only took a little while as he works very fast and knows what he is doing. I was on my way with a better running machine in no time.

I went back to my friend Lesí house and we ran a few errands in preparation for me leaving in the morning and making my way down to Tucson, AZ and then over to Silver City, NM.

The last couple of days have been spent goofing off and doing some things around here helping out Les. I havenít really had anything to talk about so I just didnít post anything.

2009 April 20th

I left Lesí place this morning and headed for Tucson, AZ and Saguaro National Park. The bike rode great getting to the park and cruising around 75-80mph mark with no problem. After I got my passport stamped at the West Park I left and headed for the East Park. The East Saguaro NP was crowded with cyclists. I spoke with a couple of them and from what I gather; they ride the 8 mile loop for exercise. I got my passport stamped and hit the road.

The GPS did me a little stupid today and I ended up riding on a gravel road for about 6 miles. I dealt with it but not again. I got back on a main road and before I knew it I was in New Mexico.

It is somewhat strange how when you cross a border the landscape changes. I was riding in a desert with cactus and saguaros and when I crossed into New Mexico, it was suddenly trees and shrubs.

I made good time today, and made it to the campground around 5:00pm. This is the first time that I have slept in a tent or camped out for that matter, since I was in my twenties. This ought to be interesting.

My friends Les and French, wanted me to plug their businesses, so if you are ever in the Phoenix area and need these services please check them out.

Les Mathews Consuting, LLC
Computer Support Specialist

French is a great motorcycle mechanic, so, if you need that type of service check with French he is good. He works on all types of bikes and yes French Iím keeping a close eye on the chain and lubing, Thanks.

2009 April 21st

When I left the campground this morning it was fairly chilly. I was dressed for some hot weather. I had put on my Heat Gear, because where I was heading to was going to be in the high 90ís. I realized later that most of my day would be spent at a fairly high altitude. I was above the 7000ft mark most of the day. Having Heat Gear on under my jacket in cool environment makes things rather cold. I zipped up my jacket and put on the liners for my gloves and toughed it out. For the most part I was fine, but there were a few times when I was getting a little cold.

I left Silver City, NM and headed back west on 180 going North. I turned on the 12 and turned toward the VLA (Very Large Array) Radio Telescope on the 160. It is many giant dishes set in this high valley in a delta pattern; a peace sign without the circle. I wish that I would have had more time to spend there but I didnít so I kept going.

My goal was to get to Carlsbad, NM and camp out so that I could spend the day at the caverns tomorrow. The last time I was there, my pictures didnít turn out so I wanted to take some fresh ones and I know that these will turn out better. I stopped at the KOA just north of Carlsbad, NM but I thought that $35 was a little steep to pay for a tent site. I found another place just south of town that was a lot more reasonable at $18. Plus it is at least twenty minutes closer to the park.

Tomorrow is a rest day even though I will have to ride close to a hundred miles or so. My plan is to see the cavern and then ride south to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and find a camp site there.

I did have a really good day today. The roads were fantastic and empty. The little Ninja was feeling happy, and we had a great time with all of the twisted mountain roads.

I met some nice people at the RV Park; Duane and Marilyn that helped me with an extension cord so I had some power to do my blog and upload the pictures to my computer back home. Thank you.

2009 April 22nd

Today was great! I got everything packed and loaded easily this morning and then rode away headed for Carlsbad Caverns. I got up to the Park early and got my park pass and also a guided tour. As soon as the gates opened I started my hike down the Natural Entrance to the cave. The hike was about 45 minutes to get down to the main cavern. After I got down to the main cavern, I was early for the guided tour, so I strolled along the self guided tour for a ways. I was getting tired and I was feeling weird until I remembered that I had not eaten anything. I quickly went to the elevators and then went out to the bike for some jerky and peanuts. I got back on the elevator to go back down and made it in time for the tour.

The tour was very full and with so many people taking pictures, I had a hard time taking timed exposures due to so many flashes going off. I thought that if I waited until most everyone was gone then it would be easier. It was good at first but then the guide said that we had to go and she wouldnít let me take anymore pictures until we caught up with the rest of the group. I was upset at first and then I remembered that she had a job to do and I was trying to bend the rules too much.

When the tour was over I went back and strolled through the rest of the self guided area at my leisure. I spent time talking to a lot of the guides and other visitors. I took well over 100 pictures; I will post a couple of the good ones. I spent over 5 hours down in the cave and I had seen all that I came to see.

I got geared up and took off on the bike towards Guadalupe National Park. This was only about 45 miles away from Carlsbad Caverns NP, so it was a short ride.

When I got to the Park, I went to the visitorís center and stamped my passport. It was at this moment that I realized that I didnít get the passport stamped for Carlsbad, darn it. My passport does have a stamp for Carlsbad from the last time I was there, so oh well. I ended up talking to the rangers there for quite a while, and had asked them if I could charge my laptop. Somehow it was unplugged during the early morning without me knowing it.

I went up to the campground and picked out a site. I unloaded most of my gear and placed it on the picnic table and then grabbed the laptop and went back to the visitorís center. The center closed at 4:30 so that gave me a little over an hour to charge the battery and get started on todayís blog. When they closed down, I went back to the campsite and setup.

The weather was very hot when I left Carlsbad, but by the time I left the visitorís center, the temperature had dropped dramatically. It was very comfortable. Without cell phone service or internet, I ended up talking to several of the other campers for quite some time.

When it started to get dark, I went up to the restrooms and brushed my teeth. I went back and got in the tent and read some of the material that I have gathered.

Tomorrow my plan is to head on down to Big Bend National Park and camp somewhere there. I have less than 300 miles to the entrance of the park, but who knows how far to a campground.

2009 April 23rd

When I got up to walk to the bathroom this morning, my legs felt like rubber and were very sore. I guess the walking I did at Carlsbad Caverns was a lot more than I thought.

I got everything packed and loaded on the bike in good time this morning. I headed out and I needed to get gas, so I had to detour off of my route by some 20 miles to get to the nearest gas station. Of all things, when I got to the gas station I was greeted by 2 very large turkeys. I filled up the bike and the guy at the station was just laughing at me because I said something about the turkeys. I found it very funny, as they were following me around like a dog.

Once gas up, I headed back to my turn off and back on route. I stopped for lunch in Marfa, TX and had the first real meal in a couple of days. I gassed up and moved on.

When I got to Presidio, TX, I stopped to take off my t-shirt as it was getting very hot. While I was doing this, a police officer stopped and asked if everything was ok. I told him that it was and thanked him for stopping. I got back on the bike and was on my way again. The road between Presidio and Terlingua, TX was fantastic. It had lots of twist and turns and ups and downs. It was like a roller coaster with beautiful scenery. I had to stop a couple of times to take some pictures.

Just as I pulled into the gas station in Terlingua, it started to rain rather heavy, then hail. I stood there under the overhang and just watched for a couple of minutes and then it quit just as fast as it started. As soon as it quit, I got back on the bike and headed into the Big Bend National Park.

When I got to the entrance, I talked to the ranger and found out that the only place that had showers at the campground was the Rio Grande area. I still had some time so I took one of the other roads and went clear to the end. I took lot of pictures on the way and back. It was starting to get late so I headed for the Rio Grande campground.

I found a place to setup camp, did the registration thing and then went to take a shower. First, I could not find the shower. I asked the campsite host where they were and he said that they were over at the store. I got on the bike and went to take a shower. When I got there the store was closed and the showers were going to close in 45 minutes. I thought great, plenty of time. I go into the shower area and the showers cost $1.50 for 5 minutes. I have no change, so Iím pissed. I look around and there is no change machine. I start to pack it up and some guy comes in to take a shower and he has change for me, awesome! I took a shower and hand washed my Heat Gear. Just as I was leaving I realized that I didnít bring a shirt. Every time that I have had to take a shower now, I have forgotten something. Today it was a shirt. It really wasnít a problem as it is very hot. I loaded everything back on the bike and go back to the campsite and hang up my clothes to dry.

I grabbed the laptop and went over to the restroom to borrow some power and type up todayís entry for my blog. I will send these entries in as soon as I can get some internet access again. The National Parks have nice campgrounds, but no power and no internet.

2009 April 24th

I slept real good last night and got up slowly. I didnít want to get going to fast and end up waiting for the visitorís center to open, so I took my time.

I got everything loaded up and was on the road to Chisoís Mountain area of the park. This place was way up in the mountain and had a great view of the valley and of the peaks that were way up there. I got my passport stamped and went back down to Panther Jct., where I filled up with gas and I stopped at the visitorís center there and stamped my passport again. I also bought a Texas state park map. I headed out of the park and followed the road to Marathon, TX and then on to Sanderson, TX where I got fuel and bought an apple to eat.

I was stopped at some construction at a bridge that crosses the Pecos River. I saw a rest area looking place on the other side of the river, so when the construction let me go I stopped to have a look. I was also followed by several other bikers and we all stood around and chatted for a few minutes.

Just down the road was Amistad National Recreation Area. This was a surprise to me as I was not expecting to see a huge lake. I went across the bridge and stopped at one of the boat launch areas to take some pictures.

I went further down the road and stopped at the visitorís center, and since it is part of the National Park system I got my passport stamped. I spoke to a very informative and knowledgeable person there named Mellissa. She was very helpful and pointed me towards a place to stay and that is how I ended up a RV Park called The Lonesome Dove.

I was met by a very generous woman named Cathy who helped me find a place to setup my tent and wash some clothes. She also invited me to have a sandwich with some of the regulars in the meeting room. I went to take a shower and then I had a great meal with these people. We sat around and talked for a long while.

I made a few phone calls and then posted the journal entries on the blog.
Tomorrow I should be at the Gulf, where the real trip begins.

2009 April 25th

When I woke up this morning the sky was all grey and filled with clouds. I thought that maybe it might rain. The birds were loud and many, but when I looked at my watch I realized that I had slept in a little. It was almost 7am, and most every day Iíve been up before 6am. This information got me going.

I started right away to pack things up and get the bike loaded. Once finished I stopped by the office to say thanks to everyone for there hospitality and then down the road I went.

The scenery today was very much ranch after ranch after ranch. The only way I knew that there were different ranches, was that each one had a different entrance gate. The more elaborate the gate it seemed the bigger the ranch. In general the scenery never changed. Rolling hills and sage brush with some cattle here and there.

I ended up having a very long riding day with 11 and a half hours in the saddle with only gas stops and one short break for a sub sandwich. I rode well over 600 miles today. The GPS screwed me up and decided on its own to change the way I went. I ended up taking the same road down to Boca Chica that I was supposed to take back up to Corpus Christi, TX.

Aside from the cloudy skies, it was also very windy. The wind was no where near as bad as the second day trying to get to Phoenix, but it was still a struggle.

I started out in Del Rio, TX and rode to the southern most tip of Texas where the Rio Grade River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico. The waves were very rough and the skies were grey and it was very windy.

On the upside, on the way back I was able to ride at nearly 85 mph and felt like there was no wind at all. I like having a tail wind. I was able to find a place to stay in Corpus Christi, near the USS Lexington, which I plan to visit tomorrow. Afterwards, I think that I will continue on and see if I can get out of Texas.

2009 April 26th

I was rudely awakened this morning by the sound of Revelly playing from the ship that was two blocks away. I chose this hotel because it was cheap and it was close to the ship. I didnít know that they were going to play Revelly loud enough to wake the city at the crack of dawn.

I got up and tried the internet, and it worked. I uploaded the entry for the blog from the night before and was able to finish uploading pictures to home. I also checked my email and fixed some issues on the GPS program. It was nice being up so early. I got ready and checked with the lady at the desk to see if I could stash the luggage until I got back from my visit on the ship. The lady let me put everything in their laundry room and so I did.

I walked over to the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, a short two block walk. I only had to wait a couple of minutes for them to open as I was just barely early.

There was a lot of activity going on and there must have been nearly a thousand boy scouts running around. Since the ship offers overnight sleepovers for large groups, I figured thatís what was going on.

I started my self guided tour and went up to the flight deck first. The second tour went to the island or bridge. The third and fourth tour went below decks to the galley, quarters and other places. I found all of this very interesting. The last thing was a movie in the theater. I did all of the tours and the movie and was finished up before noon.

I walked back the hotel and got changed for riding and then I packed up the bike and headed out. I stopped for gas first and noticed that the bike needed oil, so I bought a quart and put in enough to bring it to the top of the sight window. I had oiled the chain the night before so I was ready to go.

I headed north east toward Houston, TX and I had to stop for gas before I got there. I filled up about 40 miles south of Houston, and rode all the way through and beyond. I was looking for an RV park to camp for the night. The GPS had led me astray again. This time I followed it to a RV park and ended up in a residential neighborhood. The next one didnít even have a driveway and the third time, it was someoneís house. I actually stopped because there was several RVís park there.

After talking to these people, I found out that the guy next door owned a RV park just up the road, so I went next door to find out more about it. It turned out that they were right and he told me to go down there and pitch my tent any where I wanted. The guy was very nice and wouldnít accept any money for the site. Thank You, Rodney. The other thing was that I was in Louisiana and I didnít even know it. I had crossed a bridge a ways back which put me across the border.

I talked to several people that have been staying here and they told me that most of them are working up the road rebuilding some large facility. This area has been hit by several storms and there are large piles of debris in the front yard of most of the properties. The one place I stopped to ask about the RV Park, their RV was sitting on the slab where the house used to sit. They lost their whole house.

One of the things that I noticed today while riding was that there seemed to be a lot of homes up on stilts or pilings to put the house up high enough to avoid flood damage.

Riding today was difficult because it was very windy, but as I was riding, it occurred to me that, riding at an angle like I was, was wearing the sides of my tires and not the center. This is making the tires last longer.

Not only did I luck out with a free campsite, I was also able to get an extension cord from one of the guys here and someone has a wireless router working, so I have internet as well. Life is good, especially when you least expect it.

Now I just need to find some of this great Cajun food people keep telling me about.

2009 April 27th

Today was a very pleasant day. I got very little sleep last night due to the amount of wind that seemed to be constantly blowing. When the other people in the RV Park were getting ready to go to work at 5:30am, they woke me up. I got up and said my thanks to the guys that helped me out with power. I tried to go back to sleep, but that was worthless. I got up and started to get everything loaded onto the bike. I decided that instead of risking trying to go forward some 45 Ė 50 miles to the next gas station, I would just go back the 25 miles to a station that I past. I knew that I could make that and was nearly certain I wouldnít be able to make the other.

I got fuel and then went back the way I came. I stopped a couple of times to take some photos of some of the houses that had suffered during the last couple of storms. There was still quite a bit of destruction visible and it gave me a very humble feeling. In many places there were pilings sticking out of the ground with no house on top. With many piles of debris and derelict vehicles that used to be motor homes that had been stripped to the frame. Almost every yard had a pile of debris gathered up near the driveway waiting to be hauled off. It was hard to think of the losses some of these people had suffered. I rode on and upward more to the north and I got into some beautiful bayou country, with lots of large trees and waterways. I past numerous fields of rice farms and the smell of Lilac blooms filled the air. On parts of the ride, the road was lined with flowers, and all of the colors made it just beautiful.

I had been told by several different people since I started this journey that I should stop in Breaux Bridge, LA and eat some real Cajon food. Since this has always been one of my favorite foods, I decided to make the slight detour. Getting there was most of the fun. I went through so many small towns with tree lined streets and small brick buildings that just looked old. Every person that I talked to was very hospitable and friendly.

I had stopped at one point just to take a break, and a state trooper pulled up a few minutes later just to see if everything was alright. He was very cordial and was more than curious about my trip by asking me all these questions. It was nice to talk to him. When I got to Breaux Bridge, I stopped in at the visitorís center and asked them where to go eat. The ladyís there were telling me way too much information, but I finally figured out where I wanted to go eat. I chose to go to this place called ĎCrazy íBout Crawfishí. I had a very good lunch with a cup of seafood gumbo and a crabcake burger. It may sound strange, but it was very good. The portions were big but I ate most of it.

I got back on the road and stopped in Baton Rouge, LA. I had almost fallen asleep while riding on the interstate, so I figured it was time to find a place to stay. I stopped at a gas station and made some calls. After several calls, I decided to go to a motel 6. I was hesitant due to some prior experiences with the super cheap accommodations.

I had asked a lot of questions on the phone, so when I got there I just wanted my room. I unloaded the bike and one of the cleaning crew said that I should park the bike under the stairs because it was predicted to rain. I took that advice. I went up to the room and had a good shower. I went to set up the computer and couldnít get the internet to function. I called down to the front desk and the girl told me that it cost and extra $3.00. This sort of upset me because when I called I asked if they had internet and she said yes, but she didnít tell me that it cost extra. I ran down and paid for this service even though most of the rest of the hotels offer FREE wireless these days.

I had a pile of clothes that needed to be washed and so I took them down to the laundry facility. I tossed the clothes in a washer and went to buy some soap from the soap dispenser. I put in the quarters and got nothing. I went to the front desk to inform them that the machine took the money but didnít give me the product. The girl at the counter said that she would refund my money but she couldnít do anything about getting me some soap. This again had been one of those questions I had asked before I went there. I grabbed up my laundry and went back to my room and wash some of it by hand using a bar of soap and hung them up to dry in the shower. So, the moral of the story is, donít stay at a Motel 6 in Baton Rogue because the bitch behind the counter has forever ruined my experience of visiting Baton Rogue, LA. She was very rude and could care less that she had lied to me about all of the questions I had asked prior to going. I could have paid under $10 more and I would have had a more pleasant experience at a more quality place. Cheaper isnít always better.

I also wanted to mention that I saw a lot of remains of armadillos on the road. I would not want to hit one with the bike as they look like a very hard speed bump that might ruin my day. There were also a lot of snakes and some skunks on the roads. The one that really got me though was right after I had got gas first thing in the morning. I saw an alligator by the side of the road. The part that got me was that I thought it was debris until I got closer and the tail moved. This immediately freaked me out but I was already past it. It just goes to show that when you are in a strange area, you need to be even more aware of your surroundings.

Tomorrow I plan to leave right away and go up to New Orleans, LA and drive through the French quarter and on to Biloxi, MS, where I was born.

2009 April 28th

I had a good nights sleep last night and got up ready to go. I had spent some time on the phone with a very good friend that lives just outside Atlanta, GA last night. I have made a slight change in my route to go visit her because I needed to order a new tire for the bike and I had to have a place to ship it to. The first thing that I did this morning was to order the tire. The estimated arrival date was to be the 5th of May or next Tuesday. I have some maintenance that needs to be performed on the bike like it needs an oil change and a couple of other minor things need to be looked at.

Once I had ordered the tire, I got everything packed up and on the bike. I left and headed toward New Orleans, LA. I rode down by the French Quarter and the convention center, but I was unable to stop for any pictures as traffic was bad and the parking was too far away for me to feel safe enough to leave the bike. I got back on the road and continued on my route.

I did not know or remember that at one point my route took me on a ferry and when I got to that point I was surprised. I took a ferry across the Mississippi River. It was a new experience, to ride a ferry with a motorcycle.

I continued on my route and before too long I was in Mississippi. The route led me down Beach Blvd. which was being cleaned by many different crews. They were cleaning up the sand that must have been blown off of the beach and onto the road. It reminded me of shoveling snow after a snow storm, only these guys were using heavy equipment.

Once I got into Biloxi, MS, I took a turn and went to look for the military base where I was born. It took a little bit of effort but I found Keesler Air Force Base without a problem. I stopped at one of the gates to take a picture and the guard on duty asked me what I was doing and when I told her she just said ďOKĒ and walked off. I snapped a couple of pictures and then rode off. I went back to Beach Blvd. and continued on the route.

This is where I had made a change in plan and turn my route toward the North and East. I had decided that instead of going out of my way to go to Barber Motorsports museum that I would turn now and make that stop on my way to my friendís in the Atlanta area.

Once the bike has been taken care of, I will go back South and return to my predetermined route around the gulf coast and eventually to the Florida Keys.

I rode for quite a long while and stopped in Thomasville, AL to get some fuel. The bike had gone over 220 miles and had still not gone on reserve yet. When I filled up the tank it took just over 4 gallons so, Iím getting over 50 mpg now. In Texas, fighting all of that wind the mileage was less 40mpg. It keeps improving the further I go.

When I stopped for gas, I had asked an officer if he knew of an RV Park nearby. He gave me directions, but I never found it. I had considered several times to do some renegade camping. This is camping on land that is for sale or behind a church or school. Or just finding a spot off of the road far enough. It was getting dark and I just wasnít feeling very good about any of those options.

I came to a small town and saw a hotel that looked abandoned except for the sign that said OPEN and it was well lit up with lights. I stopped and knocked on the door. A man came out and I asked if I could just pitch a tent out in the back yard. His wife came out and we talked for a few minutes and they were OK with letting me just camp out. I drove the bike around the back and then they said that they would rather I just slept in a room. They opened a room for me and told me to sleep here and not worry about the tent. I really want to Thank Rachel and Josh for there astounding generosity. You have completely made up for the actions of another at the Motel 6. I have been shocked and humbled by the friendliness and at how generous the people in the south have been to me. The people I have met on this journey have made it so great for me.

I wanted to say that I was saddened this morning when I saw within a very short amount of time 4 different birds of prey dead on the side of the road. Iím not sure if they were Hawks or Falcons; all I know is that I saw 4 of them all within a couple of miles. I think that the armadillo is still in the lead for the most found on the side of the road but there was a new entry today, I saw a lot of opossum today and a couple of wild pigs, or, Javalinaís.

Everyday seems to be a new experience for me on this trip. Tomorrow I will be stopping at the Barber Motorsports Museum. Iím currently less than a hundred miles from there, so I have a short ride in the morning. After the museum I will look for a place to camp.

2009 April 29th

I slept like a rock last night. I woke up feeling great. I took a shower and got ready to go. I took some time and spoke with Rachel and Josh. We talked about all kinds of things. These people are the genuine article. If you are ever in Marion, AL, stop in at the Marion Hotel and they will make sure that you have a pleasant stay.

I got the bike packed up and took off for Barber Motorsports Museum. My ride to get there was through thick forest of large old growth trees that shaded the highway on both sides. I had very little traffic and perfect temperature for riding. It was a very beautiful ride.

I got there in just under 2 hours and when I walked through the doors I was overwhelmed. The place is fantastic. There are so many pristine examples of old vintage and even modern motorcycles, that I was amazed.

I was fortunate enough to see the Guggenheim Ė Art of Motorcycle exhibit when it was in LasVegas and this place blew that exhibit out of the water. The lady who sold me my ticket, Katy, said to go to the top floor and work my way down. On the fifth floor, right in front, was the Britten. This is one of the most famous bikes ever built and there are only a handful of them around. Later, I saw the 2008 Bimota Ė Tesi 3D. This is an Italian made bike without front forks. It has a swing arm in front with center hub steering. Just being able to see these two perfect examples of engineering made it worth the trip for me.

The AMA races are being held at Barber this weekend so there was quite a bit of hustle and bustle going on outside with trucks from the big names pulling in. I spoke with several people while walking through and one of them was going to be in the races this weekend. He said that he was from Canada and had driven down to be in the race. I wish him well and hope that he does good racing.

I spent several hours wandering around in the museum and I even went back to look at some of the bikes again. As much as I wanted to stay, I felt that I needed to get rolling and get to the campground.

I found the campground without any problems and spoke to the owner for quite awhile. She was a very nice woman and she told my where to setup. This RV Park is right on a beautiful lake and the water was smooth as glass. I was immediately relaxed and felt like I was right at home.

Once I got my tent setup I went back towards town where this nice gentleman had told me that I should go to eat. The place was called Charlieís Country Catfish. I had two pieces of grilled catfish with some onion rings and it was awesome. It really hit the spot for me as I have been craving fish for several days now.

I filled the bike up with gas and went back to the park. I took a shower and hand washed my Heat Gear and hung it up to dry.

I sat down with my laptop and finished watching a movie that I started a couple of days ago. I wrote my journal, but since this is another night without internet access, I will have to post later.

2009 April 30th

I took my time getting things packed up and ready to go this morning. I also took the laptop and wandered around with it trying to find some wireless that I could connect to so that I could update the blog. I found nothing. Once everything was packed and ready to go, I rode over to the office and told the owners that I enjoyed their place and then I left. I got on the road and before I knew it I was at Talladega Speedway.

I stopped and went through the gift shop. Iím not that into NASCAR but it was cool to stop and have a look. I couldnít get over to the track as they had it all blocked off.

I got back on the road and soon I came to a small town and spotted a fruit stand. I actually drove past and then decided to turn around and go back. I had a banana and an orange. I ate them while I was there. The lady that was running the place offered me some boiled peanuts. I had never heard of boiled peanuts before and I wasnít sure why you would want to boil peanuts. Iím willing to try anything once so I had some of the Cajun flavored and some of the just salted ones. They were like eating cooked beans, kind of soft with the same texture. They were very tasty, but I couldnít carry any so I didnít buy any to take with me.

Just up the road was the border between Alabama and Georgia, and just past the border was the visitorís center. I had to stop in and see if I could get a map of Georgia. The ladyís that were working there were so very nice and they loaded me up with all kinds of information about places to see and visit.

I got back on the road and had to ride the interstate for quite awhile. The GPS took me right to my good friend, Deonaís work place. She wanted me to meet her there, but when I had arrived I was 3 hours early.

I took off and found a Kawasaki dealership so that I could pick up an oil filter for the bike and find out if they had any tires. They had no tires and they had very high prices to mount up a tire. One of the sales reps was very cool and gave me a phone number of a place that might be able to help me get a tire mounted up cheaper.

The sales reps were funny and were very surprised that I had ridden that bike all the way from Denver. I had a good laugh with those guys.

Since I was killing some time, I rode around checking out the town and then stopped for gas and then stopped to grab an ice cream. I made a couple of phone calls and then it was time to go meet up with Deona.

The thing about Deona is that her family and my family grew up together and we had not seen each other for letís just say many, many years. We talked with her friend in the parking lot for a few minutes and then we left to go to her house. The ride to her house was great, nice corners and fun. I met Bill her boyfriend when we got to the house. I unpacked the bike and then we sat down and talked the rest of the night just catching up. It was truly great. We were up so late that I didnít get a chance to do any internet stuff, so I will get to it in the morning.

2009 May 1st

Today I was out to help Deona move some stuff out of a friendís house and into storage. We had a couple of errands to do before we could get to the house. We stopped at a store and picked up a few items.

When we got to the house the truck had been delivered and we started to pack and fill the truck.

Deonaís kids showed up to help but were only there for a few minutes. They did help us get a bed into the truck. While we were cleaning out the closet, we found some Porterís (beer) in a bag and shared a couple.

Once we had the truck full and we were done we followed the truck over to the storage place and unloaded it. We were able to unload very quickly and we were done.

The owner of the storage place was a vintage motorcycle restorer and so I just had to go over to his shop and say hello and see what was going on. He had a few bikes in the shop that he was working on. I asked about getting a tire mounted and he gave me a name of someone to check with.

We headed back to Deona and Billís place and Bill had already started on dinner. We had a wonderful dinner of Ostrich steaks and salad and vegetables.

Since we were all worn out from doing all of the moving we had a short conversation and then we all retired for the night.

2009 May 2nd

Deona and I went up to Stone Mountain State Park and we took the tram up to the top. We hiked around on top and sat down for awhile and watched the clouds roll by. It was cloudy, so cloudy that we were unable to see the downtown area of Atlanta, GA. Stone Mountain is a huge granite boulder that sticks way up out of the ground and is the highest point in Georgia. We stayed longer than we should have but still we reluctantly left to go to someplace better.

I had done some research on orchid growers in the south and the name that kept coming up was a place called Peach State Orchids. We really wanted to go and check out some flowers. I was seriously overwhelmed by the sheer volume of plants that they had. We spent a long time there just looking and taking pictures and talking to the owners.

When we left, we went out to dinner and then back to Deonaís for the evening. It was a full and rewarding day.

2009 May 3rd

Today was a real kick-back day. I did some maintenance on the bike. I changed the oil and lubed the chain and the speedometer cable. I also tried to find out why the GPS quit giving me the turn commands. I found out that it didnít stop giving the commandís, it is just that the volume is so low I canít hear it while riding. I have no idea what to do or why it suddenly has this problem.

I caught up on some emails and did some other small items around here. Mainly Iím just waiting for a tire and then I can get back on the road. The tire is due to be delivered on Tuesday.

2009 May 5th

Cinco de Mayo. I sat around for most of the morning. I played a game and did some work on the MapSource program. The tire got here around 1:30pm and I called Endless Cycle and he said to come on out. I packed up what I needed and took off out to Dahlonega, GA. Endless Cycle was a neat place with lots of vintage bikes and the owner was real cool. I pulled up and immediately took the rear wheel off of the bike and then Phil mounted the new tire on it in no time flat. I spent more time trying to get the wheel back onto the bike than he did mounting it.

I went back inside and took a few pictures of some of his vintage machines and had a good look around. If you are ever in Dahlonega, GA, stop by and checkout the fine selection of vintage Harley parts and bikes. http://www.endlesscycle.com/. Thanks, Phil, for your help.

I just barely beat Bill and Deona home from work. We decided to celebrate Cinco De Mayo and went out to a Mexican Restaurant for some dinner. Of course the place was busy and we had to wait a little while, but the food was great and the service was excellent. The waiter even brought out tequila shots for all of us at our table for the celebration. It was good fun.

It looks like my wonderful stay with my lifelong friend, Deona, is over for now and I will be moving on back to the gulf coast tomorrow. The journey continues.

2009 May 6th

The long awaited departure was today. Not that I didnít enjoy being at my good friend Deonaís this whole time, I did. It is just that I felt like I should be on the road and doing my thing. Thank You Bill and Deona for being such great hosts and putting up with me.

This morning when I left Deonaís the skies were dark and grey. It looked like I might be in for a wet day. The further South I headed the better the skies got. I had a dry day all day.

The GPS led me right through downtown Atlanta, GA this morning so I did get to see it even if the clouds covered most of the buildings. The GPS was making me very mad today. For some unknown reason (programming flaw) when I was on the interstate, it would tell me to exit and then tell me to get back on again. It caught me the first time but every time after that, I caught it. This must have happened like 8 or 9 times. The other thing is I canít hear the commands anymore and drove past my turn several times. It also said that I was ďoff routeĒ and it was showing the road that I was supposed to be on, but that road didnít exist. An invisible road. I was thinking that some how it thought that I was flying a plane. When I got into Pensacola, FL, the GPS told me to take an exit that didnít exist. I think that was due to construction changes, but it was hard to get to the road that it wanted me to take. Well, all things considered, I still got to where I wanted to go. It just took a little more effort.

The bike has been running like a champ and Iím getting over 200 miles per tank and using right at 4 gallons. Not too bad considering the load Iím carrying.

When I got to the campground, the lady at the desk told me where I should go to eat, only because I asked. She suggested this little place called The Crazy Horse Cafť. I had some fish with vegetables and a piece of cake. It was all very good and very reasonably priced.

When I got back from having dinner, I went up to the pool and sat in the hot tub for awhile. I jumped into the pool to cool off and to my surprise, it was salt water. There were some other people swimming and they said that is normal for this area. Iíd never heard of it except on the cruise ship we were on. That only made sense because they got the water from the ocean. I took a walk around the campground after the pool thing mainly so that my swimsuit would dry out. This park has bayside cabins, a dock and some beach. It was good long walk.

I went back to the tent and started to get ready for bed and do the blog.

2009 May 7th

Today started out very slow and laid back. I got things packed up and ready to go easily. I took the bike down to the dock and took some pictures of Perdido Bay. The weather looked clear and sunny. I took off to meet up with my route that got interrupted. I drove through numerous small towns with 25 to 35 mph being the norm. I followed the beach for many miles.

I was having a difficult time smelling the salt sea air over all of the sweet smelling Jasmine plants and Magnolia trees, but every now and then I could smell the sea. My sense of smell was given a sharp stench when I rode by a paper mill. YUCK!

One of the things that struck me hard today was, there were so many properties for sale. At a guess, I would have to say that more than 80% of the beach front houses in Panama City, FL and Destin, FL were up for sale. This is just another sign of the economy. People try to get rid of excess inventory in hard times. It is definitely a buyers market if you have the resources.

I saw a lot of scenic stuff today. The rows of beach houses and the beaches themselves were very scenic with the beautiful white sand and blue water. There were people everywhere, walking dogs, riding bicycles and scooters. Some people were walking and others were running. There was just a lot of activity all along the beach areas.

My GPS stopped giving me commands for turns altogether today. I actually had to break out a map and figure out where to go. And to think, I was told that I wouldnít need to take any maps with a GPS. The mapping program that I used to create the routes is terribly flawed and it has a lot of problems. Before I go to sleep tonight, I need to figure out what went wrong.

The bike got exceptional mileage today driving at those slow speeds. I got 232 miles before switching over to reserve today. It still only took 4 gallons of gas to fill it.

I stopped for the night in Perry, FL. I had a little laundry to do. I made a few calls while I was waiting for the clothes. I got a slight discount tonight as the pool is being worked on and was not available. That was nice, although I would have liked to have gone swimming.

Today is my brother in law, Larryís birthday and also my good friend Shawn. Happy Birthday guys, I hope that you have a good one. I was informed by a guy in the park tonight that there is a shuttle launch scheduled for Monday afternoon. I just might be able to put that into my agenda.

2009 May 8th

I was awoken by the people in the campsite next to me this morning. They were up and packing and putting things away getting ready to leave before 5:00am. I got up just because I couldnít sleep anymore with them doing their thing.

I took my time and was on the road at 7:30am. I had a slight scare when I went to leave. I started the bike and was ready to go when I realized that I had not put in my earplugs (a common occurrence). I shut off the bike and took off my helmet and insert the earplugs, then put my helmet back on. When I went to start the bike it barely turned over and wouldnít start. Luckily I was able to push the bike to the pavement and got it going fast enough to bump it and it started right up and I was off. I had accidently left the key on while I put up the tent and stuff; about 20 minutes the night before.

It was a little chilly and very moist this morning. Just before I left, this heavy fog moved into the area. I could see the blue sky above me but not very far in front of me. It was so moist, it was gathering on my face shield.

The first 200 miles were very fast and at a real good clip. After that I was in traffic most of the rest of the day.

Being in traffic was a little different. People were rolling down their windows and asking me questions; mostly in disbelief that I was from Colorado. I have put on 5700 miles so far on the bike so it feels like I'm from Colorado to me. I got a couple of thumbs up and some strange looks too. One kid even asked me what I do for a living; I told him that I ride my bike. Now I need to make that come true.

My plan today was to get to the Fort Meyers, FL KOA campground and stay with them. When I got there, it was still early. I asked the guy if he could call the KOA in Naples, FL and see if they had any campsites for tents. I ended up talking to the lady myself and soon figured out that they didnít have any sites for me as she was quoting $55 for a tent site. I told her that I could stay in a hotel for that much. I said goodbye and then started to ask the guy about their tent sites. He told me that his tent sites were $35. The more questions I asked the worst the answers got. When I asked about wireless internet, he said that the first 4 hours is free after that we charge. Then he told me that if for some reason I get disconnected whether Iím on for 4 hours or 5 minutes, my time would be up. That was the last straw for me. I thanked him for his help and left.

I rode on down to Naples, FL and had a beautiful ride. It was slow and meandering, riding through some very expensive neighborhoods with nice homes. I even had a late model Bentley pass by me, then he turned down one of the side streets. You donít see those cars everyday. One strange observation with these nice neighborhoods; there were no for sale signs. I went by hundreds of homes and maybe 3 signs. Go figure.

I had to stop for gas and take a break. I made a few phone calls and I could not find a campground anywhere for under $60. I looked up hotels.com and got their phone number. I talked to a guy who put me in a very nice Best Western near the airport for $63. That beats camping any day. Internet is FREE and they serve breakfast.

I got unloaded and then took a shower and got some dinner. When I came back from my short walk to dinner, I changed and went out to the pool and hot tub. That was just what I needed after 10 hours of sitting on the bike.

My plan was to stay at the KOA near Key West, FL tomorrow, but since I had a difficult time dealing with the people at the last 2 KOAís, I decided to give hotels.com a call and I booked a room at a Holiday Inn for tomorrow night. Now I just have to make it through the Everglades NP and then on to Key West tomorrow.

2009 May 9th

This morning I woke up later than normal, but I got up and went to the complimentary breakfast at the hotel. It was good and it set me up for the whole day. I got ready to go and was on the road well before 9am. I got back on my planned route and was at Everglades National Park shortly after 10am. I got my passport stamped at the north end visitorís center and then headed for the east entrance visitorís center. I got there by 11:30am and got my passport stamped. I drove 38 more miles to the Flamingo Center to get a stamp but they were closed. It would have been nice had a ranger informed me that the visitorís center is only open Monday through Friday. I rode nearly 80 miles out of my way for a couple of pictures of the gulf. There werenít even any flamingos.

I rode out of the park and headed for Key West, FL. The road was full of traffic and the speed limit was only 45 mph with very short sections of 55 mph. My goal was to make it to the point that says the Southern Most Point of the USA and get a picture. When I arrived, it was very crowded. I got a quick picture and moved on. I figured that I would try again in the morning; maybe it wonít be so crowded.

I went to the hotel and got checked in. The concierge in the lobby suggested this place a short walk away for dinner. The dinner was a little pricy, but very good. I think that the cost of living is just plain high here at the end of a long highway. The concierge also gave me some free drink coupons for a couple of bars downtown, but I decided that it would be too crowded for a Saturday night and I went to the pool instead.

The pool was large and there were quite a few people hanging out. I sat in the hot tub for awhile and then went into the pool. It was not very deep. I swam around a little bit and then went back to the hot tub for awhile longer.

It was very hot most of the day and I was having second thoughts about wearing all of my gear. I hung in and wore it until I got to the southernmost point and then I took off my helmet and undid my jacket and then rode to the hotel all of maybe 3 miles at 30 mph. In this small island town, there were lots and lots of scooters buzzing around. Nobody wears any safety gear at all. Mostly shorts, tank tops and flip flops. Getting around in this town on a scooter would be the ideal way to go. The speed limit is low and the island is small.

In the roadkill department today, I came across several gators rotting in the sun. The smell of sun-ripened gator is one I wish I had not experienced. They smell worse than anything I have ever experienced to date.

I also saw a lot of wildlife today. A small wild pig ran across the road and a raccoon was running down the side of the road; I think he wanted to cross but was waiting for the traffic to clear. I also saw a wild turkey standing on the edge of the highway just watching; he wasnít any bigger than a large chicken.

In Naples, FL this morning I saw 2 more Bentleys and a bright yellow Lamborghini came up from behind me and passed me. He was really cruising too.

Just before I got to the east entrance to the national park, there was at least 20 miles of nurseries; one right after the other. Lots of them were growing palm trees and other exotic types of trees and lot of citrus. Some of these nurseries specialized in orchids, but I didnít stop.

Tomorrow I would like to make it north of Miami and find a campground for the night. The shuttle launch is scheduled for launch at 2:01pm on Monday. I would like to make it to the area, but all tickets have been sold out to get close enough to actually see the shuttle liftoff. I may end up having to go to some park or the beach or something.

2009 May 10th

Happy Motherís Day! I woke up around 7am this morning, feeling well rested. I took my time getting ready and I had everything ready to go and I was on the road by 8:30am. I decided to just get going and not go back to the southernmost point and take more pictures. I wanted to get through the only part of my trip that I had been dreading. Miami. I donít know why I was concerned, but I was.

After riding the Overseas Highway, I took the Card Sound Bridge to get to Miami. I came into the Miami area via some beautiful residential neighborhood where the roads were lined with Banyan trees. They were so big that it was literally a tunnel of shade. All of these homes were very large mansions with very well groomed yards. I was enjoying this nice easy slow pace with lots of beautiful yards and flowers.

Things turned very bad very quickly. The next thing I knew is that I was in a downtown area with all kinds of cars, and everyone wanted to get through. The problem was that there were cars trying to park and other cars blocking the road because they were waiting for valet service and people everywhere. It was insane. A scooter passed me and drove through between cars and got around some of this mess. I decided to turn the aggression knob up a few notches and follow some cues from the scooter rider. I started to weave and bob my way through this mess and in the course of things I almost took out a bicycle cop that was crossing the street against a red light following his buddy. I had to lock up the brakes just to keep from hitting him and I had the right of way. People were crossing the street whenever they wanted and this just added to the mayhem. I realized then that I needed to go full volume on the aggression meter, so I cranked it to the max. I know that I broke several laws, but no one got hurt and I made it out of there alive. Before too long, I was in smoother traffic and moving a little easier. It still took many miles for me to calm down after all of that.

I think that the Motherís Day holiday really was to blame for all of the craziness because every park and beach access area was jammed full of cars and people. There were lines of cars trying to get into all of the parks and people crossing the streets whenever and wherever they pleased. I also think that some of the problems with the traffic was caused by the long legged scenery walking around being a heavy distraction.

The only smell that I can remember today was the smell of charcoal brickets and people barbequing on the beach. There was one point where I could smell suntan oil but that was brief.

The ocean was a beautiful blue every time I was able to see it. I now know where the color aquamarine comes from. The water in the Keys was that exact color.

The GPS locked up and stopped on the same screen. I could not turn it off and it would not respond to any of the buttons that I pushed. I did not really need gas but I stopped anyway to fill up and to take a well deserved break. I broke out some tools and removed the GPS from the bike and I had to remove the battery to get it to reset. Once that was fixed, I put everything back together and got moving again.

I rode for about another hour when I came upon a RV park that looked like a good spot to stop. They had a pool and laundry facilities. I took a shower after getting everything setup and then washed some clothes. The site had power and I found some wireless internet.

I had a bite to eat of some more jerky and a tin of kippers. I took a walk around the park a couple of times after a swim as a way to dry out my swimsuit. I met a couple of nice residents here. When it started to get dark, I got in the tent and started to work on the blog and my daily journal. I made a couple of phone calls, but nobody was available until later.

Tomorrow, Iím headed to SpoiledBiker.com, where I got the StarCom system and see if he knows what to do to fix the problem with the GPS and the music fading in and out. I will be able to see the shuttle launch from just about anywhere within 200 miles of Cape Canaveral. Since I will be in the area I should be able to see it when it happens.

2009 May 11th

I had a tough night last night as I couldnít seem to get my mind to shut down and go to sleep. I remember seeing 3am on my watch and I was still wide awake. I know that I woke up around 5:30am and went back to sleep. At 7am a garbage truck came through the RV Park and that was the end of my rest. I got up and started to get things packed up.

I had a simple day planned; go up the coast for a ways and then head inland to go visit the great people at SpoiledBiker.com. They helped me with the StarCom1 communication system that I installed on the bike. Once I got there though, the place was closed and no one was there. I started to go north towards my uncleís Robinís place just past the Georgia border.

I had to ride through parts of Orlando, FL that I remember going to when I was there 3 years ago.

I got on the freeway and headed toward Daytona Beach, FL. Just past Daytona Beach I stopped at a fruit stand to have some fruit for lunch. The people at the stand would not sell me just a single orange or grapefruit, only bags full. I had no room to carry any more so they lost a sale.

I noticed while I was there that it was getting close to the shuttle launch time. I stood outside of the store with the camera ready, but the cloud cover was too thick for me to see anything. At five minutes after, somebody said that it is long gone and it must have been behind the clouds. So as much as I tried the weather made it too difficult for me to see anyway.

I got back on the freeway and before long I was at my Uncle Robinís house. I was a little early, but they were expecting me. I got cleaned up and then got the networking thing going so that later, when I would need it, it would already be done.

We had a great meal for dinner and then Robin wanted to show me around the town a little. We drove around and he showed me the downtown area of this small community and then we went over to his son Mikeís house. They just finished building this place and it was very well done.

When we got back to Robinís house, I showed them some of the pictures that I had been taking from my trip. We talked about a lot of things and had good conversation. I have never really had a chance to get to know my uncle or my cousin, and this has been nice.

I forgot to mention in yesterdayís blog entry that I saw several more Bentleys while I was in the Miami area and a Porsche Carrera GT. A very rare car indeed.

Tomorrow is a day of rest and I will try again to figure out what may be wrong with the StarCom1.

2009 May 12th

I found myself up really late doing emails and working on my computer last night. I got up around 8am this morning feeling well rested. My Aunt Annette made a wonderful breakfast this morning which turned out to be more food than I had eaten in several days. I felt well rested and now much energized.

Robin had a few places that he wanted to show me today, so once we were done with breakfast, we left. We went over to the Navel Base nearby and he gave me a tour of some of the grounds and the missile monument. Getting through security was interesting, but of course, no problem.

While we were driving around we came across very determined gator crossing the road. He wasnít very big but he certainly had his own agenda going on and he wasnít going to let anyone stop him. We had a great laugh. Not far from the gator crossing we came across a mass of vultures eating some road kill, I counted 5 dead wild pigs.

We went through the town of St Marys, GA and stopped at the Cumberland Island National Seashore visitorís center and got a stamp for my passport. They had a nice exhibit on the island and the history of the area. We then stopped at a ruin of an old sugar factory that was built with ďTabbyĒ. This was a form of concrete where they used seashells instead of rocks. The sugar factory was built in 1825 and the foundation of this building was still standing.

We then went over to Mikeís house and I took some pictures of their beautiful home that they had recently finished. Robin also showed me a plot of land that he had purchased on the lake nearby. He was talking about building his next home on this lot and he was giving me the tour. It was a very nice piece of land.

We went back to Robinís and had some lunch and then I worked on the StarCom1 trying once again to figure out what was wrong. We went to Walmart to by a splitter so I could plug in both the iPod and the GPS into the same input. This actually did not work but I tried swapping the jacks and that did work. It made no sense to me, but I didnít care, it was fixed.

I spent a little while working on the MapSource program trying to determine the proper way to get moving north. I also uploaded all of the pictures that I took today. It was pretty quiet this afternoon.

Mike came by to pick up his son, Jake and then Robin, Annette and I went to dinner and we had a fine meal. We spent the rest of the evening back at the house engaged in interesting conversation.

Tomorrow I leave to head up north toward Cape Hatteras. I have always wanted to visit Kitty Hawk, and see where the first flight took place.

2009 May 13th

I woke up early this morning. I didnít know that anyone else was up so I was trying to be quiet in the room. My back has been sore so I laid on the floor and tried to get it to crack. That didnít seem to work so I sat up and folded my legs and tried to meditate for a few minutes. This position made my back feel better. I got up to go out to the kitchen and Robin and Annette were both up watching TV on the couch.

I sat down and had a fresh ruby red grapefruit for breakfast and then I started to get all of the luggage taken out to the bike. I moved the bike out of the garage and did a pre-flight check. Everything was good. I lubed the chain because I forgot to on Monday night. It still looked OK but Iíve been doing it anyway.

Once everything was loaded, I thanked my Uncle Robin and Aunt Annette for all of their great hospitality and then rode off. I got on the I-95 freeway and rode that until just past the South Carolina border where I turned onto highway 17. I pretty much stayed on that the rest of the day.

The temperature was much cooler and it started to rain a little bit just north of Savanna, GA, but it wasnít enough to get me wet. I did stop though and zip up all of the vents in my jacket and put on a tee shirt.

The whole way today, I was seeing a lot of bikes on the road. When I got to Myrtle Beach, SC, I realized why. It is Bike Week in Myrtle Beach this week. There were literally thousands of motorcycles. They easily out numbered the car 10 to 1. Every parking lot that I past had rows and rows of bikes lined up. There was a ďYĒ in the road with signs saying heavy congestion, and I didnít even go that way and it was packed with bikes.

I did my best to ride straight on through. Most of the bikes were Harleyís but there were a few that werenít. Iím guessing that I was the only one on a Ninja 250 and I didnít see another person wearing a hi-viz green jacket. I definitely felt out of place.

As I got into Jacksonville, NC, I past a military base and I saw a V-22 Osprey in flight hovering. I really wanted to stop and take a picture but by the time I got to a place where I could, the plane pitched and went the other direction. These planes are one of the coolest aircraft made.

I rode until it was almost dark, which was almost a bummer, because I had a difficult time finding a RV Park to stay in. I did find one but they were closed. There was a number to call on the door, so I called it and Angela was nice enough to come over to the office and let me have tent site. She told me that normally they donít allow motorcycles because of the noise. Once she heard how quiet the little Ninja was she was OK with it. I was relieved and very grateful. Thank You, Angela at Goose Creek Resort in Newport, NC.

I got my tent set up in record time and then I found internet and so I was able to post tonight.

The reason that I rode so late today was because I was trying to get close to the ferry for tomorrow. My plan is to take a ferry across to Okracoke Island and the other to Haterras Island. These two ferries will take almost three hours, so I wanted to get an early start. Iím also guessing that the speed limit is fairly low so it will take awhile to ride to the northern end which has a bridge.

2009 May 14th

Today turned out to be a rather slow day. I woke up way before the alarm that I set went off. I was slow at getting things packed up. It still didnít take too long and I was ready to go. I left as quietly as I could for Angelaís sake and headed down the highway.

When I got to the ferry port, I was 30 minutes late to catch the 7:30 launch. The next ferry was at 10:30. The 10:30 ferry was the one I had planned to take but, since I got up so early, I thought that I could make it to the 7:30 ferry. I ended up having to wait 2 hours.

I got my ticket and then I went back down the road to the local grocery store and picked out some fruit for breakfast. I sat down and ate my fruit with some of the locals at the store. Nice people. The Town of Cedar Island, NC only had about 300 people total and they all knew each other.

I went back to the ferry visitorís center and picked up some literature about the area. I went outside and took a few pictures and then sat down on a bench outside. I soon found myself dozing off, so I laid down on the bench and took a nap. It wasnít too very long and more people showed up including a bus full of school kids on field trip.

Two bikers from California got in line behind me so we ended up talking quite a bit. They came out here in a motor home and pulled the bikes in a trailer; they were out her for Myrtle Beach rally. One was an electrician and the other a retired fireman.

When we got on the ferry, they put all of the bikes on last. There was another group of bikes that were behind the bus, but we were all grouped together on the ferry. In this other group, were about 10 guys, all were firefighters from the New York City area that had come down for the rally. Some of the guys started to give me some grief about being on a rice burner until they realized that I had been on the road for over 4 weeks and had come from Colorado. I have a great deal of respect for people who save lives for a living and I hope that I gained their respect as well. People that ride Harleyís donít like to be associated with anyone on a Japanese bike or any other foreign machine for that matter. I donít really think that it is important what bike you ride, only that you do ride.

The ferry ride was 2 hours and 15 minutes to Okracoke, NC and then a short 15 mile ride to the other end of the island to catch another ferry that was 40 minutes to Hatteras Island. Because the seas were a little rough, it was suggested that we all stay close to our bikes. Two of the fireman bikers were getting a little seasick and didnít look too good.

I stopped at the two light houses on the way to the north end of Cape Hatteras and took some pictures. Since they were national monuments, I was also able to get my passport stamped.

The main reason that I wanted to go the Cape Hatteras, was to see the First Flight monument. I arrived just before 4pm and the lady at the gate said that the park closed at 5pm. I was really rushed to see this place and it had taken all day to get here. I got the passport stamped and then I practically ran to each of the areas to see the park. I was unable because of time to go up to the top of the hill where the Wright brothers tested the gliders. I would have really liked to have more time to see everything.

I got back on the road and headed north some more. I stopped for gas and found a message from my good friend Ernie. He lives in Pennsylvania and I will be going to his place tomorrow. I called him and left him a message. I rode for another 45 minutes or so and then stopped to get something to eat.

Before I could get my helmet off this older gentleman had walked up to me and was asking if I had rode that bike from Colorado. I told him yes and then he proceeded to tell me about the trip he had made in 1949-1950 where he had spent the better part of a year riding around this great country. I really soaked that up. This guy didnít have the luxuries that I have and still he traveled all over the country. I was humbled by this old guy and his stories.

I got back on the road hoping to find a place to stay on the north end of Chesapeake, VA. The GPS led me onto the interstate for a little while and then into a tunnel under the bay. I donít believe that I have ever been in a tunnel underwater before. Just on the other side, I found a cheap hotel to stay in.

When I got settled I adjusted the chain and gave it a good lubing again. The chain was very loose and was showing a little bit of brown areas. Iím wondering if the salt sea air is having an effect on it. I have noticed several areas on the bike showing what might be rust. I will be keeping a closer eye on it. The bike will be ready for another oil change by the time I get to my good friend Ernieís house. I will make a point of doing a complete inspection at that time.

2009 May 15th

I was slow getting up this morning. I had a long ride ahead of me, but I had plenty of time. I had everything packed up and I left around 8:15 and hit the road.

The GPS surprised me this morning with some very interesting country roads. It tried at first to take me down a dirt road, but I went around and was rewarded with some very nice curvy roads. I was able to catch up with the route and we ended up at George Washingtonís Birthplace NP.

This was a very cool farm or plantation where he was born. The actual building doesnít exist any more, but the foundation is still in place and so is most of the farm. This park is a very relaxing place to visit. It was very enjoyable to wander around and take pictures and just imagine what life must have been like growing up during those times.

I was kind of on a tight schedule so I needed to get back on the road. I continued on and found myself on more curvy country roads. I must have gotten real close to Washington DC as I past an entrance to Quantico, the military training facility. I also went by Dulles international airport. I went through Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania today.

When I was in Maryland I stopped at a visitorís center and was able to get maps for Maryland and Pennsylvania. So far I have maps for every state that I have been in except Mississippi and Alabama.

My eyes were bothering me, so just after I crossed into Maryland, I stopped to clean them. It turned out that I had a piece of grass in one eye and a bug of some kind in the other.

While I was stopped, my phone rang. It was my good friend Ernie calling me. I had to ask, how did you know that I would be available to answer the phone? He just laughed at me.

I worked with Ernie for many months when we were building a hospital. We were always good friends and it is just a treat to see him and his wife again.

I told Ernie that I still had several hours of riding to go before I would get there.

I wasnít in Maryland for very long, but I sure did like the old country farm houses and the rolling hills of grass and trees. I went through this town and I could sure tell that I was in a New England community. All of the houses lined the streets and were very colonial looking. The churches were plenty and all built from stone. It was easy for me to imagine horse drawn buggies running up and down the streets.

I went over the Allegheny Mountains a couple of times before I got to Ernieís house. When I arrived I didnít have cell phone service, so I had to ask someone walking down the street if he could send a text message to him for me. I saw him standing in the street a few seconds later. He was waving and shouting at me. I had only missed his house by a couple of doors.

We got the bike unloaded and put in the garage and we went into the house. We lost all track of time talking and carrying on. Before we knew it, it had gotten late. I am having a hard time staying awake as Iím posting this.

2009 May 16th

I woke up really late today, but I guess that it was OK because nobody else was up either. Ernie had some business to take care of so Isaac and I did some errands.

We went to a Kawasaki dealer and picked up an oil filter for the bike and then we went over to Wal-Mart and bought some oil. Isaac had another errand to run so he dropped me off back at the house and then took off. Ernie was back from his business, so I got started changing the oil on the bike.

I got the oil changed and then cleaned the air filter and tightened the chain. I also lubed the chain up once more until it was real wet. The chain has been making me real nervous, but I probably donít have anything to worry about.

I really didnít do a whole lot today, just kind of took it easy and tinkered with the bike.

After Isaac got back, he worked on his KTM for a bit. He was trying to get it started. Once it lit off he took it for a ride down the street. We were just beginning to wonder where he had gone for such a long time when we saw him pushing the bike back. It had died down the street and he couldnít get it started again. He was pretty well spent, so he parked the bike and we all went inside. A little bit later, Isaac and I jumped in the truck and went to get some food for everyone. We went to this convenience store that served barbeque. Since Ernie and his family are all from Texas, I thought that it was fitting that we would have some barbeque one night. The food was very good.

We got settled in for the night. Ernie had asked me if there were any movies that I might want to watch. I told him the only one that I saw in his collection was, Marley and Me. This movie turned out to be very good.

It was getting late so we all headed to bed after the movie.

2009 May 17th

Happy Birthday Les! I spent most of my day watching movies with my friend Ernie. I worked on doing some emails and some other computer work. I went through my clothes and got out my long underwear for tomorrows ride. I will be in the mountains most if not all of the day tomorrow and maybe even for the next couple of days. The weather is supposed to be chilly at night with a high around 65 degrees. Certainly much cooler than the temperatures that I experienced in Florida. I had a really wonderful meal prepared by the chef Isaac and his mother Debra, Ernieís wife tonight. It was truly a feast. Most of my stuff is packed and all I have to do is load up and get on the road in the morning. I really donít have much else to say today as it was a real relaxing day spent hanging out with my good friend Ernie. I very much enjoyed the visit with him and his family. Tomorrow I will be on my way to Shenandoah National Park and then the Blue Ridge Parkway.

2009 May 18th

I had a difficult time sleeping last night because of the anticipated departure and thoughts of being on the road again. I lay awake waiting for the ensuing chaos of people hurrying to ready themselves for work. The time soon arrived and the hustle and bustle was happening. I was trying to remain calm and ready myself without getting in the way.

Ernie was, it seemed, unhappy to see me go, but I had no reason to stay any longer. I still have a long way to go. I watched him pull away on his bike bound for work and then I started to load up my bike and readied myself for departure. Even Debra was trying to get me to stay and eat some more food, but I was still full from the meal the night before. I said my goodbyes to Isaac and then he left. Then I said goodbye to Debra and then I left.

It didnít take too long before I was suffering from the cold and I had to stop and put on the balaclava I have been carrying around for several years and have never used. My hands were suffering more than anything, and I stopped numerous times to warm them on the exhaust pipe. I only have summer gloves and no heated clothing or heated hand grips. I had put on the glove liners but they didnít really help much. The moisture in the air was making me really feel the temperature.

I had to stop for a break at this gas station and have some hot chocolate. I met this nice woman named Tracy there, and we started talking about some of the recent events in her life. My thoughts go out to her and I hope that she finds joy and peace in her life. Iím constantly amazed that people, for what ever reason will open up to a total stranger like me, and share some of their pain with me. My only hope for them is that it helps them heal and move on in peace. I have had many such experiences along this journey. It seems that everyone has a story that they want to share with me.

By the time I reached Shenandoah National Park the temperature had increased enough for me to be able to ride without the balaclava but my hands were still getting a little cold.

The Park was beautiful and I found myself stopping constantly to take pictures, so my hands were getting warmed up from not being in the wind so much. I was amazed at the amount of wildlife I saw and I was particularly blessed with seeing a mama bear and her cub. I saw 7 different dear and a wild turkey. The deer seemed not to be afraid of the cars which kind of frightened me as they were just hanging out by the road. I kept myself right at the speed limit of 35 mph just for that reason. The road was delightful, and I constantly had to keep myself in check with the speed limit.

I stopped for a break at the halfway point and got warmed up at the visitorís center. I grabbed something to eat and talked to some other bikers that also saw the bears. They told me that there were 2 cubs but I only saw the one. To my surprise there were actually quite a few bikers riding despite the cold weather.

When I first thought of seeing Shenandoah National Park, I wasnít sure of what I would find. I knew that it was close to the Blue Ridge Parkway and that every motorcycle magazine always raves about the BRP as the best motorcycling in the country. Shenandoah NP surprised me with 75 overlooks that are breathtaking. The wildlife was abundant and at ease with people. There are wildflowers everywhere and the forests are old with huge trees. I was pleasantly surprised with all that I found.

When I completed Shenandoah NP, I went down into Waynesboro, VA and found a place to stay. I got a bite to eat and then took a hot bath to thoroughly warm up.

Tomorrow, the Blue Ridge Parkway.

2009 May 19th

The Blue Ridge Parkway. What can I say that hasnít already been said? I woke up this morning with an eager feeling. I wanted to get going. I went to the office area of the hotel and had some breakfast. The room was crowded with other tenants, but I was still able to get some food and sit down with some other riders and talk about the coming day with them. I felt the same eager feelings from them. It was almost like a fever, very catching. I hurried through the meal and went back to the room to load the bike up and get on my way.

As I drove out of town I could feel the chill in the air. I was worried at first that I may have a similar day to yesterday with cold hands and having to stop, but that didnít happen today. My hands did get cold and I did have to stop a couple of times but I warmed up my hands when I stopped at the visitorís centers along the BRP. I got several more stamps in my passport today as a bonus.

The BRP was wonderful in many ways. It was better than Shenandoah NP because the speed limit was 45 mph instead of 35 mph. The wildlife was fearful of the road. Instead of hanging out by the highway it ran from the highway. The traffic was very light in the early part of the day but it got heavier in the afternoon. I seriously doubt if there was a straight stretch for more than a thousand feet in any of the 280+ miles that I covered today. The only things that I didnít like were the motor homes and other RV traffic. They really donít belong on that road. I was lucky in that I only had to pass 3 the whole day. I saw many of them going the other way however. The road is very winding and the RVís have trouble navigating such roads.

There were several sections under construction, which slowed things down for me. They are making the road better though and it gave me a chance to warm up and talk to the flagmen a couple of times. Those guys have a boring and lonely job.

I saw a lot of wildlife near the road. I saw a lot of wild turkeys, deer and even a coyote. The squirrels must have gotten together this morning and had a meeting to discuss all the different ways to cross the road. There seemed to be a squirrel crossing the road every few hundred feet. Some would stop in the middle of the road and taunt me by moving back and forth. I didnít let them fool me with their games though and they all survived my passing.

There was a detour that took me off of the parkway and onto the country roads. The traffic got heavy and the roads werenít nearly as fun, but soon I was back on the parkway with less traffic and more curves. There was another detour that led me into the town of Boone, NC. This is where I had thought about staying the night and when I was detoured into this town, that is what I did. I found a cheap place to stay and then went to get a bite to eat. When I got back, I answered my email and called some friends.

I have about 180 more miles of the BRP to do yet tomorrow and at the end is the Smoky Mountains NP which also ends with Deals Gap. Iím not sure if I will be able to do all of that tomorrow but I will certainly try.

2009 May 20th

I got a late start this morning and by the time I got on the road it was already 9:30am. I had to stop for gas and I ended up talking to someone at the hotel for several minutes. Another conversation about life and some life experiences that this person wanted to share with me.

I got back on the BRP and stopped at several visitorsí centers to stamp my passport some more. The BRP was beautiful and the road went up real high today. The road went up to the elevation that I live at.

The squirrels were up to there usual tricks again today and there were several victims to show for it. That is what they get for twitching there little tails at those cars. I was fortunate not to have caused any deaths in the squirrel population.

I saw several more wild turkeys along side of the road again today. Some of these were really big. I always tried to stop to get a picture but I was never able to.

I have to say the one thing that surprised me today was I noticed these huge flowering trees. I slowed down to have a closer look and to my astonishment the trees were Rhododendrons. These trees were the size of the oak trees they were next to with trunks 2ft thick. I have seen a lot of Rhododendrons before but never anything that size.

Once I was through the BRP, the road went right into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This road was packed with cars and not a lot of fun. The traffic was slow and when I got to the other end of the park, there was heavy traffic through Gatlinburg, TN. There was some construction in town causing most of the problems.

I stopped at the visitorsí center just outside of town and those people were very nice and gave me some maps. I stopped several times trying to find a place to stay but the cost was too much so I kept going.

I ended up going through Dealís Gap and I tamed the ĎTail of the Dragoní. That road was fun and very twisted. I now know why so many people crash. When I got to the end I stopped and took a bunch of pictures. As I pulled in at Dealís Gap, the loaded down bike kind of caused a disturbance as several people came over to me and I got a little crowd of attention. All these people were having trouble with the little Ninja being so loaded down and me running the ĎDragoní. I didnít have any problems, but of course, I didnítí ride it that hard. The attention was fun, but I soon tired of it and got back on the road. "Seen it, Done it, Now whatís next?"

The way the three parks are setup is interesting. Shenandoah NP, The Blue Ridge Parkway, and The Great Smoky Mountains NP are all on the same road. When you finish one you can continue right onto the next one. Together they total about 630 miles. That is a lot of scenery. I would have to say that I now understand why the BRP is considered the number one motorcycling road in the United States. I think that a lot of it has to do with its shear length and ease of access by the large population on the east end of the country. I have seen a huge portion of the Rocky Mountains roads, and the scenery is fantastic, but the roads are short in comparison. The other thing about Colorado is the riding season is also very short.

Iím saddened by the fact that I have put the last route of this trip into the GPS today. Iím now officially headed toward home. I plan to stop at Graceland in Memphis, TN and then on home. I figured that it will take a couple of days just to get home after my stop at Graceland.

2009 May 21st

I got a good start this morning. I was up early and got ready fast and I stopped for breakfast at McDonalds. I know not the best breakfast but it was quick. I was on the road by 7:45am.

I rode through many states today. I started out in North Carolina, then into Tennessee. I wasnít in Tennessee too long before I was in Georgia again. Then came Alabama and back into Tennessee for awhile. A quick hop across the river and I was in Arkansas. I rode clear across Arkansas and into Oklahoma where I have stopped for the night. It was a good long ride today.

I had put Graceland on my route, but when I got there it was a circus and not something I was going to spend the time necessary to see. It looked like the kind of thing that would take up most of a day. I just kept going.

When I was in Tuscumbia, AL, getting gas, I was approached by this gentleman who was asking me a bunch of questions. He took hold of my hand and said that he wanted to pray for me to have a safe journey home and for me and my familyís good health. I was humbled by this man as he took it upon himself to have a prayer session right there on the spot. As it turns out this man was a local pastor by the name of Ricarldo Linsey. Gas stations can be interesting places. Thank You, Pastor Rick.

I hardly stopped today and when I did it was with purpose. My last stop was in Sallisaw, OK, where I found a nice place to stay. Sheila at the front desk helped me out and pointed me towards a good place to eat. Thank You, Sheila.

Not much to say about today, I just spent most of the time riding and a lot of it was on the interstate going fast. That is how I covered so much area.

I donít know how things will go tomorrow; the weather may get ugly and that may slow down my progress.

2009 May 22nd

I got up early this morning. I knew if I got a good start I good maybe make it home today. It was a long day but I made it home.

The roads in Oklahoma have got to be the worst in the country. The interstate looked like a patchwork quilt. They have been patched and repaired beyond working order. I took quite a beating trying to negotiate my way through all of that rough pavement and concrete.

Yesterday when I left Tennessee, I noticed that the Tennessee landscape was tall thick forests with huge overgrown trees. Once I crossed the bridge west of Memphis, TN, the landscape changed to flat farmland with fresh crops of corn and wheat. In Oklahoma, the landscape changed to cattle ranches and prairie. There were also a fair number of oil fields with the prerequisite derricks and oil pumps. Mostly the land was barren and looked unused. The roads were straight as an arrow and rough. When I crossed over the border into Colorado, the prairie turned to more rolling hills with large rocks or boulders sticking out of the ground. The elevation was steadily increasing all the way through Oklahoma and continued sharply once I reached Colorado.

I was gone for 39 days and covered right at 10,600 miles. I rode through 18 different states and I only experienced about fifteen minutes of rain.

The first rain was just before Big Bend NP in Terlingua, TX while I was getting fuel. This shower of hail and rain just started to dump while I was under a canopy at the gas station. It only lasted a couple of minutes, so I just watched it and when it was done I rode away without getting wet at all.

Later that same day, I went through a shower that felt great as the temperature was well over 100 degrees. Those five minutes of rain cooled the temperature down to a tolerable 80-85 degrees. Just after I crossed into Alabama, I was given a ĎWelcome to Alabamaí shower that seriously poured on me for about five minutes and then quit. This was really the most rain that I experienced. The last time I ran into rain was in Georgia on my way to get the tire mounted, it rained for only a couple of minutes and I barely got wet.

Aside from the real cold weather in Colorado and Pennsylvania and the real hot weather in Florida, the weather was great for riding all the rest of the time. I feel really blessed to have such great weather everywhere I went.

A lot of people gave me flack for taking this trip on a 250 Ninja, but Iíll tell you, that little bike ran like a champ the whole time and never gave me a lick of trouble. It only burned oil when I was running above 10,000 rpmís on the interstates and the amount was barely worth mentioning. The drive chain was the only thing that concerned me, but I think that if I would have kept a closer eye on it in the beginning, it wouldnít have even been an issue. At sea level I was able to cruise right along on the interstates without any issues. The wind had a tendency to toss it around a bit, being such a light bike and all, but I was able to get it through.

Over the next couple of days, I will still continue to post comments as I reflect on the events of my adventure.

Synopsis of Trip

I worked on a synopsis of the entire trip today (May 24th). I only briefly covered the trip, but here is a list of it.

4-14 I left Colorado and rode to Farmington, NM very cold.
4-15 I rode from Farmington, NM to Phoenix, AZ very windy.
4-16 Helped my friend Les clean up his back yard and had barbeque.
4-17 Ran errands with Les, went to Sears, Walmart and Kawasaki.
4-18 Helped Les clean out his garage. Grilled dinner and then went to a party.
4-19 I took the bike over to Frenchís and changed the oil. Went to dinner with Les.
4-20 Went to Tucson, AZ and Saguaro NP. Ended at Silver City, NM.
4-21 From Silver City, NM rode around the VLA telescope to Carlsbad, NM.
4-22 Went through Carlsbad Caverns and then rode down to Guadalupe NP.
4-23 From Guadalupe NP I rode to Big Bend NP and camped at Rio Grande campground.
4-24 From Big Bend NP I rode to Dell Rio, TX and stayed at Lonesome Dove RV Park.
4-25 I rode to Boca Chica, TX and then up to Corpus Christi, TX. Very Windy.
4-26 I took a tour on the USS Lexington and then rode to Johnson Bayou, LA.
4-27 Stopped in Breaux Bridge for lunch and then on to Baton Rouge, LA.
4-28 Baton Rouge through Biloxi, MS then onto Marion, AL.
4-29 Rode to Barber Motorsports and then stayed at a RV Park close by.
4-30 From the RV Park, I rode to Deonaís work to meet her and then to her house.
5-01 Helped Deona move and then had a great dinner with her and Bill.
5-02 Deona and I went to Stone Mountain and then to Peach State Orchids.
5-03 I changed to oil in the bike and some work on the GPS.
5-04 Hung out and read a book that Deona had lent me.
5-05 Took the tire to Endless cycle and celebrated Cinco de Mayo with Bill and Deona.
5-06 Rode through Atlanta, GA and then down to Pensacola, FL.
5-07 I followed the coastline through Panama City, FL and stopped in Perry, FL.
5-08 Rode all the way down to Naples, FL.
5-09 Rode through the Everglades NP and then down to Key West, FL.
5-10 Rode from the Keys through Miami, FL and on up the coast to Hobe Sound, FL.
5-11 Rode to my uncle Robins in St Marys, GA.
5-12 Spent the day with Uncle Robin and then we went to dinner with Aunt Annette.
5-13 I headed north following the coast and stayed in Newport, NC.
5-14 I rode to Cedar Island, took the ferry to Cape Hatteras and then Chesapeake, VA.
5-15 From Chesapeake, VA I rode to my good friend Ernieís in Clearfield, PA.
5-16 Isaac helped me get oil and a filter for the bike and I changed the oil.
5-17 Spent the day hanging out with Ernie and his family just watching movies.
5-18 Left early in the cold, rode through Shenandoah NP. Stayed in Waynesboro, VA.
5-19 Rode on the Blue Ridge Parkway all day. Stayed in Boone, NC.
5-20 Rode the BRP, the Great Smoky Mountains NP and Deals Gap to Murphy, NC.
5-21 Rode through Memphis, TN and then through Arkansas to Sallisaw, OK.
5-22 Rode back home to Centennial, CO