48 States Down, 1 To Go

I woke up in Billings with 3 states to go to complete the continguous US loop that I’d set out to do. Since my final state was Oregon, and I still had to head home, it made sense to head to Klamath Falls to stay over at mom’s house. Unfortunately, with K Falls at the opposite end of Oregon, this meant that I was looking at about 1,000 miles for the day’s ride.

So, up early and on the road at about 5:30am. I gassed up in Billings and hit the expressway headed west. The horrendous bug swarms from the night before were still in bed, thankfully. But I’m guessing that this was primarily because it was freakin’ cold. I started out with just my riding suit on over a t-shirt, but quickly pulled over and layered up as it dropped into the 50’s. I didn’t regret this, as it quickly dropped further into the 40’s and didn’t get up over 70 until about noon.

With the sun behind me and proper gear on, I took advantage of the 80mph speed limit to eat some miles. The land was increasingly interesting as we moved west, and I’ll admit that it was difficult to pass exit after exit directing me to Yellowstone. If I’d had even a little more time, I would’ve made the detour. I passed through both Butte and Bozeman, and realized that all of these “B” cities looked really nice and quite livable…at least through the lens of summertime weather.

I climbed up into the mountains and crossed into Idaho, pretty high up in the “finger” part of the state. I dropped down into Coeur d’Alene, gassed up and had a quick lunch break, and crossed the border into Washington. I made a quick stop in Spokane to take a photo and got back on the road, headed south towards Oregon.

I crossed the Columbia and continued on the I-84 (I believe), which travels along the edge of the river. It’s really an amazing road, and I wouldn’t hesitate to come back to explore the area some more. I hit the. US97, which leads straight to K Falls and hung a left. The road climbed through a winding, tight canyon and spit me out into the high prairie lands of northern central Oregon. Traffic was light and I cruised at reasonable speeds south through the fields and small farm towns through the middle of the state.

I passed on the outskirts of Bend and headed into the forest around Mt. Bachelor as the sun’s light faded. At about the same time the smoke from the California fires moved in, creating this hazy hellscape, with the trees silhouetted around me and smoke swirling through the air. I’ve done these dark drives enough to know that I should take advantage of the traffic on the road to forge a path for me. I tucked in behind a semi and set the cruise control at a more moderate pace to finish out the drive.

About 16hrs and 1,069 miles after I left Billing,s I pulled in to mom’s driveway. Cracked a beer. Went to sleep. Good day.

Taking a rest day tomorrow, then hitting the road back to California on Thursday.


My alarm went off at 5:30 and I promptly silenced it and rolled over for a bit longer. I blame the excellent mai tai from the best tiki bar in South Dakota. I eventually got motivated and on the road at a little after 7am. I had a long day ahead of me, but I started out on the local state routes to get the lay of the land.

The road out didn’t really change my opinion of Sioux Falls. I remained disappointed in the city and wasn’t able to find any real character outside of a few blocks of downtown and the Falls Park just down the road. Leaving the city behind me, I continued on through the warm morning air. It was more of what I’d seen in Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota, which wasn’t surprising in light of their proximity. Just farms, a few farming communities (though fewer and less dense than in Iowa, from what I saw), and more cows. The beef industry seems to start in western Iowa and cohabitates with the corn/bean farms in this neck of the woods.

After an hour or so I let myself get routed onto the main freeway. I wanted to do some sightseeing along the way and the added speed would help me make up some of that time on the road. Frankly, the freeway around here simply pulls you out of the nothing-burg towns that infrequently dot this landscape. Otherwise it seems that you’re able to experience the State, just at a higher speed. A fairly dense fog blocked my views from the freeway during most of the early morning, causing most of us on the road to drop our speed due to the decreased visibility. Even after it lifted, a haze persisted throughout most of my ride.

The freeway is populated by a pretty aggressive roadsign campaign. Certain businesses seem to make it their mission to have a sign or two up every few miles, even hundreds of miles from their actual location. The Corn Palace. Al’s Oasis. Firehouse Brewing. And of course, the granddaddy of them all, Wall Drug. They all had an endless supply of signs announcing their imminent (or at least eventual) arrival on the horizon. I tried to breakfast at the Oasis, but they don’t open in the mornings due to a staffing shortage. I did stop at the Corn Palace relatively early on, and then Wall Drug later in the day for lunch.

I’ve been interested in seeing the Corn Palace since I read about it in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods novel. It lived up to the hype, at least as far as a quick attraction that pulled me off the main road. It is quite cool to see intricate murals both inside and out, completely rendered in corn cobs, husks, and stalks. Inside it’s basically a basketball stadium of mid-size high-school configuration, but also decorated with these murals. Neat.

Wall Drug is just a tourist trap with food. So I ate, grabbed a free bumper sticker, and bought some tourist crap for the kids. I don’t know why Wall Drug is a thing, but who am I to fight the reality in which we live? The food was passable, at least, and it got me moving down the road again.

In between the Corn Palace and Wall Drug I opted to take the Badlands NP loop. It’s quite pretty and well worth the trip if you’re driving by. I don’t see it as a destination, like Yellowstone or Yosemite, but it’s a great side trip. It is best described as a bastard child of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone (without the geothermal goodness).

I opted to bypass Mount Rushmore, primarily because it was the goal of a past family vacation that was thwarted mid-trip. I felt like it was something that I’d like to see as a family sometime in the future, to finally complete that trip. Plus, I could tell that I was burning through my daylight even though I’d gained an hour by moving into Mountain Time.

I ducked over into Wyoming, then backtracked and headed north to North Dakota. I did take a quick detour to drive down Main Street in Sturgis. It was exactly what I expected and I hope never to have occasion to return.

As I headed west and then north, the heat really came up, ultimately landing well into the low 100’s. At the same time the winds also came up, battering me back and forth on the freeway, and following me even on the state routes as I headed to North Dakota. But it wasn’t just the scorching heat that was smoking, I finally realized that the persistent haze that I’d been seeing most of the day was actually smoke from fires in California and Oregon. The smoke stayed with me most of the day.

Finally making it to North Dakota, I turned and headed west for the final time. With civilization somewhat sparse, I took a look at the time and mileage and ultimately decided to make the 4 hour drive to Billings. This would put me at my destination around 9pm, which was not ideal, especially since I’d gained an hour on the trip already. 15 hours in the saddle is no joke.

So I got on the back road and set the cruise control as high as I could justify. As I moved into Montana, the speed limit rose to 70mph, even on this back road. I’ll admit that I abused their hospitality a bit and cranked it up even higher, although it was always double-digit. I, too, was smokin’ now. Deeper into Montana I was spit out on the freeway and kept it cranked at about the same pace, even though the speed limit raised to 80mph. The roads took me through a kinda “Badlands Lite” area, with interesting buttes and eroded areas. It reminded me a bit of the bluffs of eastern Iowa, without the comforting goodness.

The bike sailed along and ate miles without complaint. I landed in Billings at 8:30pm, shaving a good half-hour off the trip with a bit of heavy throttle hand. I headed to a late-night restaurant for a beer and dinner, booked a hotel room, and settled in for the evening.

Starting Mileage: 60480
Ending Mileage:
Daily Mileage:

Four States for the Price of One

I slept in just a tad, reveling in the last moments of my day off in Madison. I packed up and rolled out at about 7am, headed South by Southwest towards Iowa.

My nav was set to avoid interstates, now that I wasn’t fleeing in terror from tropical storms or slogging through major Metropoli along the Great Lakes shores. Perfect. I drifted through the rural towns of southwestern Wisconsin, honestly really enjoying the state more and more. It kinda looked like that America that’s supposed to be out there but is so elusive when you set out to find it.

The road took me pretty quickly down to the Iowa border and I passed into the state that played host for the vast majority of my day. On the eastern side the state seems a bit hilly, forested, and…bluffy, to coin a word. The road flowed through modest rock formations that had been carved by the rivers and streams that populate the area. It’s not a “breathtaking” kind of landscape, but like geographic comfort food. It just makes you happy to see it, and you feel welcomed by it. Weird.

As we moved westward, though, the state became a resident of the Great Plains. Everything flattened out and became less interesting. The farms got bigger and the windmills became more and more common. The crops, though, stayed the same. Pretty much all I’ve seen on this trip has been corn and (I believe) soybeans. I suppose some (or all) of the “soybean” crops could be canola beans. I don’t claim to be an expert. But the money around here, whether it’s subsidies, payouts, or just plain sales, is in those two crops. I’m beginning to understand why California is producing so much of the nation’s vegetable crops: no one else grows them. I’d be interested in learning if this is a pure economic decision (the gas pumps in Iowa, for example, have varying concentrations of ethanol content available), or is it a growing-season/suitability issue.

The other thing I noticed was that Iowa just basically disappears on Sunday. I went through town after town and saw virtually no-one. This was true for towns that straddled the main road that I was on, as well as a few towns that I detoured to scope out for food later in the day. I drove past house after house with kids’ bikes literally lying on their sides on the sidewalks and lawns, as if the Rapture had come and snatched up every kid with a bike helmet on. I didn’t see a single kid the whole time, though. It was almost creepy. More or less the same with adults. Businesses were closed. Food was not being served. Streets were deserted. Super weird. The exception was chain/franchise businesses, which maintain hours demanded by their corporate base. The culture around here, though, just seems to be that Sundays are sacred.

After my brief ride through Wisconsin, the vast majority of the day was spent traversing Iowa. I texted back and forth with a friend that recently moved to Iowa City to attend law school there. She’s been reporting on the pervasiveness of corn in the local lifestyles, and I saw several examples. Miles of corn fields, to start. I saw a sign for a (recently passed) sweet corn festival where these lunatics paid $5/head for “all you can eat corn.” I mean…isn’t living in Iowa pretty much “all you can eat corn”, 24/7? It sure looked that way to me. I also noted that the local gas chain is called the “Kum and Go”. Um, eww. As I pulled out (wink wink), I realized that I had just Kum and Gone on state route 69. The teenaged boy in me felt both exhilarated and dirty. So I pretty much just felt like a teenaged boy, I guess.

On the western edge of Iowa I encountered Sioux City. Its claim to fame seems to be that they have a Hard Rock Cafe and Casino! Eww. I am assuming that it’s a joint venture with a local tribe, but the whole area felt reminiscent of Erie, PA. I took a bridge over what I later was told was the Missouri confluence with the Big Sioux, and into South Sioux City, Nebraska, which looked even worse. Thankfully, this was the extent of my travel in Nebraska and I headed back across the bridge into Iowa, headed for points north.

I managed to get some sign photos for Iowa and Nebraska, but Minnesota (which came next) and South Dakota proved elusive. I passed a road sign pointing to a historic three-state boundary marker (think Three Corners), so. I braved a few miles on an unsteady gravel track to get to the marker, which sucked ass. But it was the best I got for Minnesota, so deal with it. I caught a nice South Dakota marker a bit later on a detour.

Regardless, I made a quick foray into Minnesota, then a few miles on to my final destination of Sioux Falls. I’ve been interested in Sioux Falls as a potential retirement spot. Surprise! It’s not. It looks like the downtown is going through a revitalization, and I did find a stellar tiki bar on the main drag. But the city itself seemed very generic. Lots of sprawl. Lots of meh homes. Lots of nothing. I did walk down to the eponymous Falls, though, and they were quite nice. I ran into a fellow motorcyclist who explained that the Big Sioux river was very low at the moment, and the stuff we were seeing wasn’t even normally visible. It was pretty cool. I grabbed some dinner, then tried out the skills of the tiki bartenders for a drink or two, and it was back to the hotel for sleep.

Sioux Falls was a bit of a let down, but the day’s ride was great. Looks like another 2 days for the 48-state loop, perhaps. Then maybe a day with my parents in Klamath, then home. Pretty much in the home stretch. And as Hurricane Henri is touching down in New England, I am counting my blessings that I was able to time my run up the east coast with just tropical storm remnants chasing me. Just a week or so later and I would’ve had to end the trip prematurely due to Henri. As it stands, a perpetually sunburned nose is the biggest hardship I’ve had to endure. I’ll take it.

Photos to come.

Starting Mileage: 59929
Ending Mileage: 60480
Daily Mileage: 551

At Least It’s A Dry…Wet

In spite of ticking just one state (Vermont) off the list, it was a fairly productive day.

Up early and out of my sketchy AirBnB by around 6:30, I chose the backroad route through New Hampshire and Vermont, headed to New York. It was a good choice, I think. Very pretty country and lovely towns as I floated down the various state routes. It got a little chilly but never below the 60s as I headed into the final remnants of Fred, which were just arriving at New Hampshire as I left. (I believe that the storm has finally stalled out and is dying pretty much over that state right now, as a matter of fact).

I rode through the rain and crossed into Vermont, which was the first time I’d ever been in that State. Very hilly, green, and wet, but the roads were good and gave plenty of passing opportunities to get me around the various trucks and dawdling service vehicles. I was flagged down by a motorcyclist as I cruised through the little hamlet of Wilmington. He was a New Yorker that had dumped his (gorgeous) BMW K1600 touring bike on some gravel on one of the local roads. He was able to get the bike upright (I’m assuming he had help…that thing is a beast), but it was disabled. The throttle-by-wire system wasn’t responding to inputs. We worked to troubleshoot it, but nothing was effective. His phone wasn’t getting a signal so we called to a nearby BMW dealership for help on mine. About then his friends showed up looking for him and I was relieved of my duties. All told, I lost about an hour of road time. Hopefully someone will do the same for me someday, even if it’s just for moral support and a cell phone.

Back on the road I was soon headed into upstate New York. I was hoping to make Cleveland, so I routed myself onto the turnpike and took advantage of the higher speed limits to make up some time. There’s not much to report from this part of the trip. The scenery in upstate New York is gorgeous. Rolling hills, green pastures, forests. And loooots of state troopers. They didn’t seem to be super aggressive, but there were loads of those guys.

I finally made it out of Fred’s clutches around the middle of the State as I headed west. I realized at some point that the humidity had finally dropped to a tolerable level, even as Fred was dumping on me. I realized that some of the misery in the south had come not just from the deluges, but from the humid conditions. I mean, you can’t get much more humid than being soaked in a rain storm, but the ambient humidity really changes the experience.

Unfortunately, though, I decided I wasn’t going to make it all the way to Cleveland and bailed out a bit early at Erie, PA. This place is BLEAK. I drove around downtown for a bit and settled at the Voodoo brewery while I got my hotel sorted. The area looked like ground zero for the opioid crisis. A high homeless population. Urban blight. Not to mention that the humidity spiked back up as I pulled back into town. It was maybe the worst city I’ve seen in my travels, and I’ve been around a bit at this point. I had a passable burger at the brewery and booked a place just out of town. I think it was a good call.

Starting Mileage: 58685
Ending Mileage: 59271
Daily Mileage: 586

The Corner Has Been Turned

This was a pretty big day states-wise, if only average, mileage-wise. I slept through my 5:30am alarm but the 6am backup got me out of bed. I made some coffee, showered, packed and was on the road by about 7. DC itself took nearly an hour to get out of. Was it worth it to stay in the Capitol? No. Do I regret it? No. It was a good stop on this sort of trip, I think.

I relied heavily on my GPS units on this leg. Moving from DC through Philly and into New York? Holy shit that’s a dizzying number of options. I just trusted the satellite guidance and still made several mistakes. The hardest thing was the toll situation. It started (I think) in Baltimore, although it may have been circumnavigating Philly. I ended up going through a toll booth that didn’t take cash and probably didn’t recognize my FasTrack transponder. Unlike toll roads later in my day, there were no signs for calling and paying later (at least that I saw). I ended up pulling over and signing up for EZPass on the spot. At least my plate and billing info are in the system, now. Which hopefully will cover my mistake in ending on the lower George Washington Bridge level, which doesn’t take cash, versus the upper level, which does. Sigh.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I headed out of DC and into Maryland. While I started on the turnpike, I had to skirt around the tollbooth (which didn’t take cash) because I hadn’t caved and sent up EZPass yet. That detour took me through Maryland horse country, over a dam that seemed to be a tide-control unit for an inlet, and a small port town. It was great, and I didn’t regret the extra half-hour to take the detour.

Back on the turnpike I burned right through Delaware and into Pennsylvania and then New Jersey. That’s a tight little junction there, with Philadelphia dominating the area. After that it became a game of hide and seek with New York City. I came across from New Jersey on the George Washington Bridge, then through (I think) Manhattan. At some point I came back out into Connecticut. I may have passed through Jersey again, but it was really hard to differentiate between anything at this point. It all looks the same to me.

Oh, I pursued my happiness alright. Right the hell out of your state. Buh-bye. (See you in a few days, though.)

The traffic in NYC was predictably terrible. What was surprising was the incessant stop-and-go traffic as I cruised along the south coast of Connecticut. Sure, Stamford is certainly an NYC suburb, but the traffic just never seemed to ease up until New Haven. After that I curved north towards Massachusetts, detouring just a bit to dip into Rhode Island for a mile or two. Since Boston was going to be a major traffic issue, I tried to stay east of Rhode Island as I headed up to Maine. This route took me through Worcester, which had it’s own traffic issues (although certainly less than Boston’s). After slogging through that mess I was free to head east with a northern trend to Maine.

I am sure this sign designer introduces himself at cocktail parties like, “I am Eric. I design signs. Goodbye.” And then he moves on to the next guest. I mean, C’mon. How about “Welcome to Connecticut: Killingly You Soft…With Our Songly”? Or “Connecticut: You Can’t Spell ‘Killingly’ Without ‘I Kill.'”?
I tried, dear. Sadly the couple of miles I spent were pretty meh. Perhaps you’re hiding the beautiful bits elsewhere?
Do you, though?

As I was nearing the end of this trip I saw the town name of “Billerica” slide by on the GPS. This was the town where I lived for a good part of the summer I spent working in Massachusetts in college. I detoured off the freeway to see if I could find my very first solo living quarters. Sadly, no. I found that I hardly remembered the town at all. I remembered one landmark to guide me to my old home, but it seems to have been lost to the mists of time. I consoled myself by taking a picture of a building that caught my eye, even though I didn’t remember seeing it in 1989.

Please note: No ences were climin’d in the making of this photo.

I blasted past New Hampshire and landed in Kittery, Maine. The Welcome to Maine sign was suspended mid-bridge, which I failed to capture. And the New Hampshire sign was off the side of the turnpike and I blew past it. I’ll try to rectify those tomorrow, but I’ll likely be on a tight schedule. I’m shooting for Cleveland by avoiding interstates where possible (while maintaining a reasonable riding time for the day. I’m trying to keep things right about 12hrs in the saddle max, mostly because of available light. I may squeeze out an extra hour or two as I head back west.

I landed at the least charming AirBnB in history. It’s a room in someone’s condo, and she seems unhappy that it’s being rented out…by her. Luckily all I do is blog, sleep, shower, pack and leave. Should be good enough for that… I hope.

Regardless, progress was made today. I checked off no less than 10 states today. I also reached the eastward and northward limits of my travels. Everything now is downhill, heading to the wide-open ranges (and roads) of the west, then home. I’ve turned the corner on this coast, in other words.

Starting Mileage: 58114
Ending Mileage: 58685
Daily Mileage: 571

F*ck Tr*mp

So as not to bury the lede, I’ll just get this out of the way. I made it to DC! Pacific to Atlantic. Not bad for an old guy. So I checked in to my hotel, got the bike sorted, and ran about a mile to take care of some long overdue business.

Rest assured that the finger is the only thing I gave to this traitorous prick.

And then I went to eat and have a few beers. It had been a long day. I had a hard time sleeping the night before due to the worrisome forecasts of Fred’s last gasps. My weather window went from non-existent, to possible, to looking pretty good. I got up at 4am and things looked even better, but I was too tired and it was too dark to get going. Back up at 5:30 and things looked great for a 6am start. I grabbed a coffee and loaded the bike, setting off at about 6:10. My plan was to be out of Virginia by noon to miss most of the storefront.

I set off out of Asheville well buttoned up in my gear, braced for the storm. I opted not to layer, which I regretted a bit as the road climbed and then slid into a 40-mile long river valley leading to Kentucky. It got a bit nippy, but never under the mid-to-high 60’s, so my shorts and t-shirt ultimately did the job…barely. The road out of Asheville was damp, but the rain was never more that a drizzle. We climbed a bit then dropped into Tennessee’s Johnson City. It was…a city. But Tennessee was lush and green, although I find the kudzu really ominous. It just seems like it’s devouring the forests where it grows. Unsettling.

A bit damp, but it was nice to be back in Tennessee, however briefly.

Tennessee checked off the list, the road carried me on to Virginia’s very western end. It’s basically a Virginia sandwich between TN and KY. Which enabled me to duck up the aforementioned river valley, which carried me through Virginia coal country up to the Kentucky border. It was…amazing. Great road, interesting communities, amazing geography. It’s almost a fjord with a little river at the bottom and communities and services stretched out on both sides of the river, clinging to the steep rock walls. I could’ve ridden that road forever. It took me through the small town of Grundy, which looked much less like a pill-ridden hellscape than I would’ve expected. I finally made it up to the Kentucky state line and trod a few steps on their soil, before return to the main road. I did notice that the Virginia side seemed to be more prosperous for whatever reason. Even the rundown Virginia homes were houses. Everything on the Kentucky side that I saw was a trailer.

Even when I zoom in, it’s hard not to read that as, “Virginia is for Losers.”
Aaaaand, I have now officially had as much Kentucky as I need. See you never, Kentuckians!
So that’s where that title came from!

After that it was just hammer down to make it to DC. Interstates through Virginia, then West Virginia, then Virginia again until they spit me out in DC proper. There was plenty of rain throughout the trip, but no real deluges, and usually just enough to make me keep my visor down. So, annoying more than anything else. I stayed dry and happy, though a bit tired from the sleepless night. Once here I realized that I hadn’t eaten all day and I went to work fixing that. Right after a quick insult to our former president and a selfie on the Mall.

I’m taller than the fucking Washington Monument! Bow before me, cretins.

I took a moment to stretch my legs and stroll the town just a bit before bed. A few dramatic scenes caught my eye:

It’s like stoicism, in building form. So stern.
Jinkees! I think I found the evil madman’s hideout, Shaggy!
I’ll take ineffective signage for $1,000, Alex. I mean Mike. Um, Mayim…?

Starting Mileage: 57480
Ending Mileage: 58114
Daily Mileage: 634

Drought’s Over, Bitches!

I woke up bright and early in Mobile, Alabama, then promptly rolled my ass over and went back to sleep. Luckily I had a backup alarm set for a half-hour later, and I was up this time. I took a look at my blog from the night before and realized that I was either 1) drunker than I thought I was or 2) extremely tired. I honestly think it was option 2 this time. I literally fell asleep on the keyboard. So I made a few edits, roughed out my thoughts for that day and packed up.

I was a bit sad to leave the Malaga Inn. Great location, nice room, amazing bed. Easily a place that I’d come back to in the future. But I was still racing Fred and he was set to land near Mobile later that day. So off I went at about 7AM. I cruised east and touched a toe down in Florida to check that particular box, then headed back into Alabama to head north east. I’d hit my southern terminus for the trip.

I enjoyed a good bit of the morning ride on the rural back roads before dumping onto an interstate headed up towards Montgomery and then over to Atlanta. I’m not a fan of the interstates, but this storm is just not giving me much leeway in terms of time. And the interstates give me a bunch more options if conditions just become undriveable.

So we passed into Georgia. I believe this is the second state that didn’t give me a good opportunity for a state signage photo (the first was Kansas, due to the darkness). The interstates don’t help with this task, due to speed and stopping on the shoulder.

Regardless, it was about this time that I got the call from the Malaga Inn to let me know that my Kindle had liked the place so much that it decided to stay behind. It wished me well, she said, but it just wanted another hurricane and a po-boy. I sympathized. So I called my secretary and set her the task of retrieving my wayward property, while I went to Best Buy in Auburn, Alabama to pick up a replacement. Hooray. Luckily the call came in just as I was stopping at a Waffle House for a late breakfast, just down the road from the Best Buy, which had exactly one kindle in stock. 30 minutes later I was full and Best Buy had exactly zero kindles in stock. Job done. Back on the road.

I got to Atlanta just in time for…insanely terrible traffic. I don’t know why. It was early afternoon on Monday, but it was jammed everywhere. After I eventually remembered that I can use the carpool lane things got a bit easier. Until the carpool lane became a toll road, that is, dumping me back into traffic. I tried to figure out if my FasTrack is compatible with their PeachToll (or whatever it is. It literally uses the “peach” emoji as part of it’s name, so I just called it AssTrack in my head every time I saw the sign). I couldn’t get an answer while I was riding, so I just stuck it out in traffic. I was surprised at how quickly I’d come to take rural light traffic for granted, and how disorienting it was to be back in an urban environment. I don’t understand why we seem to want to live like this. Shit was so much more pleasant rolling through Arkansas and Kansas, even in more populated areas. The whole megalopolis thing is really dumb.

Whatever. I was free of Atlanta pretty quickly, which is where I met Fred. This storm was apparently huge. Even though Mobile was fine when I was there and the center of Fred was hundreds of miles behind me, storm bands had already passed over Atlanta and (spoiler alert) up into the mountains of the western Carolinas. This started a long slog through sudden downpours, followed by extended periods of just enough drizzle or rain to keep my visor closed. All the way through South Carolina and up the hill to Asheville, NC.

The downpours were something else. It would be dry and fine, then you’d see a gray curtain across the road ahead. There would usually be a line demarcating the wet from the dry. Once you pass that line…BOOM motherfucker! I’m raining at you! It was like a fun game where your friends throw buckets of water at your head as you try to run an obstacle course and keep from getting hit from behind by other blinded contestants. I love that game! The first time I played it, I didn’t know exactly what was coming. So I hit that line with my visor up and my suit vents open. This was a mistake I didn’t make again. I didn’t get too wet, but my glasses got covered in rain, as did the inside of my visor. So when I buttoned up the helmet it was like looking through a foggy kaleidoscope. Not so much fun at 70mph. I got that sorted out by ultimately taking off my glasses and storing them, then peering through the cracked visor at a sliver of road until I could find a safe place to get things sorted out.

Once that was done, though, it was smooth sailing, if a bit damp. The suit held up to the deluge admirably well. My electronics seemed to have survived, too. I couldn’t use my phone at this point due to the rain, so I had Melissa book me a room in Asheville as I rode. I made it up a final push through the mountains from Greenville, SC, through a true deluge as Fred hit the Appalachians, and to a cozy hotel here in town. Uber eventually showed up to take me to a tasty dinner and a few beers, then back to the hotel for an early-ish night. It was 7pm to me 3 days ago. 9pm to me last night. But tonight I’m supposed to act like this same time is 10pm. And tomorrow morning, 6am will be…nope. I don’t want to even think about it.

And as for the drought, we’ve clearly just been missing the easy answer. All we need to do to solve all of California’s water woes is to just run a hose from Asheville, NC to California. The water that fell on me just today would keep us in pool and lawn water for a decade. Genius!

I’ll post some photos once they get uploaded from my phone. Not much to see from today, sadly.

Starting Mileage: 56915
Ending Mileage: 57480
Daily Mileage: 565

Roll Tide

So the day started nice and early, as planned. Maybe a taaaaad too much beer was enjoyed over pinball. But it was an Addams Family machine! I mean, c’mon.

Regardless, up at 5ish and off to Waffle House to sample their wares. I think this was my third or fourth “first time there”, since I’m usually hungover when I’m actually in striking distance of one. Regardless, this “first time” I had hash browns (scattered and smattered, as god himself intended) and a waffle. The hash browns were tasty. The waffle was tasty. Even the Butter-Like Spread was tasty. Who knew. It didn’t hurt that Edward Hopper was outside painting his modern masterpiece. Classed up the joint a bit.

I call it…”Morninghawks”

After breakfast it was time to head out. The GPS units wanted us on the various Interstates. I did my best to stay off, following the US71 down rather than the parallel Interstate freeway. The morning was nice, if humid, and the back roads were quite picturesque as they took me through Razorback country.

I dipped into OK long enough to get a receipt for being on their property, then it was back into Arkansas for the run down to Texarkana. Texarkana seemed a bit bleak, but was made a bit more interesting by the fact that it straddles the state line, with half of the city in Texas. I couldn’t help but wonder about the jurisdictional nightmares this must cause.

The road from Texarkana led back out into Arkansas for a short ride down to Louisiana. I stayed on roads into Shreveport, then got routed onto the I-20 for quite a ways. This wasn’t my preference, but it kept me on schedule to hit Mobile before sundown. Melissa was dealing with medical emergencies back at the house, so I played around on my phone and scored a room in downtown Mobile in an old mansion for $80. Not bad for an old man on a motorcycle! I continued to cruise through Louisiana and into Mississippi, where I rerouted onto a US highway.

Bienvenue and adieu, mon petit chou.
…and the KKK.
Apparently there was a copyright on “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Even from the grave, Dante torments thee.

Pulled into Mobile eventually and checked into the charming Malaga Inn. I walked a few blocks to the local nightlife strip and found a place that was serving hurricanes and po-boys. I had one of each, maybe a beer as well, and wandered around a bit before heading home for the night and crashing hard. I’m typing this as the sun comes up, packed and ready to hit the road for points north.

You had me at “Hello”
You did say $80…right?
And steps away from heaven? Yes please.

Because of the major roads I was on I didn’t really get much local flavor, unfortunately. I had one old Louisiana local tell me a joke about how badly “coon asses” drive as a kind of veiled warning (I think), but that was about as close an encounter as I had with the populace down here.

I drank a beer across the street from this place. That’s about as much culture as I got in Mobile. Sue me.

I’ll add some photos later. They don’t seem to be uploading, for some reason.

Starting Mileage: 56198
Ending Mileage: 56915
Daily Mileage: 717