Wednesday, June 07, 2006
What a Difference a Day Makes
Although it did end up getting later than I wanted it to be by the time I got checked in, today seems a world away from Monday. With a problem-free day under my belt, and the laid-back Trace Parkway for the whole day's plan, I woke up a new man today. I even put the earbuds back in and fired up the MP3 player.
I was buzzing along the shore of this huge reservoir, banking through lazy turns just a foot or two above water level, under a blue sky, when the random song picker thing cueued up "Just What the Doctor Ordered" and I had to smile. Sometimes music can really create a mood.
The parkway is 50 mph, no stop signs for 444 miles, no trucks, no guardrail, and almost no traffic at all. I saw more cars in the 10 minutes on the interstate from the hotel in the morning than I saw the rest of the day. I got off for gas in this country crossroads in Mississipi and the town was a 4-way stop sign. There was a little store with one gas pump that had the reels to watch your money go by, and two old black guys in overalls and long-sleeved shirts sitting on the porch eating their bologna-and-mayonnaise sandwiches. I pumped my 2 gallons (at that pace, I was making over 50 mpg and didn't realize I still had over a gallon left) and went in to pay. The cashier had about 7 teeth and was as sweet as pie. Said "y'all come back," but I didn't tell her not to hold her breath.
Back at the bike, one of the guys asks me how far two gallons of gas gets me, but it sounded like "owfadem dugan gazgicha" the first two times. I told him, we chatted a few minutes, and I got better at it. He said dat gitme Tupelo, eazy. Which was what I figured.
The scenery was nice; forests, meadows, the reservoir, a cypress swamp here and there. All sorts of Choctaw burial mounds. With righteous road music in my ears, and that steady Milwaukee rumble uninterrupted below me, life was good. After cutting the corner of Alabama and getting into the hills of Tennessee, the combination of altitude, latitude, and shade -itude had me downright comfortable.
I got off well before Nashville and ran into a couple on a Road King parked at the exit. We also chatted for a while, and I find out that just 20 miles down the road in the direction I'm heading, is Lawrenceburg, where I'll find a steakhouse, 3 motels, and a main drag with all ya need - I just hang a left on 43. Beautiful. And what a nice little town it is, except there are only two hotels, and they tell me Lawrenceburg is full. I need to go to Columbia, or Florence, Alabama.
I call another place on their recommendation, but I can't understand a word the lady says. I'm pretty sure they don't have rooms. So I call the magic "choice hotels" reservation number (they own a dozen chains) and end up heading 45 miles closer to Nashville, and that's the direction where it looks like it might be fixin' to let loose a gullywasher. It's sunny every other direction.
I made it, though, and it still isn't raining. The forecast for tomorrow is 83 degrees, 0% chance of rain, and I'm heading to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I have a room reserved at Deal's Gap, and I want to check in as soon as I can so I can unload all my crap and get out there for a whle and put the Sport back in Sportster. I'll spend the rest of the day bombing all those awesome motorcyle roads with much less fear of breaking down, then spend the night right at the Tail of the Dragon.
I have a feeling my mom and dad will show up there tomorrow. I had told Dad about the reservation when I made it,and gave him the room number before I left. Odd to have that information already, I know, but this place is a little different. If they're there, I'll have it made for the ride home out of the Smokies and up the Blue Ridge Parkway. That's a legend among biker folk, and should make the Natchez Trace Parkway look like a mall parking lot.
I'm pretty sure this place tomorrow won't have internet access, so you probably won't see a post. One less thing I'll waste an hour on tomorrow :-)
One other thing: Just when I thought I was out of New Orleans, there were gangsta boyz hanging out at the motel last night in Jackson. Tonight is much better. I've seen enough for a while of people wearing those condom-looking things on their heads, getting out of $150 cars with $5,000 worth of wheels and tires on them. I've stayed in a motel full of Pagans and felt better about my chances of seeing my bike in the morning. I hope this doesn't make me politically incorrect. I guess if you have a condom on your head and a gun in your pocket, I don't care what your background might be. And if you're sitting on a porch eating a bologna-and-mayonnaise sandwich in coveralls in 90 degrees, I won't care then, either. I'll still leave the keys in the bike while I go inside.