Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Day 13

Miles today: 0 Total miles: 3,647

Today was a day off from riding. I actually triple-checked that total
mileage number becuase I couldn't believe I had gone that far in a
single trip. I was feeling a little burnt out and needed a break from
being on the road.

I met up with Chris Walthers, a friend and old roommate of mine from
college. Chris has his Master's degree in biomechanical engineering
from UCLA and is pursuing a PhD there now. I hadn't seen him in a long
time and it was great to catch up.

I tried to go to a Spanish mass that morning, but I guess the church's
website was wrong about that. I also thought I was arriving 15 minutes
early, it being Palm Sunday and all, but I actually was 15 minutes
late. There weren't too many people at that service, so no problem.

I went to lunch with Chris and his roommate to an awesome Brazilian
place and then watched some basketball. Side note: if freaking Dook
wins the title I might not be coming back to NC until next season. Go

Chris also had a PS3 with FIFA 2010, so I figured that I had better do
some research on the teams Sharon and I will be seeing in South
Africa, and played a few games with the teams we'll be seeing.

Chris then made an awesome dinner for me and his girlfriend, and then
we watched an episode of The Pacific, which is a really good show.

Thanks again, Chris for letting me crash at your place. I would insert
a plug here for what a great and attractive guy Chris is for any
single ladies in LA, but He already landed himself a pretty awesome
person, so he's already covered there.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This Is the Best Memory Lane I've Ever Been Down

Day 12

Miles today 132 Total miles: 3,647

Dippin through hoods

This was just a cool day. We slept in, got going around noon and just
spent the whole day riding around LA. We swung by the La Brea tar pits
first, but couldn't see much. Then we went to Hollywood, checking out
the walk of fame and being tourists. After that we rode through
Beverly Hills, a place where owning a Lexus makes you a second class
citizen. That place was amazing. It was just one gorgeous house after
another with amazing cars in front of each.

Next we rode on Mulholland Drive which was a really cool road. It runs
through the hills (mountains?) over Beverly Hills. It was miles of
curves with amazing views of the San Fernando valley.

After that we rode the sunset strip to the beach, then took 1 south
all the way down to Rancho Palos Verdes where my parents usedto live
in the 80's before I was born. This is an amazing place for someone to
live. Houses perched on cliffs overlooking the pacific, perfect
weather and some of the coolest scenery in America. My mom's dad came
out to visit once and decided that my parents were never leaving once
he saw the place. When they lived out here, my dad worked at a park
called Marine Land, similar to Sea World. My dad hadn't been out here
in about 15 years, so we rode down to see the park. Turns out trump
had bought it and turned it into a resort hotel. Dad just about fell
off the bike when he saw that. It was pretty depressing to find out
that a place where you worked so hard and committed so much was just
gone. We also went down to the shopping center to try to find the
jewelry store that my mom worked at, and it was gone too.

We had to deal with all this heartbreak, so we went to Admiral
Risty's, the bar where the Marine Land staff would go to unwind. This
was a really cool bar, with a great view of the pacific sunset. They
would call this "the show." everyone would go to the bar to watch the
show, and when the sun went down, the show was over and everyone went
home. I told him that his memory lane is much prettier than most
people's It's really pretty terrible how much hardship my parents had
to endure in their early years.

We rode back to the hotel, and we were pretty tired again. Also my
dad's had to get up at 5 to catch his flight, so we crashed again.

Being alone on the road for so long, it was great to spend time with a
fellow traveller. It was great to see you, dad, and I hope you had as
much fun as I did.

Two up

Day 11

Miles today: 353 Total miles: 3,515

I picked up a passenger in Las Vegas - my dad hopped on the back of
the bike today and we rode to Los Angeles. I mentioned that there were
times on the way out here that the bike topped out at around 65 going
up hills with a headwind. Well, we decided to add another challenge on
o that by adding a passenger (riding with two people on the bike is
called riding "two up"). Now, I should mention that the two genlemen
in question here are of svelte build and thereby do not pose a great
problem for the bike in terms of weight; nonetheless, the distribution
of this weight was slightly different than usual. The good news was
that we went downhill most of the way, but the bad news was that the
winds were still strong. The bike did really well - only a couple of
times did I max out the throttle, and we were able to do 70 and keep
up with traffic. We took the freeway again because there's really no
other way to get between those 2 cities without going almost a day out
of the way.

We got off the freeway at Victorville and came in through the valley
to the north of the city. This was a great drive and made up for the
boring stretches on I-15. Then we got back on the 405 (note: in
California, this is how people refer to major roads - the 405, the
101, etc. Just another one of those little reminders that you're in
another country. Still not sure why I haven't been asked for my
passport even though Ive gone through Texas and into California.)

It was also fun hearing my dad's reactions to getting used to the
bike. He loved how open everything was around him. Especially as a
passenger, he was able to look all around and have an unrestricted
view of the scenery. He was also battleing the cold, even when it was
65 degrees out. Without a windbreaker he was shivering. We switched
around some clothes, and he was much happier. We also spent a lot of
time figuring out how to ride with two people. The passenger has to be
sort of a co-pilot, leaning into turns, working with the driver in
tight spots. Because a passenger's weight is so high above the center
of gravity on a motorcycle, his movements can tip the bike more easily
than the driver.

We were both pretty wiped after the trip. Riding two up seems to be a
lot more tiring than riding single. We went to ralph's for a 6 pack
and got some pizza, then crashed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I made it out of Vegas alive and with most of my finances remaining. I know a lot of you were worried. I had grand plans of writing tomes for the blog, but should have know that it's impossible to get anything productive done in that town. So days late and (many) dollars short, here it is:

I don't think I mentioned before that my dad was meeting me out here in Vegas. The plan was to hang out for a day in Las Vegas, then he hops on the back of the bike and we go to LA. It was also nice that he had a few Marriott points stored up, so we got some free rooms in 2 very expensive cities.

So we got going around 10 on Thursday morning and got a few chores out of the way. Dad did laundry while I went to the UPS store to ship my camping gear to LA. There wasn't enough room on the bike for a passenger and all that gear, so we worked out that we could just send it to the hotel.

We got some lunch and then walked/rode around the strip for a while just to look around. We ducked into Casino Royale and played some very cheap roulette, craps and blackjack. We played for an hour or so and both finished up slightly. I think this might be the only time in my life when I will be up lifetime vs. the Vegas casinos.

Our family went out here about 10 years ago, so we went back to all the places we went when we were out here. We checked out the Luxor, where we stayed last time, and Mandalay Bay. I had some sports wagers to make, and I did those at the Mandalay Bay Sportsbook, which was really cool. Lots of flatscreens and huge LED boards listing odds on various games/sports. It was also Sweet 16 Thursday, so it was a great place to just hang out for an hour and watch the games with everyone. All the bets seemed to be on the underdogs, judging by the cheers of everyone watching. Watching random sports games is a lot of fun with people who have bet heavily on one team or the other. I went up to the desk to place my bets: I put 10 on the Bobcats to win the title at 100/1, so basically Vegas owes me $1,000 in June. I also put a bet in for Russell, my roommate on the Pirates to win the Pennant at 150/1. The guy who booked that one for me said, "Make sure he doesn't spend that one before it hits." I was also very excited to be able to bet against Dook in the tournament. So I said, "I'd like $10 on bet number 808 against the spread." Dook was favored by 8.5 against Purdue. As it turns out, I'm not used to the way that I had to place my bets at the counter, and I might have accidentally bet on Dook instead of against them. I went up to the counter thinking, "Ok I want to bet against Dook, so I should say the bet number next to Dook." Which I did. Which placed a bet against Purdue. I just want to say that I am very happy for this opportunity to represent the University of North Carolina and the fine education I received there. Mom and Dad, if you want me to pay you back for all that tuition you spent, I understand. (Also, Duke won and covered, but on General Principles, I will not be cashing that bet in. At least I can be an idiot with principles.)

We walked around the Bellagio for a while and came across some $10 blackjack tables, which are very cheap for the kind of place that the Bellagio is. We decided we had to play for a little bit, just to say that we played at the Bellagio. The tables had cream colored felt and you placed your bet on a script "B" instead of in a circle. To make a short story shorter, we both lost $40 in about 6 minutes. Totally worth it.

We went to see David Spade do stand-up that night, and it was a great show. We also purchased some of the cheaper tickets, so we sat right in front of the drunk idiots in the last row. They started yelling stuff at the opening act, and he did such a great job of shutting them up while making the rest of the audience howl. Spade did a great show, and yes he did do the "Housekeeping" bit from Tommy Boy.

After the show we hit the cheap tables at the Sahara. We played some craps, which was not going well and getting expensive quickly. Then we sat down at a dollar blackjack table and spent the rest of the night there. We had two dealers who rotated through our table: Natalya, a very nice Russian woman, and Frankie, an older guy from New York who said he went to Vegas to visit some friends about 15 years ago and never left. It was two different worlds when these two dealers would switch. Natalya was just throwing out blackjacks for everyone and when she was dealing, the whole table was up. Then Frankie would come around and we all cowered in fear. It was uncanny how you just couldn't beat Frankie. You could turn a 15 into a 20, and Frankie would somehow get 21. Every time you got blackjack, it was a push. But the great news was that we were playing dollar blackjack. We sat at that table for almost 4 hours and only lost $40 each, while drinking enough beers to seriously impair our addition skills. Natalya eventually gave up and just told us how much we had after each card.

It was just an awesome day. Technically I walked out down about $70 on the day, but you have to take that Bobcats wager into consideration, so I'm actually up $930. Pretty good for a first time in Vegas if you ask me.

Our Hero Journeys to Las Vegas, Land of Virtue

When we last heard from our hero, he had sought shelter from a raging blizzard under the friendly overhang of a Texaco. His goal for the day, to reach the promised land of Las Vegas, Nevada, seemed to be in great peril. Anxiously waiting for the storm to pass, he thought about the task that lay before him. 600 miles from Albuquerque to Las Vegas. Can it be done in one day? Can the task be completed, even in the face of such insurmountable odds as were remaining after the devastation wrought by the fury of Mother Nature? Follow him on his journey as he tears across the American Southwest, land of freedom and promise, with only his wits (those being in perpetual short supply) and his trusty steed.

Day 10

Miles Today: 645 Total Miles: 3,162

The day started in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I left the motel about 9:00 am, hoping to put in some good miles ahead of a storm that was supposed to be coming in around 11 to Albuquerque. I got within about 15 miles of Albuquerque and it hit: terrible cold front, driving winds and snow. I tried to keep going for a few miles, but then the snow got too heavy and I was worried about ice on the roads, so I pulled off. I just wanted a place with covered parking, and a gas station looked pretty good. I was figuring the storm would pass quickly, because there was only light snow forecasted, and it was supposed to warm up quickly after the system moved through. Turns out this one was here to stay a while. I pulled in to the gas station around 10 and couldn't leave until noon.

I had started the day thinking that if everything went just right, I might be able to make it to Vegas (640 miles) in a day. When I got sidetracked by that storm, I knew that was out the window. I got back on the road and made a quick stop into and REI to look for some hand warmers or something that would keep my hands warm. Riding into Santa Fe, the low temperatures combined with the altitude made for temperatures in the high 30's or so. At that point, my hands weren't working very well and I had to do something. I walked out with a pair of insulating glove liners and a package of hand warmers, which you just shake for a few seconds and they emit heat for 6-8 hours. So putting those two together made a big difference in how far I could go in cold weather.

I decided to just take 40 in the interest of speed, because there was just no way I could make it that fast if I didn't. The road was a little intimidating because the speed limit was 75 for almost the whole way. The bike doesn't do really high speeds all that well to begin with, and when you combine that with 20 mph sustained winds and hills, it can be tough to keep up with traffic in spots. There were times when I was holding the throttle wide open going up hills just to make 65 mph.

So I left at 9 am and arrived at midnight, with 13 hours of actual road time and did 645 miles on Thursday. I'm pretty sure I've never done that much in a car before. I got in to the hotel, and half of me wanted to just run to the nearest casino and start losing money, and the other half wanted to crash. Of course, the latter half won out, which was probably a good thing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Can't Talk Now . . . Good Stuff's Hap'nin

Ok sorry for the lack of updates recently, but after my battle with
the snowstorm, I made it 640 miles to Vegas on Wednesday. I'll post
more soon but I can't right now because . . . well, Vegas is
happening. You understand.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Midday Update (Because I've been stuck at this gas station for 2 hours)

So I was all pumped to get going today, fight through the cold and
make it to the warmer weather that was expected in Arizona. Well, all
was going to plan - I put on every piece of clothing I had: two pairs
of jeans, chaps, wool socks two fleeces, jacket, ski mask, 2 pairs of
gloves and my rain suit for a windbreaker. I left around 9 when the
sun had warmed Santa Fe up into the 30's and headed south toward
Albuquerque. It was cold, but the sun was mostly out and I was
confident I could do the 60 miles to Albuquerque in one stretch.
Things were looking good until the snow started. Apparently there was
another system brewing behind the one that hit last night. It was
light to start but got a little heavier and I had to pull off. If that
snow starts to stick even a little bit when I'm doing 70 mph, I'm in
big trouble.

I've been following the radar on my phone and it looks like once this
stuff passes, it should be pretty smooth between here and Vegas. It
just doesn't look like this system is going anywhere soon.

A couple of things that I meant to mention last time but didn't:

So the reason that it's so cold and snowy in Santa Fe is that the city
is at a much higher elevation that I originally thought. The city is
over 7,000 feet above sea level. The climb also really snuck up on me.
It wasn't like climbing mountains in the east where you see s big hill
and then you climb up it. It was very gradual and I didn't realize I
was so high up until the engine started backfiring. It surprised me at
first, but then I put 2 and 2 together and realized what was going on.
Backfiring happens often in carbureted engines when the ratio of air
to fuel is thrown off by high altitude. Adjusting the carb to
compensate can be tricky and I was getting nervous that I would have
to adjust them if it got any worse, but it calmed down after I
descended a bit.

When I hit New Mexico, I mentioned that it felt like frontier country
- attracting the kind of people who wanted to go west to explore and
see what they could find for themselves. That got me thinking about
Lewis and Clark and the absolute lunacy of thier expedition. I had
this scene running through my head of the two of them at a bar, and
Lewis says to Clark, "Dude, I'm bored. Let's just go west and see hoe
farthe land goes." Clark: "Awesome idea bro. Let me just run home and
grab a few things. Oh and grab that Indian chick you met last week -
she said she knew some of the country out there, right?" (read up on
this if your're not familiar with it - pretty fascinating story,
although I like my version better) Anyways, I got thinking about all
the support I have on my trip - a motorized vehicle, roads, motels,
grocery stores and restaurants, maps, AAA - can you imagine doing this
if all you had was some guns, salt, and wagons? Not to mention that
there were supposed to be some hostile natives that you had to make
peace with.

So it looks like things are clearing up, so after a delicious and
nutritious gas station lunch, I think I'll venture out in a bit to see
how the roads are

Double Feature

Days 7&8

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we have for you a very special double
feature! Because I was too wiped to write a post last night and too
rushed to write one this morning, we will be recapping both day 7 and
day 8 in one big post. Enjoy!

Day 7

Miles today: 467 Total miles: 2,136

So I mentioned that I did an oil change on the bike yesterday morning,
which took a couple hours, so I got out of Austin around 11 or 11:30.
I headed up through Abeline and then towards Lubbock. The really cool
thing about crossing Texas is the dramatic change in scenery that you
get to see as you move across the state. East Texas is pretty similar
to Mississippi and Louisiana, bu as you move west, the land flattens
out and the trees go away - drier land and more desertlike conditions.
Farmland needs more irrigation and the winds pick up also.

I made a stop along the way to get out the map and plan the rest of my
route for the day, and a man walks in, sees me with all my maps laid
out and says, "I like your style, son. Got all them maps spread out
just lookin for somewhere to go." Made my day.

I got towards Lubbock and found a campsite in the AAA guidebook that I
brought, and headed that way. It took me a little longer than I
thought and I got there well after dark. Well, this turned out to be
one of those campgrounds where they set horror movies, so after I rode
around for longer than I should have, I gave up and got a motel room.

All in all a pretty good day, but the frustration from not finding
that campsite and having to shell out for a room left me with a bad
taste in my mouth.

Day 8

Miles today: 381 Total miles: 2,517

I've been sleeping more than normal on this trip. I think riding makes
me more tired than I realize. So I got in late that night and woke up
late the next morning - around 9 or so. Also, it turns out that the
clock in my room hadn't been updated for DST, so it was actually 10:00
am. After getting ready and packing up, I didn't get going until 11.

I rode through Lubbock to start, which was a bigger city than I
thought - around 250,000 people. Roy Lee - I just saw your comment
giving me directions to BBQ and I really regret not seeing that
earlier. Thanks for the recommendation but it looks like I'm out of
range now. Looks like I'll have to come back again.

I kept going northwest into New Mexico, aiming for Santa Fe. I saw a
marked difference between the two states just in crossing the border.
It feels like frontier country out here - people seem a like more
"individualistic" for lack of a better word. Houses and zoning are a
little more irregular and the land is even drier. Much less good
farmland and only a few cattle here and there.

The wind has picked up a lot, but I'm hoping that's just from the cold
front moving in. If you're hearing about the snow in Denver, northern
New Mexico is catching the southern portion of that. Temps were down
around 40 or high 30's when I rode the last 40 miles or so, and I
thought my fingers were going to fall off, they were so cold. It's
supposed to be worse tomorrow morning, temperatures around 30 in Santa
Fe and 40 around Albuquerque.

Also - another "made my day" moment: I saw TUMBLEWEEDS! I have only
ever seen those in movies and in movies/tv that spoof westerns. It was
surreal to watch the wind carry them across the road in front of me.

Got a room in Santa Fe because it's supposed to snow tonight. I'm
looking to get to the Sports Authority tomorrow morning for some hand
warmers so that I can go for longer without stopping as much

So Vegas by tonight is out - I have over 600 miles to go. I'm hopingto
do about 400 today to make Flagstaff and leave myself a shorter trip

*Morning note : There is snow on the motorcycle. Today migt not be
very awesome.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Day 6

Miles today: 330 Total miles: 1,669

Made it to Austin! Yesterday was a battle for most of the way against
wind and cold. Temps were in the low 40's when I started out around
noon after a really nice mass at St. Theresa parish in Sulfer, LA. I
don't think I've given a detailed description of temperatures and
their relationship to motorcycle riding, so I think I'll do that here.
From hot to cold, omitting temps above 80 or so because I've only
ridden in those conditions briefly when I first got the bike and I
just remember that anything over 80 was awesome. I'll also preface
this by saying that I probably hate the cold more than the next guy -
I'll take temps around 100 over temps in the 40's any day.

70's: Very comfortable. Summer (thinner) gloves and vents on the
jacket open. Maybe one thin sweater if travelling at high speeds for
long periods.

60's: Nice. Probably winter gloves in this range, definitely so in the
lower 60's. Vents on the jacket closed and at least one sweater type

High 50's: Cool but comfortable. Winter gloves, leg coverings (chaps
or leather pants) probably a couple layers under the jacket.

Low 50's: getting cold. With all the gear mentioned above, your hands
are still going to be cold after 30 or 40 miles unless your gloves are
much better than mine or electrically heated.

High 40's: Ok, it's cold. All the above gear and if you can go for
more than 40 miles in one stretch, you're a better man/woman than I.

Low 40's: I would rather not be out riding right now, thank you very
much. My hands freeze after 10 or 15 miles in this weather, so I have
to stop every 15-20 miles to warm them up if I'm not able to do so at
traffic lights. Otherwise it's a little dangerous to be on the bike
and not have your hands able to function.

30's: I can go a couple miles, tops, but that's it. And I'm only going
anywhere if absolutely necessary.

So now that you've got an idea of what I'm talking about, it was in
the upper 30's when I got up around 8 and warmed to about 42 by noon.
So I was hopping from town to town, stopping at most of them to get a
coffee to put my hands around. Around 2 or so it got up to the 50's
and I was able to get going pretty well, but then the coffee caught up
to me and I had to stop a few more times. Around this time, I looked
out west at the horizon and saw a break in the clouds maybe 50 miles
away and did a little fist pump that the weather was going to warm.
Well for the rest of the day I chased that break in the clouds like a
carrot on a stick, and finally caught it after the sun went down. It
did get more comfortable later on, when I got closer to Austin, temps
in the high 50's.

Ok on to the wind. Ever get bounced around on a freeway in a car?
Imagine what that wind would do if you took away 3/4 of the weight of
your car. It's also a heck of an experence to go 70 mph down the
freeway and have a 20 mph headwind. I was very happy to get off the
freeway once I got into Texas.

When I got into Texas, there was a sign that said "Beaumont 26 miles,
El Paso 872 miles." I think somebody at the DOT has a sense of humor.

I made it into Austin around 9:30 last night and stayed with sharon's
uncle in downtown Austin. I got a shower and went to sleep right after.

I changed the oil on the bike this morning in the parking lot of a Wal-
Mart and had some lunch. Now I'm ready to set out for what I've heard
is one of the most monotonous terrain on earth. Wish me luck.

The plan is now to get to Vegas by Wednesday night, which I'm pretty
sure I can do. I'll probably be camping somewhere in west Texas

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Southern Louisiana; Highs and Lows

Day 5

Miles today: 255 Total miles: 1,339

First something I meant to post yesterday but forgot until mike
reminded me. When we were in New Orleans, he introduced us to the
North Carolina state toast. I feel like a better north carolinian now
that I have participated in this fine ode to the Old North State. You
can find the toast
for your next party or social gathering here:

Yesterday was a bit of a challenge. I got a late start kit of the city
and was feeling pretty tired after not sleeping much the night before.
I took US-90 across the southern part of the state, which was nice for
most of the way, but the road was in pretty rough shape and was pretty
tough on me and the bike. Mike filled me in on why this is - he said
that Louisiana would not raise its drining age to 21 for a long time
after all other states had done so. Becuase the federal government
couldn't do anything about this directly, they decided to simply
withold funds for road construction and repair until the state
capitulated in the mid 90's. I thought this was a great story until I
had to ride 5 hours on said roads. I also saw a few drive-thru daqueri
shops, which got my mind spinning about the logistics of a daqueri on
a motorcycle. I have seen some Honda goldwings with cupholders, so
maybe something like that with a camelbak straw might work. One of the
fun parts about this trip is that I get to thunk these scenarios all
the way out and come up with solutions to pressing social and
political concerns like how to drink a piña colada on a bike.

When I got close to lafayette, I took LA-14 to avoid the city, and it
was one of the nicest roads I've taken yet. The land is now extretmely
flat with farmland for miles. Thus means that I can now see large
storm systems on the horizon, which is one of the coolest things about
being in the central US. Living in the east, your view is always
obstructed by hills and trees, but out here you can sometimes see the
horizon for 360 degrees around you. It really makes me feel small when
I can see a huge storm system bearing down on me.

Today was full of highs and lows. Leaving New Orleans and dealing with
those roads was not a fun experience, but the chance to ride LA-14 was
just awesome and more than made up for the rough start to the day.

I had visions of getting to Texas in my mind this morning, but it was
not to be. Mother nature decided that 40 degrees, 30 mph wind gusts
and rain would be just perfect for a Saturday night. So I'm at a motel
in Sulfer, LA. The plan is go get to Austin today, and the weather
looks cold and windy. Hopefully the afternoon will be nice to make up
for it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Status Update

My butt hurts.

That is all.

New Orleans is Sweet

Day 4

Miles today: 312 Total miles: 1,084

I'm finding it very difficult to leave this place. New Orleans is a pretty amazing city. I came here for a few days in 2006 to do hurricane cleanup, but it really feels like the mood of the city is better now. When I was here last, I went out on Bourbon Street, but it felt a little more muted than what I saw last night. The ride in last night was awesome - there are Louisiana Oaks overhanging every street and there is just such an energy to this city. I saw lots of houses that had colored flood lights outside - yellow and green and purple, which would look really tacky in any other city, but somehow looks perfect here. We went to see Drive By Truckers last night at Tipitina's and had a really great time. Mike lives really close to the bar and it's pretty crazy that one of the more famous music clubs in the city is just a neighborhood bar for him. One of the crazy/really cool things about this city is that if you go out to any bar on any night, you'll find people in their 50's, 60's and even 70's sometimes who are keeping pace with the 20 year olds. I'm going to start today off by just riding around the city for a little while to see more of what it looks like. If I don't get to Houston today, it's because I'm still in New Orleans.

I took US-90 pretty much the whole way from Pensacola, FL to here, except for one part when I had to get on I-10 coming into NO because Katrina knocked out the bridge I was going to take, and it was too dark to read my map and figure out another way.

A couple of notes from the road:

Last year at work, I was applying to renew the state registrations for our products in Florida, and I noticed that the commissioner of their agricultural regulatory authority was named Charles Bronson, he of the "Death Wish I-V" series fame. So I had visions of Charles Bronson mowing down farmers in an effort to restore compliance to Florida's agricultural industry. Well, apparently he also regulates "consumer services" which includes gas stations, where I saw his name again. So now I had even cooler visions of him blowing up gas tankers all along the Florida coast, all in the name of regulatory justice. Once again, it's the little things that keep me entertained.

Riding across the Mobile Bay into Mobile, AL was really cool. There are parts of US-90 that run right along the water, and there is only a foot or two of difference in elevation between the road and the water, so it feels like you could just turn right and keep right on riding over the water. The USS Alabama is also docked there and it is HUGE. So I swung in to go take a look at that and then headed on to Mississippi.

I may have mentioned this in my previous post, but did you know you can gamble in Mississippi? I really had fun playing the penny slots and winning big. That's probably the last time in my life that I'll walk out of a casino having won money and kept it.

Alright, time to pack up and get back on the road. I'm trying to get to Houston today, but I'm not sure if I'll make it. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 19, 2010

...And the Debauchery Begins!!!

Much warmer this morning. That was a great decision I made in Georgia to turn instead of heading east across the state. I headed further south into Florida, mostly because I wanted to add Florida to the list of states that I had visited on this trip. I went to Pensacola and then on to Mobile, Biloxi/Gulfport and then New Orleans. It was all in all a really nice day of riding, with really good weather. I even shed a few layers and brought out the warm weather gloves.

Did you know that you can gamble in Mississippi? I don't think I did. As I passed the casinos of the gulf coast, I realized that I needed to get a warm-up in before I went to Vegas - you don't want to go into the big game cold, after all. So I strolled into one of the houses of entertainment in Gulfport and laid down big money (one whole dollar!) and won HUGE at the slots! I left the Island View casino with 2 extra dollars in my pocket, which I promptly used to tip the guy who drove the shuttle. But a good sign nonetheless!

So I'm staying with my friend Mike Florack from high school in New Orleans tonight, and I've been informed that it's time to go experience NOLA. I'll fill in some details tomorrow.

Lots of Riding

Day 3

Miles today: 382 Total miles: 772

Editor's note: Looks like this is going to be an NBC sports blog entry
- coming to you live via tape delay! I'm at a campsite in southern
Alabama which is really nice and scenic. Unfortunately, it's so scenic
that I don't have cell phone service. So I'm writing this thusday
night, posting Friday morning. We now go live to Bob Costas!

Really great day today with a lot of riding as you can tell from the
mileage. It was a little cold this morning - low 40's when I got out
of the tent around 8 - but it warmed up quickly once I got going on
packing up. I mentioned last time that it was raining last night, so I
had a wet tent to deal with in the morning. I got everything packed up
and wiped the tent down with a backpacker's towel that Sandy gave me
(dries out really quickly) and packed the tent up too.

I rode about 25 miles to the next town and got a coffee at McDonald's
to plan the route for today. I was just outside of Greensboro this
morning and decided to take ga-44 south to Eatonton the take ga-16
west across the state. That was nice until I decided I wanted to be
warmer, so I decided to head south on US- 27alt/41 south from where 16
hits I-85 to Columbus, GA. I crosses over into Alabama there.
Apparently a "Welcome to Alabama" sign wasn't in the budget, so I took
a picture of the "Welcome to Phenix (sic) City" sign instead. I took
US-80 west for 20 miles or so and the AL-51 south. Alabama's state
highway signs kind of squish the shape of the state of Alabama down so
that it's square instead of tall so they can fit the road numbers
inside - it makes the state look like Massachussets, only reversed.
Mass backwards, if you will. (It's the little things that keep me
laughing on this trip.) So I took 51 to Union Springs and then US-29
south to Andalusia. The one in Alabama, not Spain. I know, I get those
mixed up too. Tonight I'm in Conecuh national forest at a campsite
next to a lake. Which is awesome.

A couple of things that ran through my mind today:

Saw a logging operation in GA this morning that made me think ofthe
deforestation I saw in Haiti. I really hope reforestation is part of
the long term recovery plan for that country, because they can rebuild
Port-au-Prince all they want, but once they do, I'm not sure what
industry they'll have to sustain it once it's back.

I rode for a while today with a Harley guy and it got me thinking
about a few things on motorcycle riding that I've learned over the
past year or so and thought I would share. When 2 riders get near
each other on a road, they like to join up and ride together - partly
because it's safer (easier to see two bikes than one) and mostly
because it's more fun. Riders will also wave at each other, just like
boaters. Very important to do this with your left hand so you don't
let go of the throttle/brake and wreck your bike. Harley riders can be
uppity about this and only wave to other Harley riders, which I've
seen firsthand and don't really understand. What's wrong with waving
to someone on the road? Shoot, I waved at a guy on a lawnmower today.

To the team at MEY: I've been doing some scouting in the southeastern
states and have a report. I haven't seen any planting in the states
I've ridden through. Most of the weeds I saw lookd like they hadn't
been sprayed yet. There are lots of weeds that need killing, but no
spraying yet that I've seen. I did overhear some talk of getting
sprayers fixed, so hopefully that means that a few have started. I'll
have another report when I get to Texas.

A guy pulled out in front of me today and cut me off, (not close
enough to hit me, but close enough to get me pretty mad) and then I
noticed his bumper sticker that said "my bad" and I just laughed and
waved at him.

Editor's note 2: It looks like my earlier posts have been a little
garbled and have been cut off at certain points. Because i dont have a
computer with me, I'm writing these posts on my phone and then
emailing them to the blog, so I guess something's getting lost in that
process. I'm hoping to get to a computer tonight so I can fix that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Real Start of the Trip

Day 2: about 30 miles south of Athens, GA

Miles today: 263 Total miles: 400

Today really felt like the start of the trip across the country. After
getting everything packed and ready to go yesterday, I rode from
Chapel Hill to Charlotte, which I've done before, so that just felt
like continued trip prep. Today I woke up, got out a map, picked a
road that looked nice, and went there. This is the kind of travel that
I wanted to do and it feels great to not be tied to a route or
specific timetable each day. I just pick a road in the morning and see
where I wind up at the end of the day. Today I took state highway 72
from Rock Hill, SC to Athens, GA and then state highway 15 south to
the campground I'm at now. Tomorrow I'll get up, pack up camp, get the
map out and decide where I'm going. This is sweet.

I hung around Charlotte for a while this morning. Sandy made me a
huge, delicious breakfast and then I spent an hour trying to figure
out how to fit all the new stuff she gave me on the bike. I got to run
over to the Butler's house also to see Anne and also my cousin
Christy, who's been checking out Charlotte for the week. I also swung
by my old high school to see how it was holding up on the way out of
town. Fear not, Charlotte Catholic alumni, no major changes that I
could see, although they did paint some of the football stadium, and
it looks pretty nice.

I got my food for the day at Bi-Lo: (I was hoping for a piggly wiggly,
but my stomach couldn't hold out) cheese, summer sausage and crackers.
$9 and I'll probably get 3 or 4 meals out of it.

I'm also camping tonight in a state park and no ranger has shown up
yet so it looks like I'm not paying to camp either. Here's what the
campsite looks like:

I Can't Believe I'm Actually Doing This

Day 1
Miles today: 137 Total miles: 137

It really didn't hit me that I was actually going to take a motorcycle
across the country until the minute before I got on the bike. I spent
today running all over town getting everything together before I left,
getting new tires put on the bike, picking up more maps from AAA,
filing tax returns (thanks again, Rob) and tying everthing up so I
could leave. So I didn't really give myself a chance for it to sink in
that I'm actually doing this. When I first sat on the bike, it kept
running through my head that some of the best experiences that I've
had have begun with me thinking "this could be the coolest or dumbest
thing that I've ever done." And this trip certainly fits that

So the bike is all packed and ready to go (picture below). I was
actually surprised at how much room I actually have to store stuff.
All my clothes fit in one sadllebag, shoes, jackets and socks in the
other one, books, first aid, toiletries, maps and food in the tank
bag, tools under the seat and camping gear and rainsuit under a bungee
net on the passenger seat.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Journey of 1000 Miles Begins With a Credit Card

So I'm leaving tomorrow and have spent the last few days trying to get everything together. I saw the above quote on the internet somewhere and after all the money I've spent on gear in the past few weeks, it feels appropriate. I'll be taking the bike in to the shop tomorrow to get new tires put on and a new battery put in. Tires for the bike, by the way, are muy expensive - got a pretty good deal on them and they were still about $300 for a set of 2 high mileage Metzelers. There's also been the leather jacket, awesome looking chaps, rain gear, tools, extra storage for the bike . . . I feel like my credit card is like JT's paddle at the end of this commercial:


It'll all be worth it when I'm able to get the bike packed up and I can just get out on the road without having to think about what I'm forgetting and what I still need to get. And the good news is that wherever you are in America, there's always a Wal-Mart close by. 

It's been great hearing from everyone, and thanks again to all of you who have offered me a place to stay. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of you. 

So tomorrow I'll leave Chapel Hill late and go to Charlotte where I'll be staying with my "second family," the Farrelly's. Pictures of the bike all packed up coming tomorrow.