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Old 07-07-2013, 10:20 PM   #1
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Florida to Monument Valley cruiser camping-ish

Decided to take a road trip with my son, Adam before an upcoming deployment to Bahrain for a year. Preparations such as they were are captured in this thread.

Got on the road a little late but still needed to swing by and see our local pink octopus

Not sure what Adam did but I had to spring him from the "Old Jail" in Baldwin, FL so we could..

Get rained on...

Having had enough of that (or so we thought!) we threw some paper airplanes before

Getting rained on some more...

and finally getting to our day's objective USS ALABAMA to play some Battleship!

I missed an epic sunset over Mobile Bay while picking up some dinner after making camp at Blakely State Park but Ranger Jim was a hell of a guy and got us lined up with a great camp site and some history of the park.

The next day started by us...

Getting rained on again... alot.

We swung through NOLA to grab a surf and turf Po boy from Parkway Bakery and Tavern.

While here, my outlaw biker son gargled in public (it's illegal in Louisiana, please don't call the fuzz!)

The seating is a little chaotic but after all the rain it was an EPIC sandwich and Adam and I were stuffed and sufficiently warmed up to...

Get rained on some more.

Finally dried up as we neared the Texas border and Adam and I stopped by this old Stuckey's station to wring LA out of our socks and other unmentionables before pushing on to Houston for the night.

Tomorrow we plan on swinging by the Alamo and riding a couple Sisters before making out way to Carlsbad Caverns.
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Old 07-08-2013, 06:09 AM   #2
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good pics! i'll be following along. your first picture, it looks like mayport base housing?
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:17 PM   #3
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Yep, I'm truly lucky to live where I do. Not bad for a high school drop out! (STAY IN SCHOOL! Real life is hard.)
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:53 PM   #4
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Day Three or Onward and Wetward!

Woke up and started a load of laundry to recover some of the clothes saturated over the first couple of days. Adam decided to take advantage of the indoor pool while I packed everything up.

Shortly afterwards we got on the road heading west to...

Yep, you guessed it! Get rained on some more. By now I figure you guys know what us getting rained on looks like so I'll hold of on the picture of that. We stopped off to wring out our footwear on the other side of the storm and hoped that we had finally put all that mess behind us and I noticed that we had crossed our first 1,000 miles! Not too bad all things considered.

I really wanted to make it to San Antonio before stopping for lunch but my road dog was getting mutinous and, well, what the heck are we hurrying for anyway? We stopped of at a burger joint about 30 miles out of town (Lucindas?) and when we came out and looked south the sky was that deeeeeeep shade of purple that means business. I look at Adam and say, "We need to go... like now." I threw my gear on and we hit the I10 like we'd been shot out of a cannon as the winds along the front of the storm sent stinging dirt into every exposed inch of skin.

We scurried along the front and eventually outpaced it but I was still worried about letting it get back over us while we were at the Alamo... I've had it with this firetrucking rain on this firetrucking plain!

Not this time though! The rain stayed east of town and Adam and I explored the Alamo before getting some Haagen Daas (sic)

Our touristical duties in San Antonio met, it was time to finally get away from the interstates and do some riding! Another inmate doing a very similar ride mentioned the Three Sisters in his post and, after looking them up, I saw they were kinda on the way decided to check them out. I was not disappointed:

He isn't dead, he dropped his glove!

I forget the road numbers 337 I think, but there were great fun and we had them all to ourselves as we chased the sunset into the evening. Being on the big heavy cruiser though the best road was yet to come. We broke from the Sisters route (as depicted by the interwebs) to head north on 55. What. A. Freaking. Blast!

Wide open fast sweepers opening up to three lanes at times and a speed suggestion of 70mph! Even better we might as well have been the only people on the planet. Not a soul in sight and we found ourselves laughing out loud at the sheer joy of motorcycling unfettered. It is safe to say my son is fully hooked on riding. It was a fitting capstone to crest the last curvy hill and be presented with this:

before pulling in to Rocksprings and our night's destination.

Tomorrow will see us easing into New Mexico and Carlsbad Caverns. Clark Griswold ain't got nuthin on us!

SAFETY DISCLAIMER! Upon posting these pics I realize that my boy eschewed his gloves to man the camera. I talked to him about keeping his gear on! I also had him take a picture of this sign to drive the point home.

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Old 07-09-2013, 07:53 AM   #5
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i guess we're almost neighbors :) (i live off wonderwood) i drive through there pretty often as i surf and kitesurf on base. i've always been envious of the better living conditions for you guys these days. i'm more accustomed to the old units being torn down. I am enjoying your RR...
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Old 07-13-2013, 10:04 PM   #6
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Tired kid, tired tire.

Ok, looooong over due... We got up early the next morning to head north from Rocksprings to pick up the Interstate in Sonora. The plan was to take a pretty easy pace north into Carlsbad, NM and catch the bat flight out that night and go back the next day to walk the caves. As we made our way north the roads took on a more west Texas-like characteristic but it was a cool clear morning and a good start to the ride.

Hwy 55 north of Rocksprings:

I began to notice my road dog was acting a bit lethargic and electing to sit down at every opportunity. He insisted he was fine but I decided to keep an eye on him.

Well, the roads over the last couple of days had a real gravelly texture and, as much as I had enjoyed them, they had been enjoying what was left of the tread life on my rear tire. It needed changing soon. The prevailing winds were from the north as we trucked along I10W forcing me to lean right and the road continued to eat my tire on that side leaving it lopsided. Even worse, the center strip was gone completely and now showing a new layer of rubber I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to be riding on.

We passed these young ladies and had to grab a shot:

I started to look for a place that sells tires in Fort Stockton and surrounding areas. Nothing doing. The nearest I could find was in Odessa which was fully an hour and a half outa my way! No way Jose. Maybe it can make it through to Albuquerque... We grabbed a sinful "lunch" at IHOP and turned off the interstate toward Pecos. The heat I had been expecting this whole time finally made an appearance and the mercury climbed past 100. We stopped in Pecos to grab a drink of water and some shade. And I wanted to check on our rear tire.

Twenty degrees cooler. Right?

What's left of the rear tire.

Obviously we weren't going to make it two more days on that so we decided to make the run to Odessa and Family Powersports. Heading the other direction meant the winds and my lean were the opposite thus grinding down the other side of the tire and evening it all out. I wasn't sure this was a good thing. Getting to the dealership and they were busy! The first guy I talked to said something about getting to it "maybe tomorrow morning". This won't do. Luckily the service manager was sympathetic to our plight and agreed to throw the last tire our size on the bike in the next hour so we went next door for root beer floats and steak fingers.

The remnants of the rear tire:

The three hour detour would mean we would miss the bats so we settled on camping at Brantley State Park for the night.

We had the whole place to ourselves:

The trails down to the primitive camping are a bit rough for a street cruiser but we managed. Across the lake from us we were serenaded by a pack of coyotes and the lapping of waves along the shore. Totally alone. In the morning we walked up the shore to explore a bit and found tracks indicating that those dogs might have been curious about us too!


We packed up camp and headed into to Carlsbad towards Carlsbad caverns. be continued...
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Old 07-14-2013, 12:22 AM   #7
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Cool adventure!

Way to go, guys.
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
(Eleanor Roosevelt)
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Old 07-14-2013, 10:58 PM   #8
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Caves, Aliens, and Ancients

Grabbed breakfast at Lenny's in Carlsbad then rode down to the park about mid morning.

It was already hot and getting hotter but the road up to the cavern was beautiful.

Getting to the top we were confronted with a mass of people from all corners of the globe and I was taken aback at how irritating I found all the commotion. Luckily we got through the lines fairly quickly and made our way to the entrance of the park. The smell reminded me of a chicken coop a bit.

It is a long walk down but the constant 56 degrees in the cavern was a welcome break from the indicated 106F we saw on the way out of town! I won't bore anyone with endless pics of the caverns (we took over a hundred together) but I wanted to share these:

A group of older Mexican women were gathered in front of this one chuckling and commenting animatedly. I understood a little of what they were saying and they saw me laughing with them and even greater hilarity ensued!

the "pecho" in question:

In total we spent about two hours down there exploring. The formations are incredible and immense. If you haven't been, go.

Afterwards, it was time to move on and we pointed the Victory north towards Roswell, NM to try and get abducted. Obviously we failed but I really enjoyed how thoroughly the town had thrown itself into its role as a tourist trap.

We stopped at the UFO crash site, remarkably well preserved:

*Not actual crash site.

Then visited the UFO museum to get our learn on.

It was here that I began to get a nagging sensation that we weren't alone. It would stay with me for the rest of the day...

Anyway, it was once again time to head north. On the way out of town this mural caught my eye:

The red lights in this town were tenacious and it was almost as though the town itself was reluctant to let us go. But go we did and into the middle of no-frickin-where. Incidentally, if you think you may need gas before leaving Roswell heading north then get it! There is nothing for a hundred miles and if you don't plan accordingly you will find yourself desperately searching the maintenance shed of a rest stop with Jessie Joe for some gasoline that may or may not have two-stroke oil in it. Don't ask me how I know... I still feel like something is with us.

The trip after that was mostly uneventful until Hwy550. The scenery off this road hinted at what was to come and it was blessedly curvey after the last couple days. Our plan was to get to Chaco Culture NHP in time to set camp and do some light hiking before sunset. Why do I keep planning? I called ahead to get some details about the campgrounds and the ranger informed me it was 13 miles of dirt roads with some washboard sections and a "couple sand pits".

Understatement of the trip. It will take you about 10 minutes to get from the highway to the turn off towards Chaco after which you get three miles of pavement before it goes to dirt. We started onto the dirt segment and, though a bit rough, it wasn't that bad.

Start of dirt road:

Sand pits... why do there always have to be sand pits...

The sand was loose and thick and the cruiser had an understandably hard time tracking well so the going was excruciatingly slow and hot. We slid, wobbled, and duck walked our way through the worst of the sand and got the wash board section. Only the washboard ran parallel to our direction of travel. They are very deep and will offer a lively time in even the best conditions.

But this is us we are talking about! True to our trips form a late afternoon storm chose that time to come tearing across the desert bringing with it heavy gusts and sideways rain that, thankfully, never got thick enough to add to our problems. I was manfully(?) wrestling the bike along these crevasses in the road as the wind playfully drove us towards one two foot drop-off shoulder or another. I forget all pretense at composure and rip the bars in the opposite direction to correct and the wind would shift again and we would plunge towards the other side. It happened for maybe the twelfth time on the way down a hill and I had had enough. I stomped on the rear brake pedal, locking the rear up, threw down the kickstand, slapped the intercom off button on my bluetooth and jumped off the bike to stand defiantly in the face of this sudden desert storm and began to turn the air that wasn't black, blue. The storm was unimpressed so I sullenly climbed back on the bike and continued to press on. It may not have slowed the wind down, but I felt a bit better.

Finally we rounded a corner and came face to face with three cows that had climbed into the road and couldn't make it back up the dunes and into their field. They started at the sound of the bike and tried vainly to climb the loose sand until we were past. And there it was.

Sweet, sweet pavement!

We rode into the campsite feeling like conquering heroes and were regarded by our new neighbors - all in SUVs or pickups - with quizzical stares. Nevertheless we made camp right in the shadow of an incredible sandstone cliff and settled in.

The aura in Chaco is incredible.

You can almost feel the history of the place in every breath... and I still feel like someone is watching us! be continued?

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Old 07-14-2013, 11:21 PM   #9
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The rides with the kids are the best. S'pose you're glad the rain and the sand pits weren't on the same day
Adventure begins when your plan falls apart.
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Old 07-17-2013, 08:31 AM   #10
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A couple "Get-offs", high desert monuments, and more rain.

Waking up at Chaco was surreal.

It may have been the exhaustion from wrestling the bike through that road but I slept the sleep of the dead and woke up feeling refreshed and ready! Adam and I packed up camp as we discussed our plan for the day. Knowing that those 13 miles were ahead of us and would be uphill this time, we decided to get an early start before the heat moved in.

But first I had to run up to the ranger station to pay for our room. While there we saw that Una Vida was a short half mile trail and go check it out.

These buildings are between a thousand and fifteen hundred years old. Remember that when your siding needs to be replaced!

There were also petroglyphs on the cliff face:

Forget an early start out, let's go see more of this! To get further in, you have to wait for a pilot car as the roads in the park are all single lane and one way. As we get on the bike we look over and there it is! Hurry up!

The four miles out is scenic and a leisurely pace. The main complex is called Pueblo Bonita and is incredible. I'll only throw a couple pics in here but if you want to see more just click on a pic.

Those who know Adam will understand this:

Sadly, it was time to go as we knew this was ahead of us:

Going uphill made it a little more complicated and at one point we were between two of the dozens of heavy trucks that had been pounding this road to flour over the last few weeks. I was trying to keep the bike in the left track of the truck in front of us when he slowed suddenly. I had plenty of time to stop of course, but as I slowed the front wheel dove to the outside and the bike started to veer into the oncoming lane. It became apparent why the truck slowed at this point as I looked up and regarded the three church vans making their way to Chaco! I corrected the heading back in the opposite direction just in time to bury the front end in a foot of powder. The bike slowed to a crawl then just sorta leaned right. Adam got clear of the bike as I shut of the engine when I hear a commotion behind me. Apparently, our antics were exciting enough to cause the last van to slam on its brakes and it was now stuck in the sand too! An army of pink and purple tie-died shirts swarm out of the vans and they push themselves free to resounding cheers. Good. I right the motorcycle and check it out not expecting to see damage and there is none. It is getting hot now. We get back on the bike and make our way through the second half of the road. It takes us two hours and we had one more get off and a really scary moment going up a hill where I used the entire width of the road to fish tail my way up but no real damage. We stop at the gas station back on 550 to gas up, air up the tires, and drink the sweetest cold drinks I've had in some time!

We haven't had enough yet so we make the decision to push on to Monument Valley and the western most point of this trip in Arizona. The route we are going to take will take us through three more states and some of the harshest desert I've seen. There's no way we can get rained on out there is there?
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:39 PM   #11
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Monumental journey goes West.

North for a while longer then west through Farmington we drive on towards the border and into Navajo lands. Shiprock passes to our left but we press on. The trip out to Kayenta was scorching hot and brutally beautiful. I can't find the pics from that stretch yet but when I do...

In the meantime we turned off of 160 onto 163 towards Monument Tribal Park. We caught the sun shining on the western side of the sandstone formations making for some great pics. The limits of my Galaxy S4 Active's camera were reached trying to pull the details here.

As the road wraps around to the north of the park there is a pull off on the right side of the road that offers great panoramic views of the valley.

The sun was starting to set fast now so we jumped back on the Victory and continued north on 163 to do a quick four state tour. This great sign was in the town of Bluff:

Hwy's 163 and 162 are terrific rides with some wonderful views and curves. We rode along them as the sun dropped behind the mountains at our backs. We were hoping to swing by Four Corners to do the obligatory tourist thing but it was not to be. A storm that we had been circumnavigating finally landed in our path as 162 became 41 and turned south. As we turned onto 160 westward Black skies, lightning, high winds and poor visibility stood between us and Teec Nos Pos where we were going to turn east again. To make things more interesting, an accident was blocking the way south and the officer informed us it could be as long as two hours. With sour weather making the prospect of the wait even less enjoyable we reluctantly turn around and back into the ass-end of the storm. Yay. What had originally been planned as an 8pm ETA in Farmington for some Mexican food, a margarita, and an early night in a hotel bed became a cold, wet, and hungry arrival of about 1130pm where we grabbed some late night drive through and crawled into our beds. Tomorrow will NOT be an early day...
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Old 07-20-2013, 08:46 AM   #12
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We took our time getting moving today after the late cold finish to yesterday's ride. Adam took advantage of the pool while I drank coffee and turned in some college writing.

Around lunch time we rolled out of Farmington headed towards Fenton Lake State Park. The ride took us back by Chaco and we waved, glad we had stuck it out but relieved we didn't have to see that road again! In Cuba, NM we turned of of 550 towards the park in accordance with Google Maps. Signs warning trucks that the road was impassable during inclement weather began to pepper the road sign. Uh oh. We push on anyway and into Santa Fe National Forest. What a beautiful place! Good twisty tarmac carried us all the way to the end of the pavement... Damnit. Not willing to risk it on the slick mud roads left behind by the ever present rain shower that has followed us the whole trip, I turned the bike around and we headed back to 550 to link up with I40 towards Albuquerque. Right before we get to the city Adam excitedly shouts into my headset, "BAD ASS COFFEE, DAD!" Well of course we need to stop for some.

It was truly Bad Ass Coffee.

After this the majority our trip back to the east was non-descript interstate grinding as we wanted to get to North Carolina as quickly as possible to visit my Grandpa. He has recently been through surgery and hasn't been doing well. I will spare you the boring minutia of this part of the trip, but there were a couple cool things to be seen on the way:

I've never gotten this close to a wind powered generator before:

It was at Mesa Community College and you can walk almost right up to the base of it.

I-40 runs along the old Route 66 and we took intermittent breaks from the interstate by jumping off to see this thing or that. This old gas station was purportedly in a movie or two. Can anyone say which ones?

Getting to OKC would be a wet affair (surprised?) as we got rained on from the OK border all the way to the city but the rain did break as we got there long enough for us to check in near Tinker AFB.

Up early the next morning and more rain. Our rain gear was starting to show signs of wear now as was our patience. Luckily it was only a couple hours of it this time and we ducked off the interstate as we got to Ft. Smith to run south through Arkansas' Ouachita National Forest - sorry no pics of this part of the trip

We burned through Hot Springs and as we were climbing a hill at highway speeds I noticed that the clutch was slipping when I accelerated. It wasn't persistent enough to really affect the way the bike ran but it worried me nonetheless.

Memphis, AR would be our night's destination and a place called Tom Sawyer's RV park. It's in an awesome location right on the Mississippi River just south of Memphis, TN and offers fantastic views of the river and the tugs as they draw freight up or down the river.

We made camp and settled in for a night of mosquito swarms and little sleep. It was idyllic until we doused the fire.

Then it got real. The bloodsuckers found a way into our tent and were merciless! The repellant we were using may as well have been dipping sauce. We gave a heroic effort at sleeping and got up VERY early to break camp and get moving. We worked our way a bit farther up I40 towards Nashville but cut off early to run bi-ways east into Tullahoma near Arnold AFB. I spent several years here as a kid and this pitstop was something I had really been looking forward to. Tennessee is a beautiful state and the air when we got there had that familiar quality that only your childhood homeland can possess.

No real bike pics but those of you who have ridden around middle Tennessee know the roads you guys have!

An idle afternoon to rest and relax at the lake on Arnold AFB and a good night's sleep repaired our bruised ego from the night before and we were ready to go:

Up next: The Tail of the Dragon, more rain, and The Voyage Home.

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Old 07-20-2013, 10:22 AM   #13
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Great country....

Really a unique part of our country.....where I'd love to get waaaaay out into the boonies around there. Thanks....

Gary "Oldone"

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Old 07-21-2013, 04:55 AM   #14
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A great ride made even better by having your son with you! Thanks for sharing & hope y'all have many more epic rides!
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:36 PM   #15
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Dragons tail, breath, and tears?

Thanks for the comments!

It is funny how, when you take a trip you run into parallels to your home life. Our origin and destination for example. St John's River to Rio San Juan. Or when you pass through another Jacksonville. You start to look for symbolism everywhere and, once looking, you find it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We woke up and took our sweet time getting rolling out from the base. I wanted to spin by my old house and see a few other sights of my childhood. I expected my son to just endure it for my sake but found that he was fascinated by a glimpse into my past. On the way out of my old neighborhood I spotted some deer statues on someones front lawn. Then they started running along the motorcycle!


We then worked our way towards Chattanooga. Going up the hills on our way into the city I REALLY started noticing the clutch slipping. This was not good, especially seeing as how our intended route would be through 129 and the surrounding roads. A disabled bike on those streets could be really dangerous.

I began to think through potential causes. The clutch lever was able to travel the full range of motion but was a little tight (there was no slack in the lever at all). Maybe a slight adjustment of the clutch cable? I loosened it just a smidge and put a highly calibrated "touch" of play back in as measured at the lever. The bike was immediately back to normal and through research after the fact I found that these cables will tighten over time and need adjustment. Duh. RTFM Joe.

Anyway, onward to the Dragon! I've ridden all over BRP, Maggie Valley, and surrounding roads but never made it over to 129. The reputation of the road and replays of the Youtube hosted crash videos began to play in my mind. I began to feel some nerves as I turned onto the road and we stopped off at this t-shirt stand on the western edge

It's got's electrolytes. It's what plants crave.

You all know the reputation of the Dragon so I won't go into some long dissertation but I had a blast! While I was fooling around my topgunner went to work with his iPhone camera:

The timing was perfect as we only caught up to one group of Harley's and only pulled off once to wait for them.

The rest of the time we may as well have been by ourselves. Well... almost!

We pulled into Deals Gap for a pulled pork sammich and a sticker:

This thing is awesome! Made from bits of real motorcycle so you know it's good.

We left out of the gap on 28 which is a great road in its own right. As we passed along Cheoah Lake the mists had settled along its surface like dragon's breath:

We pulled off at the boat ramp to get this

And then it started to rain...again. Are YOU SERIOUS!? We needed to make Waynesville (a bit farther actually) to stop for the night and did so around 8:30pm. We met up with my mom at Jukebox Junction, a great little diner right on 276. Hwy 276 in my opinion is a fantastic motorcycle road that also offers Pisgah National Forest, Sliding Rock, Mirror Falls and some other great attractions before dumping you unceremoniously into SC.

View Larger Map

Anyway, we had made it to family territory and were graciously put up for the night by my Aunt Anne and Uncle Steven. After almost two weeks on the road it sure was nice to have a home to sleep in for the night.

And a garage to keep the bike dry for a change!

We arose early the next morning and visited for a while with my Grandad. He is a truly remarkable man. A talented artist and father of 15 he never failed to provide for his family or set the example for his dozens of grandchildren. A real man in a world that idolizes criminals and immature athletes, he is my hero.

We showed him the pictures of our trip so far, the rains (of course!), USS Alabama, New Orleans, the Alamo, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, Chaco Culture and Monument Valley. Mountain vistas and desert sands. Five thousand miles so far and a lifetime of memories. This, I tell him, is why I love motorcycles. As we got done describing our journey he wiped a single tear from his eye and said, "Thank you, son." We hugged him and held his hand one more time before leaving. It was cold. His circulation hasn't been very good lately.

I hope to get back up to see him soon.

Adam and I said our goodbyes to the family and my mom and turned south. The beginning of our trip home was fairly quiet. My son and I lost in our own thoughts.

I wanted to avoid the interstate in South Carolina (long story, but I hate it) so I followed 276 down to Brevard then jump on 178 and the other necessary roads to get to Augusta where I would make my way back onto interstate 95 at Savannah for the last couple hours. Well, 178 is closed! The detour takes you along East Fork Rd and Glady Fork Rd, which is a GEM! I returned to 178 on the other side of the construction with mixed emotions. I hated the delay but what a road!

Anyway, we make it into Augusta with little more fanfare and ultimately land back on interstates and turn south on 95. With a little over two hours to go and having run out of meaningful things to talk about, we amuse ourselves by dancing, trying to communicate with cages via sign language, and otherwise generally obnoxious behavior. We crossed into Florida leaving the 10th state of our trip behind around 745pm. At about this time the gas light came on. With about 30 miles to go it should be enough to make it and Adam and I are eager to be home. The hours of interstate have not been kind to our rears. Finally we make it back on base as the sun was setting.

Adam comments on how great the air "feels". This has been his home for several years and I understand exactly what he means.

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