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Monday, May 24, 2010

Post #2, the Starting Point. It isn't a place, it's an event. How the hell did this start, anyway?

My Old School 63 Panhead...Old School Cowboy, too!

Obviously, you just don't jump on and go, right? The trip for me actually started in May of 2008. Though I'd ridden, I hadn't owned a bike for a number of years. I had been on the fence about one for about a year when an old friend called me. My childhood next-door neighbor from North Linthicum, John G.

I hadn't seen John for years, but he and I grew up together, and together we'd put a lot of miles on motorcycles. We'd also spent a couple years as members of the same motorcycle club (another story for another time). During this conversation, while we were catching up on old times, John told me he was still riding, that other friends are still riding, and he wondered why the hell I wasn't riding!

What's a guy to do? I went right out and bought a brand new 2008 Harley Davidson Softail Custom 105th Anniversary Edition!! June 1, 2008 is the date on the paperwork, and it was my very first new Harley. It's one of about 7 in a string of Harleys I owned over the years. I give John full credit for the bike and think of him every damn month when I make the payment.

So I guess that was the start point.....getting back on a Harley. There were actually a few new things to get used to. For one, I always rode choppers, and this thing had features I was unfamiliar with: Front brakes, a front fender, shocks, a comfortable seat, lights that actually worked, turn signals, and of all things, a horn. And yeah, there were two more gears after 4th, though I rode around in 4th for a while before I realized that. The coolest thing, though, was having a gas gage. I ran out of gas all the time riding choppers. And yeah, there's one other nifty feature: A warranty!

And I have to add this. For the first year or so, I was always looking down on both sides of the bike, and watching behind me, though I wasn't conscious of doing it. John finally busted me for it, reminding me that this wasn't a chopper and I wasn't in danger of losing parts on a long ride! On those old ones, I never got anywhere with everything I left with; I was always watching out for missing parts so I could double back to get whatever fell off. Old habits die hard.

So the stage was set, sort of, and as time went on, I realized I just might be able to ride this bike on a long, long ride. One I'd always wanted to take. But I needed some new stuff....Stay tuned.


Kickoff...... Blog Post #1 of.....Well, it's anyone's guess.

Here we attempt to document the fulfillment of a dream to ride across America on a motorcycle. I'm not doing the whole bit, East to West (My son did that and he's still got a sore back!), but I am planning a scaled-back adventure that starts in Alexandria, Virginia (my current home), though the south, to New Orleans, Louisiana. 
And back.

A goal for the trip is to avoid, whenever practical, the Interstate Highway System. Instead, I'm making my way through the Southeast via back roads and through small towns. I want to re-discover America, and maybe even my roots. I've always felt "southern", and consider myself a Texan (sorry Baltimore). For me, this is like a trip home.

My Mom and I spent many summer hours and countless miles on the roads between Baltimore and Fort Worth, Texas, and through the window of the car I saw countless places where I wanted to stop: Roadside stands, tourist traps, snake farms, and all those signs pointing toward something historic. On this trip, I'm making some of those stops, and might even spend a little extra time in a friendly town if the mood strikes. Even longer if one of the local ladies talks me into it. Of course, the local authorities might just encourage me to get my ass back on the Harley and move on. It'll be interesting to see how it all works out.

So with that intro, I'll try to tell you a little about my long-awaited trip, and maybe you can ride along with spirit, anyway...on a trip where I'm looking for a little Southern Comfort.

PS - I'll probably lapse into using my old nickname, "Cowboy", through much of this. Old friends still call me that, and it somehow seems appropriate to resurrect the name for the ride.