Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 24, 2010 – Day 19 Riding the slab to Tallahassee

Today’s ride was pretty dull compared to some that I’ve experienced so far. No great discoveries, no near-miss incidents with other vehicles, not even any strange critters wandering around unfettered.

I started out fairly late – 10:00am - for a couple of reasons, one I talked too long with some of the other guests at breakfast and two, I had to do a major repack because I wanted to create some extra storage room for the rain suit I planned to buy.

Leaving Troy I headed southeast on highway 231 to Dothan, AL. As I was riding through I noticed a huge Harley Davidson sign pointing to a dealership just a mile and a half off my course so I headed that way. I figured they might have a rain suit and if they did I’d soon be on my way again.

Of course that would be assuming I could find them, which eventually I did but not without some help. I kept an eye on the odometer while I looked for their store and after two miles I figured I’d missed it so I turned around and headed back in the direction I’d came. Rather than ride up and down the busy thoroughfare I rolled into a small strip mall to ask directions. As I pulled up to park there was a little old lady standing close by waiting for what I don’t know but she didn’t look afraid of me so I asked her if she knew of a Harley dealership nearby.

That was when it began to get fun. She was pretty elderly, maybe a litttle daffy too, a whole bunch more than me which is saying something and she didn’t hear well. I shut Green Girl off and repeated my question as she bent towards me with her hand cupping her ear. She understood the question well enough and started to respond, then sadly she couldn’t recall where they were located, just that they were around the area somewhere. I felt bad for her as I’ve been in exactly the same place. About that time her son returned from his shopping and told me how to get there. I thanked them both and rode off in the direction he’d pointed me.

I found them alright and inside one of the sales gals escorted me to the garment department on the 2nd floor… Those guys have the biggest single-make bike dealership I think I’ve ever seen, their inventory was huge. I told the sales gal quietly that since I don’t ride a Harley I’d prefer an outfit without all the orange & black HD logos, etc. She looked a bit miffed, I could tell, and I assured her I like Harleys well enough but since I’m not riding one I’d as soon not want to look like a wannabe. Bet my nose grew a foot...

That didn’t seem to help since the outfit she showed me was emblazoned with all the gaudy HD stuff those people seem to like so much. I declined, thanked her for her time and headed back downstairs. I could tell she was hoping I fall down the stairs, maybe break something… As I was leaving she must have had a flash of pity as she told me there was another dealership in the direction I was traveling.

I located them in just a few minutes and their place was nearly as impressive as the HD guy’s, it was loaded with all my favorite rides, Yamahas, Kawasaki’s, Suzuki’s, and oh wow, Victory’s!

I scored a nice rain outfit, one of the new improved products from Frogg Toggs. They’ve come a long way since my first set of their gear and it looks like it’s made substantially better. Made in China these days so that may have something to do with it.

While I was there I sat on several of the Victory bikes and was beginning to weaken; I was actually trying to fathom a way to load all my stuff onto one of them when a flash of reality hit me. I mean, I was really thinking of buying one of the darn things, thousands of miles away from home and with no idea whether there’s a servicing dealership in Oregon. Grabbing my gear I bolted from the showroom leaving the sales rep most likely silently cursing old geezers such as I. Sorry Bub, can’t do it today, maybe next time…

Back on the slab and with my shopping tank topped off I once again headed south. I crossed over the line into Florida and stopped at the visitor’s center for the mandatory picture taking thing. A gal was there taking pics of her little girl and I asked if she’d like me to take one of them together. She did and of course obliged me by reciprocating so I now have a picture of myself taken further away than an arm’s length. Nice. I knew how to use the self-timer on my old camera but haven’t figured this new one out yet.

Not long after that I stopped for lunch at a place called Hardee’s and tried their original “Thick Burger” with onion rings. It was pretty good but the burger was nearly too much for one sitting so I squirreled most of the rings away for later. As in now. Can you see the oil marks on the keyboard? They’re there, take my word for it.

One more stop for gas and also to don the swamp-cooler vest and I was ready for the final run on the slab. I figured to make it to Hampton Springs on highway 98 but noticed a Days Inn ad on one of those exit conglomerations so I bailed. It was a bit after 5:00pm and I was beginning to cook as the vest had pretty much dried out. I’m not quite sure how it transpired but instead of only being a couple of miles off the freeway the ride to the motel turned into a 30-miler, way more than what I’d expected. As it turned out the place is OK although the traffic noise was pretty intense for awhile. I think it will die down later in the evening and if not I can always resort to my earplugs.

Tomorrow I’ll continue south towards Key West. I have no idea how long it will take as my Florida buds say the traffic can be a nightmare at times. With the weekend starting I expect it may take awhile but that’s OK, I’ve got lots of time.

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