Final Day of This Trip: Be it Ever So Humble
Hopefully there will be more adventures in motorcycling and mindfulness in the coming months. After all, Jeff paid for a whole year’s subscription for this domain name! And summer is coming. Besides, my Jeep which was in the shop a month before I left is still somehow, not quite ready; “Should be good to go by the middle of next week.” I’ve been reliably informed. So I’m still on the bike for now. I appreciate those of you who followed our blog these last few weeks. At last check our blog had 1712 hits! Hope you enjoyed the pictures and the meandering thoughts as we wandered. We traveled over 5700 miles. I wonder? 1712 hits over 5700 miles? That’s one hit for every 3.3294 miles. Maybe those were the wind whacks I felt!
I have some concluding thoughts that I hope to record in the next few days but I wanted to give a report on my last day.
As usual, leaving Memphis, I got lost. That’s the problem with not having a map or a GPS and with what you’ve memorized taking you only so far. One skill I definitely have developed on this bike trip is that of knowing when I’m lost sooner. This time I only took the wrong road for two miles before I turned around. Then I settled down comfortably until I got lost a few hours later. That’s the other thing about being lost I never realized. Metaphorically, your only lost when you think you should be somewhere else. Maybe this is where you’re supposed to be and didn’t know it. Go with the flow. I’m much more comfortable now being lost. What’s the old joke?
“Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Yes, practice, practice, practice.”
Over the last few weeks, and years, I’ve had a lot of practice being lost. And we all get lost; sometimes it’s through life events that bewilder us or life paths that turn out to be wrong, dead ends. But there’s always another chance to find the right path again, and again. We need to consult our inner compass, our inner map.
I-40, as Jeff wrote about, was a nightmare. The interstate would suddenly be reduced to one lane and then traffic would stop entirely for minutes. Then it would open up again to two lanes and soon we were back to one again. And there’s always madness because drivers are in such a hurry to try and micro pass each other. It’s like people jockeying for position at the motel’s continental breakfast every morning. But there the worst is that you’ll have coffee spilled on you.
The heat from the sky and the asphalt was horrendous especially with all the biker gear on. Sweat was pouring down me. Maybe that woman I met at the elevator in the motel in Memphis wasn’t so strange after all when she asked: “Doesn’t your motorcycle have air conditioning?”
But things picked up eventually. I took a break at a convenience store which gave me more hints I was returning to the South. Krispy Kreme doughnuts right up next to the camouflage paint and dead down wind antiperspirant. I couldn’t decide between the real tree or mossy oak camouflage clothing so I just bought some doughnuts.
Birmingham traffic wasn’t too bad for the middle of the day and I did well once I got back on the right road. Then I drove up to Gadsden Alabama for a quick break at a multipurpose gas station/convenience store. More signs of the south. A woman in a glass windowed room was sorting through the live bait. I guess it was glassed so that you could hold your youngsters up to watch her work. Much as we did with our kids at the glassed Krispy Kreme Doughnut window in Savannah. I would always prefer watching doughnuts being made then live minnows being scooped. I think it’s just part of being raised as a Roman Catholic in the south. We love our doughnuts. Years ago when I told the kids we were going to church that day they would always ask: “Which one? Quaker meeting or the doughnut church”?
I was getting close to home now. Probably only 60 miles away. I had to find Centre Alabama and I was pretty sure I was on the right road. (It wasn’t well marked!) Then I saw a sign pointing to the left. It read: Centre, Rome Georgia, Mental Health Center. I needed all three so I was elated. I took a left and headed through Centre and along beautiful Weiss Lake. It’s known as the Crappie Capitol of the World and home of Loud Mouth Bass. Sorry, that should read Large Mouth Bass. More harbingers of home!
The final sign that I was back in Georgia was when I began seeing blooming magnolia trees. My heart stirred. I love magnolias in bloom, almost as much as azealas and confederate jasmine, other sure signs of the South.
I rolled up to Old Havana Cigar Bar and waddled in wearing all my motorcycle gear. A couple I knew were there. They hadn’t even known I was gone. I sat at the bar with them, had a Scrimshaw beer, a nice cigar and we chatted. Good, kind, friendly folks. A few minutes later, another friend who I had texted, Kevin Myrick came by. He gave me a manly hug. It was good to be home.