Day 23: Longview Texas: 438 miles: Lowest Rate on Trip-$39.32: Dangerous Road Gators: Bad Motorcycle Driving: Highway 80: Journey Almost Over.


Long day in the saddle. I’m exhausted. Found a really nice Motel 6, $39.32, the lowest rate I paid on the whole trip. Had a few close calls today. There were loads of road gators (bits of tires thrown out onto the road) lurking on the highway. You have to give yourself plenty of distance so that you can spot em and react in time. I dodged almost all of them until a truck in front of me started peeling off the rubber shrapnel and I hit a small piece in the road. Thankfully, nothing happened. Later, the rain began falling lightly. I remember saying: “Wee! as I enjoyed the coolness in the changing air. The rain started falling harder so I turned off the interstate to seek refuge in a truck stop.
Braking as I got to the frontage road the rear wheel of the bike started sliding, the front wobbled and I thought I was going to crash but somehow, I won’t take credit for it, the bike stabilized. Thank you God. And be more careful Gene!
I waited for a while under a shelter until the rain slackened, put on my rain jacket and headed back out. After about 30 minutes the sky cleared and the rain stopped.
Later, a bike passed me going about 85-90 mph, the engine sounded as if it was at full throttle, the driver leaning over the tank, cutting in and out of lanes, juked left just as an 18 wheeler moved into that lane. Somehow, he survived it.
I managed to make it to my goal: Highway 80. Growing up in Savannah, Georgia, Highway 80 was sort of a mythical road for me. I learned early that it went all the way from Tybee Beach near Savannah to San Diego. As a child I remember stopping at a traffic light on Victory Drive in Savannah with my dad and him pointing with his pipe and saying: “Turn left there and keep going and you’ll end up in California.”
Highway 80 became for me an alchemical road. It promised all the things I wanted: distance, freedom, change, transformation through transit. Highway 17, which also went through Savannah, only promised Hardeeville, South Carolina or Darien, Georgia. Nice places, but not for a youth with dreams.
Today, I made it to the western terminus of Highway 80 today and hopped on it. Tomorrow, the 4th of July, I’ll take it toward “home”, and maybe end this journey.

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