The Road Home; The Majestic Diner on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta; 40 Year Reunion; Existentialism, Eggs and Grits.

On my way back to Rome, Georgia Big Red, my 2004 Harley Road King and I decided to stop at Griffin. I had earned enough frequent visitor points from a hotel chain that I got a free room at the motel. Then I had a Mexican takeaway and watched TV for a change. The Dirty Harry movies were on.

Next morning I headed to Atlanta to meet my two old buddies Jeff and Kevin for breakfast at a place we used to haunt years ago: the Majestic Diner. This was when all three of us worked at Peachtree Psychiatric Hospital. Sometimes we worked a 3-11pm shift and it was the only restaurant open. I figured that it had been forty years since the three of us had sat together in one of the booths. Back then we had talked about women (problems with or lack of) and what we wanted to do with our lives. Now, forty years later we were talking about women (problems with or lack of) and what we wanted to do with our lives. The difference was that we had forty years of existence since we had first discussed philosophy over eggs and grits. I’m not sure that any of us felt like we had learned very much. We got to talking about existentialist philosophy, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre and Marcel. Our memories were rusty, which was okay because existentialism had grown pretty rusty too. Regardless of the roads we had ridden on over the years the young, naive, arrogance and hubris of our twenties had been battered, scarred and smelted into a more pure vulnerability and humility, which was a good, albeit painful, thing.

After two hours it was time to hit our different roads and talk about when we might get together again. Maybe at Huck’s Cove right on the bayou in Gautier, Mississippi where we had ridden to once before?  Who knows? We’re more patient now. And more trusting.

Paving Over Memory Lane; Chico’s Monkey Farm; Nowhere to Go and No Hurry to get There; More Motorcycle Adventures on Back Roads Georgia Highways 17 and 341; Wooden Nickels.

I’ve never had a great memory. That’s why I write things down. Old photos of family and friends, and places I’ve been help me somewhat, but actually seeing the old things helps me the most. Highway 17 used to be the main conduit between Florida and Maine and was filled with fascinating, and sometimes troubling, roadside entertainment. When I-95 was completed, the roadside services, motor lodges and entertainments began to dry up. Highway 17 is still an important road linking communities but it’s become a four lane. That came at a further expense as when they widened the road they knocked down many of the old facilities. The rest were left derelict.

So here I am driving down the highway and trying to remember where things were. Where was  Chico’s Monkey Farm and the Dixie Jungle. Once you could see their bright pink advertising signs with garish colors and wacky designs every half mile down the road: “See the Monkeys!”, “Pet the Alligators”, “Pecan Logs” and “Souvenirs”. Men were boiling peanuts by the side of the road and there was scent of barbecue from Mammy’ Kitchen and Howdy’s Restaurant where they had the wild pink flamingos. And there was Archie’s Seafood Restaurant in Darien.

Leaving Darien this morning I decided to head north and took Highway 341, which I took all the way up to Griffin, Georgia from where I’m now writing. Got in moments before a thunderstorm hit.

Here’s just a list of observations for my memory lane:

Homes: Shotgun cottages, clapboard houses; small brick homes, some fancy, single and double wide trailers.

Trees: Pine, willow, maple, magnolias, mimosas, cypress trees in blackwater swamps.

Farms, pecan trees, peanut farms, peach groves, the scent of newly cut pine trees on a logging truck.

Peach ice cream at Dicky’s Peach Farm.

I just enjoyed the ride. I had nowhere to go and there was no hurry to get there. I daydreamed, meditated, prayed and gave thanks. Aren’t all our journeys, whether down memory lane or the four lanes of new adventures, ultimately about love? Remembering it, discovering it, preaching it?

Oh, and I passed lots of signs for Vacation Bible Schools. If they don’t teach those kids to love everyone, regardless of what roads they’ve taken to get here, then those classes aren’t worth a wooden nickel.

I remember wooden nickels.

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Long Roads-Long Memories; 1790 Inn; Reunions

What can one say about Savannah That hasn’t already been said? Probably nothing. Maybe one thing: If you go in the summer you had better be prepared. One day it was 95 degrees (35 Celsius). Today, with the humidity added in, it’s supposed to be 104 (40 Celsius). Fortunately, I was staying downtown at the beautiful 1790 Inn (which was partially built by my great grandfather). It allowed me to park the Harley and walk everywhere. Scouting out locations for scenes for my next novel. For example, if I want the character to die here, then where would the shot come from? Any trees blocking the view? How would the shooter have escaped? Not that way, it’s a one way road. Not that way, too many cameras. You get the idea. I’m looking at trees and bushes, what’s on the ground, tree roots forcing up the brick sidewalk. It’s actually fun. I also figured out where the closing scene will take place (Factor’s Walk), snapped plenty of photos and took loads of notes.

I also visited old haunts, walked through the amazing squires with the live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and memories. There’s always a melancholy beauty about Savannah.

The highlight of my trip was a impromptu reunion with many of my cousins who knew about or could make it. We ate in the room where my great uncle Harry used to live. (Photo below)

Today, I’m heading another backroads direction, Highway 341 heading north. We’ll see what we encounter as we ride. Safe travels.

 

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Back in the Saddle Again; Summer of my 64th year.

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog. After my college teaching finished this May, I spent a few weeks in London visiting with my boys, who are absolutely the most wonderful young men in the world (and it makes me cry to think of them so far away!).  I also made the obligatory stop at the London Harley Dealer, the oldest in Europe, to buy a few tee shirts.

Now, I’m researching my latest novel by spending two nights down in Savannah where the novel is set. Here’s a link to my novels: https://www.genepowers.org/

I’m staying at the 1790 Inn, which is an amazing place!  And more so because my great-grandfather built part of the building in the 1800’s and my relatives lived here into the 1950’s. I highly recommend the place. Also, the place is supposed to be haunted.

It was interesting digging out my old travel bag for this trip. I hadn’t used it since last summer. I rummaged through the pockets and found a few receipts: A night at the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico; an oil change at the Harley dealer in Elk, Nevada and a receipt for the Mountain Pine Motel in East Glacier Park, Montana. That was a wild trip to California and up to Montana. I turned the direction of my travels over to God and Fate. When you do that you’re always looking for signs and portents. And you never know where you’ll end up. But when you get there you don’t always get smacked in the face with a mackerel. Sometimes messages from Divine Providence are nonexistent or unclear. Regretfully, on last year’s trip there were no major epiphanies. Bummer.

I’m 64 and ½ years old now and feeling it. Sometimes I forget to put the kickstand up when I ride off. Sometimes I struggle with balancing this 800 pound (362kg; 57 stone.) behemoth and somehow during the year, when I wasn’t looking, someone raised my seat level (because I know I haven’t grown shorter! Grown shorter?). Anyway, it’s getting harder to swing my leg over the seat. But I managed today’s trip of over 300 miles safely.

So tomorrow I’ll be out taking photos and visiting potential sites for the novel. Tonight I was poignantly overwhelmed with the beauty of Savannah, and my memories of the years I spent here (23) with my family. I hope to also run into cousins I hadn’t seen in a while. One thing I have discovered though is that the perfect beer to pair with hot, humid southern  poignancy is a cold draft of Harp lager.