Thursday, August 15, 2013


   The morning started before seven. I awoke knowing that it would be a long day but a good, easy day of riding. Ken, my brother in law and partner on my trip to Canada had arrived the night before and we would be in the wind again, sharing miles.
     It isn't ever easy, saying goodbye to family. My girls started with the tears the night before and I was not looking forward to leaving them. In the a.m., they helped my wife with breakfast as Ken and I tied up lose ends. I made the hugs quick and tight and I closed the garage door hoping the walls of our home would keep them safe until I returned. Watching them wave out the window as I left resulted in mixed emotions. I was excited but in the back of my mind, I was ready to return before I had even left my street.
     We stopped at a local big box. No matter how well you prepare, you always forget something. For Ken, it was swim trunks and flip flops. He wanted a spark plug socket and ratchet as well so we hit the mall. For some reason, I was reminded of the movie "Wild Hogs."
      Our first stop was Barber's Museum, a quick ride from my home. I tried to pick the best roads between the two points, roads Ken might have overlooked when he lived in Birmingham. Twisty roads are always fun unless there is slow traffic in front of you, Unfortunately for us, we were cursed with dumptrucks. It did not stop my enjoyment. It wasn't even noon yet and I was already having the time of my life.
     Ken was unfamiliar with Barber's before this trip. He asked me if it was a museum for hair cutting or milk. He has quite the sense of humor. He was indeed aware of the facility but I know after seeing his face upon entry that he had no idea what we were going to see.
     When we walked in, he literally stopped dead in his tracks, his face frozen in that "wow" expression you feel lucky to evoke in someone. We walked the entry level before going lower and higher, examining finer, small details and other times just the big picture of a particular bike. Though brief, it was an excellent visit and it made me proud of the city of Birmingham.
     Nashville, our first stop, wasn't getting any closer. We needed food before hitting the road. I asked Ken what he wanted fully knowing I had already picked our lunch destination. Sam's Super Sandwicches in Homewood is a quaint, little hole in the wall. Literally. It is almost like someone decided to open a hot dog stand in a hallway. There is a music store I worked at in high school within walking distance. Most Saturdays the owner would send me or my coworrker to get burgers and dogs for everyone. Maybe my opinion of the food is seasoned with nostalgia but I have taken many to eat and none have been disappointed.
     Snaking through Homewood, we gassed up and hit 31. I have taken 31 south several times but rarely north. I love a good back road. I don't mind the spurts of speed mixed with slow punctuated with stop signs and traffic lights. I like old Main Streets and seeing what lives and what has died. No matter how many of them I see I always regret that I can't stop at all of them and always feel like I've missed something great.
     Being on the road with Ken again is nothing short of magic. The fact that he is family and he rides almost made a trip of some sort obligatory. The fact that we are excellent travel companions is pure luck. At times today, he would sneak up and I would catch at glimpse of him in the corner of my left eye. Looking over, he was always grinning ear to ear. I am pretty sure I was too. Other than one bonehead driver, the road was a loving mistress caressing us with green grass and blue skies. Gas stops were covered with caching up and talk of road trips past.
     The new custom molded earphones my wife got me worked better than any other earphones I've ever had. For once I could hear the music, not just that there was music. 15 miles from our KOA I let the phone GPS lead and we arrived, checked in and were done for the night.
     Desperately trying to avoid social media, I only looked at my notifications, not the feed. I checked in on Bamarides and on my kids. During all of this, Ken left for beer and dinner. I cooked lentil soup on the picnic table with my camp stove. I added hot sauce from friends which added another layer of awesome to an already stellar day.
     I am 2/3rds of a six pack in and 1/9th of my way through this vacation and I can't compare it to other rides but this one is up there already. Tomorrow we see Nashville and add three more personalities to the mix. Instantly, I am regretting not packing popcorn.


  1. You passed my town about an hour south of Nashville on 31.

  2. Yeah, he missed out on Mexican.

    We'll be down for Barber in October. You'll have to point us towards some good eats. Last time I rode through Birmingham, it was midnight & we were a little out of it.

  3. Russ-yeah, I figured I would be close at some point but wasn't sure. If I had more time I would have dropped in to ruin your day.

    Mayor-When you gents are here I'll point you to the good stuff.


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