The Ride Across America Part 1
Hey, scooter trash, it’s time to saddle up! Summer is coming at us fast and it’s time to start thinking about a long sweet ride. I have a great story to tell you about a journey from South Carolina to the great Wild West that lasted 21 days! It all started way back in 2004, when I finally decided that it was time to take a real ride, not just a two or three day shot, but a serious ride to see the great outdoors and explore the wide open American west. Some of you have been riding a while, but I’ve been riding a Harley D for 31 years. So far, I have made the trek I am writing about three times! So, sit back, pay attention, think about it and plan your own trip.
Just for those disbelievers out there, I made the trip out west again in 2008 and 2009. You’re next thought is probably, “Who can afford a trip like this?” I can already hear some of you making excuses like, “I don’t have the time!” Well you can afford it if you slightly tighten up the belt and quit throwing away money like it grows on a tree.
Save some cash! Put your change in a jar every night! If I can do it, then you can do it too. Besides I don’t have to tell you that there is nothing better than jumping on your scooter with just what you need and hitting the blacktop to see what America has to offer. Ok, maybe time is short, so plan a ride for next year or make it a two-week journey instead of three weeks and quit thinking of excuses not to go. Remember, you only live once!
Three weeks will give you some serious riding and the opportunity to see some of the best and most beautiful scenery that our great country has to offer. I will tell you about the first 5 days of the 2008 ride this issue so you can see that it IS possible and let you know just what you are missing out on.
On the morning of July 5th 2004, my bro Big Dave and I took off from Longs, South Carolina, and rolled South to New Orleans, the Big Easy, for the first leg of our journey. We decided to take the big Route 20 to get some miles under our belt and miss all the Atlanta traffic.
When traffic slowed us to a crawl, we dropped down Route 83 and picked up a beautiful two lane stretch of road that took us through the Oconee National Forest off Hwy #16. My cares soon began to fall off like leaves, as we cruised through forgotten little towns. Eventually, we made our back to Route 85. On a funny side note, as we rode around the center of a town called Griffin, I yelled over to Big Dave, “We should stop and have a long neck.” I was feeling a little dusty and wanted to partake in my favorite sport of lifting cold 16 oz thirst busters. He pulled up next to me at a light and said, “You don’t want to stop here, these boys are true southerners and, if they hear my Yankee accent, it could spell trouble.”
So we continued onward and upward. I would have tested the waters in that little town for a cold brew and tried my luck, but calmer heads prevailed. So, instead, we headed for our target city in LaGrange, Georgia, which gave us about 450 miles & 8 hours in the saddle. We decided to call it a day, find a cheap place to soak up the dirt and relax for a night.
Day 2 started out early, taking us straight to our destination via Route 85 past Montgomery and on through Mobile, Alabama. About 410 miles later, we rolled into the Big Easy, where we hooked up with my friend Kathy to stay for a couple of nights and three days. There are a lot of things to do in the Big Easy without spending the big dollars and we had a couple of days to see what we could get into. For example, we took a ride around the city on the old fashioned trolley system.
These ancient feeling machines take you all around the city and give you an opportunity to see how those folks in Louisiana live. An absolute MUST see is the National World War II Museum. For a few bucks and a couple hours of your time, this is well worth it – it will give you a pretty good idea what our military men and women had to go through to protect our freedoms around the globe in a time before most of us were born. I even got to take a pic of my favorite General, George Patton. Of course, a visit here would not be complete without checking out Bourbon Street.
During our time, we dropped in on a slew of great bands and just had to sample the local hooch to make sure it was up to snuff, which it was. I assure you that whatever trips your trigger, you won’t be disappointed in that town. It is a little known fact, but Bourbon Street is as busy any night of the week, as it is during Mardi Gras! If you can’t have a great time here, you’ve got issues.
Of course, my friend Kathy took us to some of the local non-tourist joints as well, like the Bulldog! This is a great spot to meet some of the true locals and find out what the Big Easy is all about at her heart. If you like great looking bartenders, The Den is a special wow zone for you!
Their female bartenders are spectacular looking and this one was wearing a sort of Stevie Nix type black dress. Just to give us a goose, she gladly lifted her dress, so we could sample her wares. Those thongs can get you really excited! I’ll take two please… Beers I mean.
If you love the Blues, you can catch them from any corner in the Big Easy. One of the best stops we made was the Funky Pirate located at 727 Bourbon Street. The band on tap that night was Big Al Carson. He does not disappoint! In fact he was so good that I bought three of his CD’s and played them on the scoot when we left town. Of course, you have got to try the local cuisine. Asking Kathy where to go, she directed us to what she referred to as one of the most famous eateries in New Orleans – Mother’s! Established in 1938, located at 401 Poydras St at Tchoupitoulas, this place is hopping with hungry folks. You need to get in line early here, ‘cause this is one secret that everyone knows – You has gots to eat heres.
Right inside the front door, some dude was standing there, singing loudly and claiming to be Elvis. I took a look at Big Dave and laughed in wonderment, while we pushed our way in to order. I immediately jumped into a Crawfish Etoufee Omelet. Yeah, it was spectacular! You get so much food there that you can barely stuff it in. Ok enough. When we got back to the pad, our bellies were so full that I don’t remember my head hitting the cool side of the pillow. The next couple of days took us across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, before we crossed into land known as California, but that is another story for the next issue.
Ok, the Judge says this trip sounds pretty damned good so far, huh? Well make plans now and borrow the money, take out a loan or tell your parents you need emergency open-heart surgery, but find the money, the will and the time. You won’t regret it. Oh yeah and take your old lady with you. She will be very grateful for a long time to come and she is well worth it. Safe riding, watch the cages, and check the tire pressure! We’ll have a sit down next issue and discuss the finer points of getting crawdads out of your leathers and crossing the Western Deserts without becoming buzzard bait.
Until then… I am Dave “The Judge” Carlson.