Day 14
October 14th, 2001
Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground
Cruso, North Carolina                                                            
I stayed in my tent waiting for the sun to come up.  I was packing up, and leaving out at first light.  

My little Eureka held up well in the storm.  Despite all the rain, I was still dry.  I did have some leakage around the floor seams, from the soaked ground, but nothing serious.

I stuck my head out of my tent and saw Ron Epperly's tent had been blown AWAY.  Where is he?

The wind was still blowing hard when I emerged from my tent.  It was raining.  A  miserable morning.  I struggled with my tent in the gale like wind till Sal came over and gave me a hand.

I finally got my stuff packed the ST loaded.  I went over to the pavilion and noted my route home.  I would ride west to Chattanooga, and slab it home from the north.  Atlanta would be faster, but I did not want to go there in this weather.

I tell my friends good bye, and get under way.  I toldl Ron and Sal I will see them in January on my way to the Keys.  I am resigned to the fact it will be a wet ride home.  All 420 miles.

The little creek by the campground is a full blown white water river from all the rain.  I tell the guys they better get going before the bridge is washed away, stranding them in the campground.

It is pouring rain on US 276 as I ride to Waynesville to pick up US 74 west.

The rain lets up as I clear the valley into town, and when I turn west on 74 the rain stops and the skies lighten. 
Is this a omen?

US 74 is a four lane ride west.  I leave the Blue Ridge portion of the Appalachians, and enter the Smokies.  It is still cloudy and cool, but at least its not raining.

I stopped in a rest area, to stretch my legs, and adjust the Roadcrafter.

The weather is improving, every mile I ride west.  I can see blue sky in the cloud breaks. 

In Culberson, I stopped for a snack and take out my atlas.  The sun is out.  The good weather changes my mind about the slab run on I-59 out of Chattanooga.  I decide to turn south, and come home from the east.  As I look at my map, a middle aged man approaches me-

"Vietnam vet?"

"no sir, missed it by a few years"

" I saw your MIA pin"

"a good friend in Toronto gave it to me"

"thank you for wearing it, I lost friends there"


I picked up SR 60 and entered Georgia.  I am going home the same route I used last spring when I left the rally.  
I switch over to SR 2, south to SR 5.  There will be lots of route changes today.  Thank goodness for my sleeve pocket directions.

I am having a great ride, and glad to be in the sun.

On impulse I decide to take a early lunch, and pull into a McDonalds at Elljay.  I join the after church crowd in line.  This will be my first McDonald's lunch. (not counting the fries in Chambersburg).  I have the number 5.  Chicken nuggets.

I follow 5 to SR 53 and quickly reminded this road has a few twists.  I lean the curves, and overtake a Harley rider riding 2 up.  I wave at more then a few east bound riders.  Is there a poker rally going on? 

A few miles later I go to US 411 south to Catersville.  It was in Cartersville last spring, I missed a turn and wound up in Kennesaw.  The traffic there was horrible and it cost me a hour.  I am determined not to repeat that mistake this time.

I passed a couple in a older model Chevy, looked to be in their 70s.  She was still sitting next him like teenagers.  I could tell they were on their way home from church.

In Catersville I make the same mistake.  This time I quickly noticed it, and turned around and went back to the offending intersection.  I am suppose to turn right, but there is no sign telling me that.  I only notice it because a sign pointing to Dallas is there.  No route 61 signs.  Just Dallas.  It pays to know your atlas around here.

I keep going south on 61 to Carrolton.  Soon I will be in familiar territory.  The sun is warm and I switch to touring gloves.  The afternoon is passing quickly.  In Carrolton my fuel light comes on.  For the first time all trip I see the amber light flicker.  Phil Derryberry does NOT ride to the reserve light.  I ignore it and press on to Newnan.

US 27 south will take me to I-85 and home.

The Exxon station I know to be in Newman, is near the interstate exit.  That exit is always a mess.  The highway just can't handle the amount of traffic, it has to carry.  Folks off the interstate coming and going, and mixing it up with the locals makes for congestion.

I make it to the gas station and fill up,  6.5 gallons.  Been awhile since I pumped that much gas.  Riding in the east, I pay no attention to my gas light, unless it is late at night.  I can go 50 miles on reserve, and in this part of the country, you are never more then 50 miles from a station.

My gas tank full, I merge on I-85 south and head for Montgomery.  I am 120 miles or so from Prattville.

The pace is quick and I settle in.  It has turned out to be a beautiful day.  Cloudless, warm and sunny.  The temp and humidity has markedly picked up the farther south I ride.

At 4:30pm I cross the Chattahoochee into Alabama.  I am home.  Alabama is not home to spectacular mountains or deep canyons, or quaint little towns.  Geographically, it is nothing special.  But it is my home. I live here.  I work here.  My father is buried here, and my son was born here.  My family is here.  My mother is just down the road from me.  My aunts and uncles circle me.  I see the sign welcoming me back.  The cotton fields are high and thick, it is going to be a good crop.  Wherever my travels may take me, Alabama will always be home.
I bask in the hot Alabama sun.  I feel it on my face and shoulders.  It is 85 degrees.  I think back and smile at the 27 degree morning in Maine, the blowing snow in the Adirondacks, and the chilly rain in Canada.  I savor the feeling of being so warm again.

I take the rest area near Auburn to stretch my legs, and call home.

"almost home"

"where ya at?"

"Auburn, home in a hour"

"ok we are here waiting, Chris came in to watch football on your Sony"

When I get off the phone a 70ish black man asks-

"where ya been son?"


"where is home?"


"aww almost home, welcome back"


For the first time since southern Michigan I vent out the Roadcrafter.

I get back on 85 and make short work of the ride to Montgomery.  The sun is setting in my face and its hard to see.  This is home.  I glide through the city as if on a magic carpet.  In Montgomery I take I-65 north and quickly take care of the 10 miles I need to get home.  I spend time reflecting on the ride just completed.  Good people, lots of great riding, and a lifetime of good memories.  

 I take the 179 exit and ride through east Prattville.  Everything pretty much looks the same.  It is a late Sunday afternoon and the town is quiet.

I make ALL the red lights on the east side.  I guess it was their way to honor a great ride. 

I see my friends outside of station one wiping down Truck 14, I beep my horn and they turn around and salute and bow, honoring my return.  Firefighters can be such smart asses.

The CVS pharmacy that was just a shell when I left 2 weeks ago, is almost complete.

I turn off US 31 into my neighborhood.  Nothing has changed.  The trees are no where near turning color.
I find my driveway and coast in the garage, dropping my stand.  I covered 422 miles today, and 4,801 for the trip.  I said a quick thanks to the MAN for my safe return.

I am escorted in to the smell of spaghetti and sounds of football.  Good to be home a dang awesome ride.


I was still on leave a week after my return.  I spent that time resting, and working on my journal. 

I slept late almost every morning.  I got back to running and went to see my sons last few fall baseball games.

The following Tuesday I rode to Montgomery and picked up my new mirror.  236 bucks worth.  Replacing the lid was going to have to wait.  Phil was right, when he said that little tip over was gong to cost 600 big ones. 

When I returned home I washed and waxed my bike and got it back looking good.  A few weeks later Maxpower graciously sent me his lid to replace the gouged one.  A freight company replaced his lid when it smudged his.  Michael sent me the lid saving me 350 bucks.  His lid is better then mine was before it tipped over.

I waited another 1000 miles before changing my oil.

I had a great trip, meeting new friends, and reuniting with old.  I think of Canada often and her wonderful people and land.  I will definitely return.  I can't thank the brothers and sisters up there enough.  I am truly humbled.  Without y'all it would not have been near as much fun.  

Guy - November 6th, 2001