Day 1
October 11th, 2006
Prattville, Alabama

It had seemed an eternity since returning from the West Coast, and I was more then anxious to get on the road for this year's edition of the fall ride.

I was only riding to my sister's home in Gadsden, so I had a leisurely morning to prepare.  I packed my bag last night enabling me to spend the extra time taking care of errands, and getting in a nice mid morning run.

By 3 pm I had taken care of everything, and loaded the bike.  I was taking the ST on this ride.  The tires on the 1300 were the same from the West Coast trip, and both looked like they were good for another 2-3k.  I wanted to finish these tires off, and besides, I was just in the mood to ride the Honda.  Last year I had the RT in the Blue Ridge so it was only fair I take the 1300 for this tour.

I hung around the house till 4pm, because there is nothing going at my sister's house till 6 or 7 pm anyway.  
After calling Debbie and telling her good bye I fired the Honda up and brought it to operating temp before rocking off the stand and up the drive.  When I had bikes with chokes I did that so I could ride the bike off without the choke on.  Now I just do it out of habit, but I guess its good to get all the oil warmed up before taking off.

A few minutes later I was churning up the miles  on I-65 North, Birmingham bound.  Traffic was moderate, but I fell in the flow easily and settled in.

Temps were warm and muggy, with cloudy skies in the distance.

Near Verbena, I came into a mild rain that dropped the temp into the 70s.  I brought the screen up and tucked in behind it.  Big trucks left long tails of mist in their wake, and coming around them was not pleasant.
The clouds broke quickly and I enjoyed partly cloudy skies the balance of the ride.

The 1300 felt really good at 85 mph.  The smooth motor and good wind protection made it feel like 50.  The Honda ST 1300 is really a fine all around motorcycle, and I love riding mine.

I passed 2 Harley Road Kings near the Montevallo exit, they were from Georgia.  I waved at them when I came around.

At the Alabaster exit I-65 swings east.  From here to Hoover is not far, but by the time the road builders were through it would be 20 miles or better to get to Hoover.

I clung to the left lane in the building traffic as I made my past Hoover and Oak Mountain.  Temps were still warm despite the recent rain.   Near Hoover I veered off on I-459 to connect over to I-59.  I was running the far left at 85 mph and had to consistently move back over to let a 90 mph + SUV by.

On I-59 the Trussville exit was backing up, but I was 30 minute ahead of the main force and managed to slip with only a few minute delay.  It felt good to break free into the rural areas between Gadsden and Birmingham.  The 13 felt extra smooth and its power is so intoxicating.  My feelings on power go like this- no such thing as too much money, too much fun, or she's too sexy- and no such thing as too much power.

Two good ole boys in a red pick up were busy talking with their hands when I came around them near Springville.  At first I thought they were in a fight, but when I drew abreast I could see they were laughing.
In Springville I took the McDonald's exit, but went to the Shell con store next door for a short break.  I was only 50 miles from sister's, but I wasn't in a hurry, and wanted to enjoy the afternoon.  I picked up a Diet Dew and 2 Fig Newtons (low fat) and went outside on the curb.  

My brother called while I was there. 

"So where ya at?"

"Springville, gonna spend the night at Janice's"

"Better eat before ya get there cause you know she ain't gonna cook"

"Well I know that, but I'm counting on her to take me out to eat"

"So when are you suppose to get to the Blue Ridge to meet those other boys?"

"Tomorrow afternoon"

"Well have a good trip, and think about us working stiffs"

The store was very busy, a lady went inside after filling the tank of her SUV with the 2.03 gallon gas.  She stopped to speak to me on the way out.

"So where ya goin?"

"Headin to the Blue Ridge Mountains sweetie, meeting some friends for some ridin"

"aw, so nice there this time of year"

"yeah, we really like it there"

I was back on the road a few minutes later.  It was late afternoon on a warm fall day in Alabama, and the scenery was good.  Leaves here do not do a much in terms of color.  They are not bad in the northern areas of the state but the window is so small it is hard to catch them at peak, and varies widely from year to year.  Some years they peak in October and others it can be early December.

As for me, I've seen fall all over the American East and enjoy it every year.  The only problem is the sometimes cold weather I've had to battle to do it.

By 7pm I was peeling off I-59 at the 759 connector and moving up Rainbow Drive to my sister's.  Janice moved here after she married in the early 70s.  Back then Gadsden was a bigger city then Prattville, but no longer.  My hometown is now a sprawling suburb, dotted with vast neighborhoods of new homes, with all the chain stores and shopping centers bidding for the best land.

Gadsden fell victim to the declining steel and tire business and was hurt badly, but in the last few years has started to make a comeback.

I turned in her neighborhood of tall trees and older homes, and was soon looking down her long driveway at the empty space in her carport.  She was expecting me and shuffled the cars around to give me a spot of covered parking for my beloved Honda.  It's nice to be loved.

I let myself in and was warmly greeted.

"HEY! I see ya made it!"  She shouted at me.

"Why ya seem so surprised, I said I was comin"

"Yeah, but you only see me when you're on the way to or from someplace, I guess I ain't worthy of a stand alone visit."

Newt (husband) came in from his hospital rounds about 30 minutes later.  My sister and husband are also empty nesters so we passed the time chatting about old times.

Supper was some BBQ chicken take out.

When I was changing clothes I discovered I had forgotten the wall charger for my Motorola Razor.  I'll have to pick one up somewhere on the way out in the morning.  My phone is essential equipment.

I filled my sister on the latest concerning mother's estate, and what was coming next, after updating her, it was time for bed.  I adjourned to my usual room when I'm in town and was asleep by 12.  It was a good evening, and I was looking forward to the next day's ride.

Next- the Cherohala Skyway and the Blue Ridge Parkway
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