Day 7
February 10th, 2008
Majestic Sun Condos
Destin, Florida

After a leisurely morning, we had to reluctantly pack our things and head north for home.  Check out time was 11, but we needed to be gone by 10 to arrive back in Prattville to get a few things done.

"Dang I don't wanna go home right now, the weather is gonna be great here the next few days, and its been a great trip."  "I know, but I gotta get back to work, maybe one day when I retire we can stay longer," replied Debbie.

"I'll go down and bring the Accord to the doors so we can load."  I grabbed the keys and worked the misfiring elevators without getting jammed.  The parking deck is a short walk from the front doors, so it was no big deal to bring the RT up behind the car.  Two men, on their way to play golf, walked out of the building about the time I was setting the stand.  "Fantastic motorcycle", he added, "Germans have a knack for design."  "Thanks, it really is a great ride."  And so it goes. The RT just garners attention everywhere it goes.  In so far as function and design it is hard to find fault with it, does so many things well.  It has all the things a touring bike should have right out of the crate- comfortable, agile, fast, with a great load capacity, it is adept at several missions.  
​My BMW 1200RT, draws positive comments everywhere
I park it.  Like here in front of the Majestic Sun.  All poised
and ready to take me home

I love the Honda just as much, asking me to pick is like asking a father to choose which son is his favorite.  But the BMW, is hands down, the bike the casual onlooker is drawn to.  I seldom get a compliment or a question on the ST 1300, and I never got one on the 1100, but the RT is in a different realm.  At traffic lights, or on the freeway, motorists often acknowledge me with a thumbs up when they see me.  The RT is different, you don't see them everywhere, but then again you don't see the ST 1300 often either.  

One of the great things about owing and riding these two great motorcycles is how they make the same trip or ride, a different experience.  I can return home and repeat this tour on the Honda, and get a entirely feel.  It would not be the same tour on the ST 1300, in ways I can't explain.

We had to bring the cart to the 10th floor and carry our stuff down one flight. "Man, somebody has to fix these elevators."  It was quite the hassle, but we managed to get the Accord loaded quickly.  I threw the Moto Fizz and H2W in the back seat and put my ear plugs and helmet on.  "We'll gas up at the usual place," as I placed the Arai on my head.

With Debbie following me I took the 98 by pass west towards the Mid Bay toll bridge.  We stopped at a Exxon con store and I topped off the RT's tank and the Accord.  The distance home was only 180 miles, I'd make it back with just a little less then half tank.
​Topping off BOTH tanks.  The Accord has a 15 gallon 300
mile range, and the BMW has the same range with a 7.6

The weather was perfect for a ride, cool and sunny, and the water from the Choctawhatchee Bay sparkled under me as I went up and over the bridge.  On the north side I paid my last toll in the State of Florida, "look here, I'm payin for me and the lady behind."  "Ok, 5 dollars."  My final tally on tolls for the State was close to 30 dollars, but I lost count, so don't know for sure.

I pulled the Accord through Niceville, and Valparasio, then went north on SR 85.  This route home is the preferred route for the savvy guys going to the beach.  The roads are mostly 4 lane with less towns and traffic to deal with.  In summer U.S. 331 is a quagmire and bogs down.  On paper it looks like the shortest and most direct, and it is, but actually about 30 minutes longer.   In fact, only a few Alabamians know about this route, and that's ok, we'll keep them over on 331 with all the Yankees from Ohio.

With the Accord in tow, I went to SR 85 and headed north for Alabama.  A sport bike passed and rode with me all the to Crestview.  He was military because he had on BDUs and desert boots.

In Crestview we took a early lunch in a Wendy's.  It was quick and cheap.

After lunch, we took a brief ride on U.S. 90 West to SR 189 towards Baker.  The riding is good, but I was tethered to the Accord and had to stay honest.  I got stuck behind two 60 mph pick up trucks, and had to remain patient.  I could dispose of them easily enough, but Debbie would never be able to take both of them at once.

February really is the best time of year to tour this part of the country.  Six months of the year we are locked in stifling heat and humidity, but on this day the air is thin and cool.

The smell of slow a burning fire wafted through the Conecuh National Forest.  The smell of burning twigs and logs we always stay with me after all those years in the fire department.

In Alabama the route changes to SR 137 and funnels out to U.S. 29 just south of Andalusia.  I had to keep a close check on the mirrors to make sure I didn't forget Debbie.

A young marine's family bought a billboard near the city limits asking for everyone's p



Please remember this young Marine in your prayers.  
Andalusia, Alabama.

On the west side of Andalusia we picked up SR 55 a divided highway almost to the city of Georgiana.  Not much traffic, good scenery, and smooth road.  It will take you to I-65 in short order.

Georgiana gives a Long Rider the opportunity to see the boyhood home of Hank Williams, but I've never done that, I guess I need to one day.  "I wonder if I were to become famous they'd make a shrine out of my old house on Robin Hood Road in Norfolk?"  I thought to myself as I passed the sign.

From here it was I-65 north, and the Zumo said I had 50 or so miles remaining.  

Because I know Debbie I stopped at the rest area just north of Greenville.  "How'd you know I needed to stop?"  "Baby we've been married 32 years, I just knew."  I'll have to say riding like this not exactly my kind of touring, I'd much rather pay the airfare and have her MEET me in California.

The last 35 miles home went by routinely.  The RT hummed along the interstate and rather coyly at 70 mph.  "Dang I ain't never rode 70 mph on this stretch of road."  

The construction zone on the south side of Montgomery went smoothly and before long I was nearing the Prattville exit.  It had been a good tour, and it was fun being out on a 2000 mile ride, when so many guys have their bikes in storage.  The leaning was absent, but I get enough of that on other tours.  This one was just about one guy's winter escape;  Getting some riding in, seeing interesting places, and checking on old friends.  In those terms it was very successful.

I took the second Prattville exit and followed SR 14 almost to my house.  I turned in my neighborhood and found my house just where I left it, the checkered flag displayed on my GPS, telling me I was at my destination.  I had to get off the bike and raise the garage door, then come in.  I put the stand down after a 180 mile ride for the day, and 2,108 for the tour.

Epilogue-  I plan to continue on the plugged tire till either it fails or it wears out.  So far it is doing fine.
My left turn signal failed again, a few days after my return.

A regional tour has a very different flavor then a cross country ride.  It is a nice feeling knowing you are only a hard days ride away from the house.  The miles and timing are not near as important as trying to keep to a schedule on a cross country.

The next couple of weeks were quiet times as I passed the time working on this story and being the model husband haha.  Spring will be here soon, and it will time to plan the longer and more complex tours to come.
 I hope you enjoyed the story. Comments? Questions?  Suggestions?  Drop me a note here.  mailto:firfytr@aol.com