Day 12
May 24th, 2005
Nashville, Tennessee

Anxious to ride, I was up before Uncle Phil this morning, showering and taking care of some light packing.  Dawn was just breaking in the holler, and I wanted to get on the road early to avoid the Nashville rush hour, and to arrive home with a good part of the day remaining to run a few miles then ride my Trek.

By 6am I was loaded and ready to go.  I had a few final words with my good friend and riding partner, and dropped the 1300 into first and eased out the long driveway to Charlotte Pike Road.
​Back where I belong.  Uncle Phil took this picture as I was
leaving the holler.  It was good to be back on my beloved

I had to remind myself what side of the road to take when I left the holler.  I was just getting use to the UK when all of a sudden I have to change again.

I can't remember when I looked my forward to a ride.  In the UK I really missed my 1300, and as I worked the gears up the I-440 connector I knew why.  In a breath I was on 90 mph and it felt like 50.  I don't care what anyone says, the ST 1300 is a awesome motorcycle.  After riding the VFR for 2000 miles, the 13 was Cadillac smooth and quiet.  One of the items I notice so readily when switching from my 1100 to the 13 is its roll on power in the 90 mph range.  The 1100 kind of drops a bit, and the wind rush over the fairing and screen picks up, but not on the 13.  Fine tune the adjustable screen, and the fairing will do the rest.

At 90 mph the VFR was beating me to death, I don't see how I could ride it all day at that speed, but on my ST 1300, its like going for a loaf a bread.

The powerful and smooth V4 loped along.  I took the fast lane and connected to I-65, on the somewhat deserted expressway.  It was cool for this time of year, and a bright sun was casting my shadow to my right.  For an instant I forgot which lane I needed to be in to overtake, I kept wondering why all these jokers were drag assing in the fast lane.  Hey, its only been a few miles since I've been back!

The road was wide and smooth, and after the narrow and congested UK roads, it felt as if school had just been let out.   The geography was more open and things looked big.  Large houses, big cars and trucks, and huge shopping malls with massive parking lots.  Yep, back in the U.S.A.

In a little more than 1 hour I knocked off 100 miles and was back in Alabama.   Home!  Unable to hold back, the 1300 eased up to 100 mph on the empty southbound interstate.  I knew it was risky but I had a good feeling.  The morning was beautiful and I was going to enjoy it to the max.   I sped to my first break of the day after jetting 125 miles.  "Damn that was quick," I mumbled as I came off I-65 near Decatur and found a so so con store, I was looking for a muffin and a Mountain Dew.  Not had a MD since day 1 and I was in bad need.
One hundred twenty five miles is a half day ride in England.

I placed my drink and muffin on the counter and the clerk quietly rung me up.  " Two dollars 25 cents," in what now seemed a strange southern accent.  Funny how you adjust to the whatever environment you find yourself.  By the time I left the UK I was getting good at deciphering the accents, and was having to say "huh?" less and less.  Prior to my visit, all British sounded the same to me.  Scotts, Welshman, Liverpool and London chaps were all indistinguishable to my uneducated ear.   But things are different now.  I was a lot better at copying the sounds and enunciations, and if left for a year, my southern accent would fade.

Just like we caught David Whitley using the word "fixin," I caught myself saying, fancy, ye, chaps, mate, bloody, and blimey.  In one of the pubs I KNOW I said, "well yeah the viffer is a nice bike, but I fancy gettin back on my 1300."  I quickly closed my mouth with my hand and looked around, but no one caught it.  No kidding.
The door swings both ways.  Moff was something else, he could sound like he was from Georgia anytime he wanted.  After hanging around us for a few days, he quickly grasped the dialect and voice inflections.  I think that has something to do with our roots.  Southerners and Brits use words no else does.  Like, "reckon."  You won't hear that word above the Mason-Dixon, but you will hear it everywhere in the UK.

I think we copy each others accents so well because the southern accent is a natural derivative of the English.  Much of the south was settled by British aristocracy, and our accent is just a different version of theirs.   Don't know that for a fact, just my theory.

But here in this con store this man knew nothing about all that.  Now I know how strange I must sound to those who seldom hear it.  For the first in my life I found out what a southern accent really sounds like, because for 8 or 9 days I heard the British almost exclusively.

I took my snack outside and propped on the newspaper rack.  The paper in the glass had the shocking headline-"GAS TO HIT 2.50 A GALLON BY LABOR DAY."  I thought, "so what?"  I just spent a week paying about 6.  I smiled and shook my head.
​The local paper was concerned about high gas prices.  The
editor better never go to the U.K.

A black man went in the store and on his way out we spoke.  "How ya doin?"  I responded, "pretty good."  He asked where I was from, and what I did back in Prattville.  " I was a firefighter for 26 years, but retired last month."

"I was a state employee for 10 years, but I when I left I cashed my pension out and blew it, now I ain't got NUTTIN, so still workin everyday.  If I hada stayed on I'd be close to gettin MY check now, nuttin beats a 25 year retirement."

"Well just do the best ya can."  He really needed to talk to Tim Granville for career advice, not me.

I-65 south was mostly empty.  A few 18 wheelers and SUVs were out and about, but not much else.  I decided my next stop would be the Waffle House at exit 246 in Pelham, just south of Birmingham.  I always stop there on my way home from tours, and didn't want to change now.  I even ate there with Debbie returning from Gatlinburg last December in the Accord.

The miles went quickly to Birmingham.  I was singing and day dreaming most of the way to the city.  I wished I was on the way to California, it was just too good a day for a ride, and I loved being back on my 1300.  

I entered Birmingham on the north side and worked my way across 3 lanes to the far left.  I thought about Birmingham, England while I was coming through.  Both cities use to support a lot of steel industry, but that has declined a lot in Alabama.

The reserve light had been flashing for 40 miles, but I wanted to put off stopping till lunch.  I took exit 246 and motioned for the service lane.  The access road was a left turn off the main highway, and a concrete median split the lanes.  I forgot where I was and turned from the highway and went to the left of the lane divider!  Geezus!  A car was coming at me, and I cut and dipped the 1300 back and to my right and made it around the divide to the proper lane.

I was astonished when I looked to my trip meter and noted the 1300 and I had just put down 225 miles, "man that was easy enough," as I turned the key off.

The Waffle House greeted my return as it has so many times before.  I went inside and took a booth, placing an order for a grilled chicken.  Time to get back to eating well,  I have a workout to do this afternoon, and wanted nothing to weigh me down.
​When I stop here, I know I'm almost home.  You can see
it was a beautiful day for a ride.

My waitress was a young black girl, that asked if I was ever scared of riding.  " Well, no, but I respect it."  I showed her the pictures of my recent trip. 

"You were in England?"


  "Ain't that where they drive on the wrong side of the road?"

 "Yeah, and some folks do it here too."  I said with a grin as I though back to my little deal a few minutes earlier.
I called Chris and said I was almost home, but not to call his mother.  I wanted to surprise her by coming straight to her office when I make Prattville.

It was a quick lunch, and I jumped back on the 1300 and took care of the last 60 miles home.  I reflected on the great experience just completed.  It was awesome and a once in a lifetime tour.  I want to do it again someday.
I took the 186 exit and took the short cut down Martin Luther King Drive to downtown Prattville.  It looked like Mr. Powell just planted his corn.  His farm lies just outside the city limits.  

MLK took me within a block of fire station 2, where I worked for over 20 years when I was with the fire department.  I thought about that as I went the last few blockks to my wife's office.  I went to the rear parking lot and called her.

"Hey, where ya at now?"

  "Step out the back door." 

We reunited and she said, "now don't go home and make a mess."  Dang, I was planning on doin just that, gonna dump all these dirty clothes in the floor, and strow bags everywhere." 

"uh uh, ya better not." 

"Call Chris and we'll eat out tonight to celebrate my return."

I left Debbie and a few minutes later was pulling in my garage.   I said a prayer for my safe return, and went in the house.  It was good to be home.  Add the miles to Nashville and back I rode 2400 miles for the tour.

I made some peanut butter and jelly toast and the next few hours I sorted mail, checked my web site, and logged in to the ST owners forum to let everyone know I was home safe. Then went for a 20 mile bike ride, and ran 5.  I also spent a few minutes with my mother.  A busy afternoon.

We met Chris at Outback that evening, and I discussed my trip and caught up on the things at home.  A great tour and a wonderful time.  Looking forward to California in a few weeks.

Epilogue-  The days following this tour I lounged around and began preparing in earnest for the west coast.  I took the 1300 to the Honda shop for tires and pre ride inspection.   You can learn more about that here.  I also washed and waxed it.

I still had about 4 pounds in my pocket, but no place to spend it.

The next day I took the 1100 out for a 50 mile ride.  It was fun.

I was surprised I only gained 1 lb in the UK.  I was back training that very day but a few days later I was layed up with a sore left calf, so rode the Trek exclusively.  In a week I was over it and back running.

I'd like to thank all my new friends in the U.K. for helping pull this off.  It took a lot of work by more than a few folks.  I know the trouble many endured to host us.  It did not go unnoticed.  I won't mention any names for fear of forgetting someone, but y'all know who you are.  Thank you, and the door swings both ways.

To Uncle Phil, thanks for you companionship, your wisdom, and the river bags.  Take care brother.

So ends my story of the U.K.  Let me know what you think, what was fun and what was dumb.  If you have questions or comments shoot this way.  Firfytr@aol.com