Tour of Honor Ride 4

This is starting to become a habit. I kind of like the ride and the history about some of the memorials that I visit. Trying to get a picture of some of the sites can be a bit challenging. As of this writing, not sure if I will get credit for one of the pictures since I didn’t get a picture of the bike.

I had made a deal with my bride that if I did some painting on Sunday, she would agree to me going on a ride on Monday. First part of the negotiation was to do the ride later in the week and do a bit more work around the house on Monday. When I explained that Monday was looking to be the only day to ride without 50% or more chance of thunderstorms, she agreed. I got a keeper!

I also didn’t want to be around the house when the workers came to do some additional work I wanted them to do. I tend to want to be hands on. I was afraid that I would get in the way and end up things taking longer with me trying to micro-manage (and I hate people that micro-manage).

I get my chores done on Sunday and spend a few hours planning my route. I knew the sites I wanted to visit, so I tried to just put them all in the bike and create a route directly in the GPS. Nope, that isn’t a good idea. If it works, it is more trouble than it is worth. So back to the PC and my trusty planning software. Get the route all planned out then saved in the bike.

Being retired, I don’t use the alarm clock all that often. But it seems that when I do need the alarm, I manage to wake up before it goes off. I had posted on a couple of Facebook groups that I was leaving at 8:00am for a full day of riding, leaving from a gas station near the house. I get there to gas up and no on else is there. Okay with me, I don’t mind riding alone.

First stop if the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. WOW! The parking lot was full. Not only with cars, but buses and buses. I ended up parking the bike near the employee entrance. I am supposed to get a picture of the bike at the museum entrance to validate that I did ride the bike there if I can’t get a picture of the memorial with the bike. I go to the employee entrance and asked if the Huey is located in an area where I can ride the bike. The lady at the desk politely tells me not likely and that it is within the museum, so I would need to pay an entrance fee to the museum. I frown that I will plan to come back for a full tour (Huntsville is only about 90 minutes from the house), today I just need a picture of the Huey with my rally flag. She makes a call and says she will get me an escort. I rush out to the bike to get my rally flag and meet my escort, David. He leads me through the back of the museum, through the crowds of kids, to the Huey. He explains that some of the rockets are coming down this week to get repainted. I ask that since he is escorting me, would he object to taking a picture of me with the Huey and my rally flag. He willing takes a couple of pictures. I thank him and we head back to the employee entrance for me to leave. I thank Janice (the wonderful lady at the desk) and David (my escort), get a picture of them for my memories, and head out to the bike. Load everything up and back on the road.

My next stop is on the south side of Huntsville. I avoid the highway and only have a couple of turns to get to the next location with only a few stop lights along the way. There are two Hueys at the Veterans Museum. I just have to find them. I get to the museum and realize that it is closed on Monday. Not news I wanted to hear. The building isn’t all that big, and there are some heavy artillery outside, maybe I can find the Hueys. I ride about the museum and readily find one. I get that picture and think that maybe the other one is inside. Then I spot it! Behind the building. And even closer to where I can park the bike. Another quick photo opportunity and I am on the road again.

I enjoy a quiet ride through the farm lands and hills of eastern and northwest Georgia. Winding, secluded roads to Summerton-Trion, Georgia. My goal is to find a Doughboy statue. I know the GPS location, but not always are they in locations that are conducive to pictures with the bike. My route takes me through this little town and onto a road in the middle of nowhere. At the end of the road is a veterans center, with a Doughboy statue at the front door, and ready parking to get a picture.

A short ride to Rome, Georgia and I am at GA6. This is located in front of the Law Enforcement Center in downtown Rome. BUSY road in front of the memorial. GPS tries to tell me to ride on the walking trail beside the building, that isn’t happening! I find a few parking spots and an area where I can park the bike for a minute to try to get the pictures.

Short ride to Tallapoosa, Georgia. Uneventful, other than road construction that adds about 15 minute delay waiting and minor panic about the location. I ride into town knowing that there is both a Huey and the memorial close to each other. I see a park with veteran memorials, but no Huey. And the GPS is telling me to keep going. I go through town and even more panic sets in as I am about to completely leave town. Then the GPS wakes up and says “Turn right in 1/2 mile.” I easily spot the Huey. Parking lot isn’t even close to level and I park the bike at an awkward angle. I get the picture and struggle to get the bike off the kickstand. I check the internet to find exactly where the memorial is located and a sample picture. I look around the park and see the site at the lower part of the park. I ride around and park the bike. I have to climb up a small hill to get a good picture of the bike and the memorial. Picture taken, I rush down the hill and hop back on the bike.

I take off and head to Piedmont, Alabama. Maps and GPS show about 30-45 minute ride through forest and some farmland. I take off and am enjoying the ride. Until I see “bridge out.” Detour routes me on a fire road. For those that don’t know, fire roads through state and national forests are usually steep and poorly maintained gravel or dirt roads. “Only” 3 miles. You know that GPS assumes that roads without posted speed limits can be traveled at 55+ mph, and that there aren’t many vehicles that could navigate a fire road at 55mph. And my bike is NOT going to do 55mph on a gravel road, no matter how well they maintain it. I finally get back on pavement and follow the detour. It happens to lead to a second bridge that it out, which leads to another gravel road. And this leads to ANOTHER bridge out, or is this the opposite side of one of the other bridges? GPS keeps sending me back and forth. I make a turn opposite the GPS’s suggestion and try it.

I glance in my mirror and see yellow flapping behind me. NO! Don’t tell me I have just lost my replacement rally flag! I pull over to the side of the road and put my rally flag back in my tourpak. I am rolling again, but this “recalculating” and “make a legal U-turn” is really getting on my nerves. I break down and call my bride. I have no idea where I am, and even less clue about where I am going. I should be going north or northwest, but the GPS is showing south and southeast. She checks my location on Spot (my satellite tracking system). She gives me directions to get back on track. I have only lost an hour during this experiment.

I am finally on a road with other vehicles! I even see a couple of tractor-trailers! I turn north and see that my final memorial for the day is about 15-20 miles straight ahead! I pull into Piedmont with no further excitement. With many of the memorials off the road, and the Tour of Honor giving GPS locations, car (and bike) GPS units don’t know how to handle parks and parking lots. I circle around the park and pull into the parking lot. A few other cars are in the lot, so I do my best to get a couple of pictures.

My final memorial of the day is a block from US278. This is a fairly easy ride home, though still about 3 1/2 hours from home. Mostly 2-lane, scenic, and moves quite well. The few times I come to slower traffic, they are either turning shortly or there is a passing area. I pull into Gadsden and realize that I haven’t stopped to rest my body or even had a bite to eat. I stop to take a rest. I get a milkshake and a glass of water. I sit there and do some people watching.

I mention people watching because I just enjoy doing that, you never know what you will see. As I was placing my order, there was a guy with two teenager girls. He appeared older than their father, and it just didn’t look right. He had a different accent, more European than southern. He ordered for them, paid in cash, and gave one of the girl’s names for the order. Before he went outside, he told them in rather harsh tone to “behave and don’t do anything stupid!” It really struck me as odd. I sat there a while and just watched. It seemed that every move the girls made, they would look around as if checking to see if he had come back. I am usually someone that minds my own business, but I decided I couldn’t let this go.

I looked around and didn’t see the guy. I walked up the girls and asked if they were ok. They looked puzzled. I kept a watch for the guy and told them that if there was any problems and they needed help, let me know and I would get them some help. They laughed and said that everything was ok. I explained that with run-aways and child abuse, I was only trying to help. They again confirmed that everything was ok.

I left, still not seeing the guy show up. Back on the road home.

I was about an hour later than planned getting home. 440 miles on the bike today. I filled up the tank once on the road and around the corner from the house. Gas mileage wasn’t too bad either, just over 44 miles per gallon.

Overview of today:
3 bridges out
Construction delays
3 Tour of Honor memorials
4 Hueys
1 Doughboy
11 hours of wind therapy!

Total tally for my Tour of Honor (assuming everything counts):
10 Tour of Honor Memorials (including 5 of the 7 memorials in Alabama)
7 Hueys
2 Doughboys

Wonder where I will be heading next. I have the two I missed from my last ride in south Alabama. I have Tennessee and Mississippi memorials that I have started. Virginia is calling my name for baseball tournaments and I usually ride the bike there. Who knows what Tour of Honor Ride 5 holds.

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