2022 Tour of Honor – Arkansas Trophy Run

Wednesday, April 20th

I got up, packed for my trip, then loaded everything on the bike. I wasn’t rushing, nor was I taking my time. I was trying to be deliberate as I packed.

I couldn’t find my usual pack for the laptop, electronic cables, and books, so I just my old backpack. It is bigger than the one I have been using, and it weighs a little more. I got things loaded, then I saw the trackball. I just put it in the bag with my clothes and planned to move it tonight.

A prayer and goodbye kisses, I was on my way. The GPS wasn’t wanting to use the route I had planned, but I knew we would get on the same route once I was out of town. I stopped to top off gas and start all the trackers.

As I neared US-43, the GPS wanted me to eventually make a right on Woodward (US43N and US 72E), then immediately make a u-turn. I made the left turn onto US-43S and we started working together. I would have chosen a different route to Okolona, but I got there safely and easily.

I got the required picture. I thought that I might see the Chief, but I was in and out quickly.

Okolona, MS

I left the setting to use highways since I was more interested in putting miles on the bike and getting to the different sites as quickly as possible. Leaving Okolona, I hit I-55 for a few miles, then a lot of backroads. There are no interstates between some of the sites I wanted to visit.

I visited Charleston, MS, then on to Strong, AR. At Strong, the site is a Statue of Liberty replica. This also counted toward the Statue of Liberty visits.

From Strong, it was getting late so I scrapped visiting a couple of the locations in Louisiana and headed straight to the hotel. I pulled under the canopy, parked the bike, and made my reservation. I waited a couple of minutes then went to check in.

This was one of the friendliest check-ins that I have had in a while. The people were so nice and helpful.

I went to the restaurant next door. We had been to another of this chain’s locations in Virginia, so I thought I was familiar with the chain, WRONG. I ordered a margarita. Since it was Happy Hour, I got two for the price of one. I ordered a large cheese dip with beef to go with the chips. I wasn’t going to take the chance of getting sick with salsa again. I ordered steak flank over rice.

The margaritas were so watered down that they tasted awful. The chip dip was greasy. The steak and rice were not very appetizing. I drank less than half of one of the margaritas, not quite half of either the dip or the steak. I headed back to the hotel.

I planned the ride for tomorrow. The original plan had a lot of doubling back on interstate. I worked and found a way to spend some more time on AR-7, a very scenic and twisty road, with less time on the interstate.

Today’s ride:

Day 1 Route

Thursday, April 21st

Going to bed early last night meant that I was up early this morning. Of course, the person in one of the nearby rooms was making a lot of noise. I packed up and left about an hour and a half earlier than planned. I checked the breakfast area, but there was nothing there I wanted.

I started on the interstate, heading to Shreveport. The first memorial of the day was in Keithville, just south of Shreveport. I kept pace with the few trucks on the roads and had the cruise control at about 85, the speed limit was 75. Light traffic, until I hit Shreveport. The 15 minutes that I had saved off the trip was quickly eaten up in traffic. Once through town, the traffic lightened up.

I pulled to the first location and noticed it was in the Veterans Cemetery. I got the pictures to earn credit for the cemetery. I saw two different memorials, so I tried the check the app. I did not have cell coverage, so I was not sure which one to submit. I got pictures of both.

Initially, the GPS had indicated that I would be back-tracking almost to the point where I had gotten off the interstate. As I left, I noticed that I wasn’t turning at one intersection and was taking a new route. It was a pleasant trip through country areas, farms, and little towns. Once back on the interstate, I picked up speed and was quickly on my way back into Arkansas.

When I made my first stop of the day in Arkansas, I was still about an hour and a half ahead of schedule. The site in Fouke, AR was a memorial near the High School. It was at class change, and the kids were walking around. I rode past and stopped at the memorial. The phone still did not have cell coverage, but I was able to see the memorial and got my picture. I was not able to submit it, and the previous sites were still in limbo.

Fouke, AR

Fouke was only a few miles from Texarkana, so I took advantage and visited one of the sites from Texas. If was on State Street, which was along the line separating Arkansas and Texas. I was not able to park to get a picture similar to the picture with the bike, so I got one from the front and one from the back.

Texarkana, TX

I was soon back on the interstate heading to Sheridan, AR. This memorial was a plane that had crash landed. I got a couple of pictures and made a donation to the memorial park. Again, still no cell coverage to see what I was to photograph, but I got enough that I later knew I had enough.

Heading to Benton was the stress of the day. The interstate was under construction and traffic was routed in different directions. Since I do not have the new GPS configured to show me the compass heading, I got turned around. When I finally got on the road, headed in the direction I wanted to go, I had spent about 30 minutes in Benton.

The backroads I have picked to avoid the interstate were beautiful. There was a little traffic, but most people were moving along. Near the end of AR-7, I got behind a car from Montana. They were doing 15-20 mph BELOW the speed limit! Even when it was just the warning to slow in tight curves, they even slowed down more. When I got to Paris, AR, I was about two hours ahead of schedule.

I checked the map at Paris and the best way to the hotel for the night was to double-back about 30 miles. It was a nice two-lane road through little towns, so I enjoyed the trip. Once I got close to the interstate, it was another 50 miles of interstate. I had set to visit two memorials in Conway before heading to the hotel. I decided to just head straight to the hotel.

The original route had been to leave at 8am and arrive at the hotel at 7:30pm with 570 miles of traveling today. I left at 6:45am, and made it to the hotel at 5:00pm. The ride was beautiful, the temps were in the mid to upper 70’s, and mostly cloudy. A few sprinkles, but no rain.

Day 2 – Route

Supper tonight was a little walk, but it was worth it. And the walk helped me burn calories that I consumed! The place was Burgers, Pies, and Fries. It is a chain in the area, only three stores. Conway, Searcy, and Jacksonville, all in Arkansas. The burgers were a little different, but I couldn’t quite find the difference. The lady told me as I was leaving, they don’t use ground beef, then use brisket. I took a cherry fried pie and a chocolate shake back to the room for my dessert while I watch Young Sheldon and planned the route for tomorrow.

Burgers, Pies, and Fries

If I leave at 8am, I should be able to stop at Ash Flat, Jonesboro, and West Memphis while still getting home by shortly after 5pm.

Friday, April 22nd

I didn’t get a good night sleep last night. Putting it plainly, I over ate and was paying the price. And I am not sorry!

I was packed and rolling about 7am. I stopped at the 9-11 memorial at the fire station near the hotel. My route showed me an easy access in and out of the hotel on my next trip there. At 7am, the town was quiet. I rode past the local college and a few students were doing their morning logs. I got my picture at the fire station then headed to my next site.

Conway, AR 9/11 Memorial

I have been to the Gold Star Memorial in Beebe, so I knew the route a little better than the GPS. The GPS wanted me to take the highway, then double back to the memorial. I knew the backroad would be quicker and it would be easier to access the parking. As I started to submit the pictures, the apps notified me that I would need tow pictures. I got a second one while I was at the bike in the parking lot.

Beebe, AR Goldstar Memorial

I spent a few minute on the interstate, then on the wonderful Arkansas backroads through the Ozarks. I stop at a local gas station. The attendant came out, wiped the gas spigot, then tipped it to make sure there was none of the other gas in the hose. We talked while I pumped the gas. There was not credit/debit charging on the gas pump. Once I filled the tank, I gave him the money. I followed him inside to get my receipt. I spoke with the manager/owner. This was the old style gas station, they had two bays to work on cars. This was just a gas station with a car shop, no convenience store. It was a fresh change.

Across town was the memorial park. I got my pictures of the memorial and the K-9 memorial. I left poker chips at each of these memorials.

The trip to Jonesboro was along roads that I travelled in previous years. I passed through Imboden. I had stopped for breakfast at Virgie’s Place. I had a pancake on my last visit, just one. It was huge, and thick. It was great and I was full for the day. Today, I kept rolling, but the memory gave my tummy a little smile.

I got to the memorial in Jonesboro. This was at the VFW next to the airport. The memorial was two tanks that were on display in front of the VFW. The winds were starting to pick up, I had to park the bike in gear so it wouldn’t start rolling. I got my picture and got it submitted.

Jonesboro, AR

The winds were a challenge on the ride to West Memphis. I got something (pollen probably) in my left eye. The eye started watering and it hurt if I opened it. All this while fighting some strong winds. I kept hoping for a rest stop where I could just go and rinse my eyes and wash my face. I managed to get to the memorial in West Memphis.

The winds had eased up a little since there were building around to help block the wind. The memorial was a static display of a fighter jet next to the VFW. The area was run down, though the area has been run down since I lived in Memphis 30 years ago. There was a “For Sale” in front of the building. The sign implied that the pool area was included. Since there was no pool outside, it must have been somewhere inside. I got a few pictures. Happy that someone is taking care of the jet, sad that the entire area has not been able to improve over the years.

West Memphis, AR

My ride through West Memphis to get back to Memphis was along Broadway Blvd. There were a few newer buildings, but the area was mostly run-down older buildings. Many appeared empty, some were for sale. The roads didn’t appear to have been maintained over the years.

The ride on the interstate crossing the Mississippi River wasn’t as stressful as I had expected. The bridge seemed to block some of the wind so the vehicles weren’t blown around. My trip around Memphis was a familiar trip. I have travelled that route many times over the years. I thought about riding through town, but was more interested in getting back home. I stayed on the interstate.

Why Memphis puts up speed limit signs is beyond me. I was doing well over the speed limit just trying to keep from getting run over. I got a glimpse of what was once the Mall of Memphis. It looked like it has been completely torn down. Aerial view shows that it looks like a truck center, though most of what had been the mall had become a grassy area.

I made the turn onto US-72, I knew I was on my way home. I stopped for gas in Walnut. I thought about getting the picture of the Huey there. My photo from a few years ago is the picture that is used in the app. I have a few other pictures in the apps.

I turned onto the Trace. I love riding the Trace, even for 15 miles. I set the cruise and just relax. I turn onto AL-20, thinking about stopping at mom’s, but know it wouldn’t be a good idea. I ride home via AL-20, Savannah Highway. My bride is standing at the door when I pull into the drive. It is good to be home!

Day 3 Route

I make sure that all my memorials were posted. The next morning, I see that I had earned a 2nd place trophy for Arkansas. Someone must have been close behind me since there was also listed a recipient of the 3rd place trophy.

2022 Tour of Honor – Sunday Sanity Ride

I got up and got ready for today’s ride. The GPS reset and erased all user data. I reloaded today’s route, put the GPS on the bike and it looked okay. As I started the bike for the ride, the GPS reset again.

I headed off since I knew about where I was going for the first site. I pulled over and put the locations in the BMW app on my phone, which connects to the bike. I followed the directions to the first site. Along the way, the GPS reset and erased all the user data again.

I got to the first site and was ready to take a picture. I checked the memorial and found that I was looking for a small memorial that was behind the large memorial on the other side of the traffic circle. Not a problem, I rode to the other side and park where I could get a picture of the bike and the memorial. As I was ready to submit, this site needs a second picture of the memorial up close. I got that picture and was ready to head out.

I put the second GPS coordinates in both the BMW app and the GPS. They were fairly close in directions. I knew that I wanted to ride the Clifton Turnpike, the GPS had that on the map, the BMW app did not. The BMW kept recalculating and wanting me to turn into the woods.

The Clifton Turnpike was a beautiful ride. The entire ride to the second site was great, except for the car that ran a stop sign off the interstate. That was a close call.

As I got close to the second site, the GPS wanted me to turn to ride through a field. The BMW app told me to turn onto a road about a quarter mile up the road. I found my way to the Veteran’s Park where the memorial was located.

I got the picture and put the coordinates for the next site in the GPS and the BMW app.

Shortly after leaving the second site, I passed through a small town in Weakly County. There were signs of recent storm damage. One house looked fine; the house next door was only rubble on the foundation. Trees had been uprooted, huge trees! They have been cut to allow access to the road and even a few houses.

The wind started to pick up and would toss me back and forth across the road. The cars behind me were probably upset that I wasn’t going faster. The road had some nice twisties, but the wind made them challenging at reduced speed.

By the time I got to the last memorial, I had to pay a lot of attention. The memorial was on a gravel road in an open field. The winds were coming from the south, the road was headed due west. A serious crosswind. I was lucky that the memorial was at the end, with a few trees to help buffer the wind. There is a Civil War memorial up the hill. The winds were so strong that the flags had caused the poles to bend! I got my picture and put the address for the Circle K.

I started heading south into the wind. I pulled over to gas up the exit off US-51. The girl was confused giving me change, then she couldn’t figure out how to get a receipt. As I went out, I spoke with another biker who had stopped to gas up and have a smoke. Since I was there for a few minutes, I paused the Rever tracker. Later, I realized that I forgot to turn it back on.

The ride back home was very pleasant, other than fighting the winds. For about three hours I fought the winds. It finally eased up about the time I crossed into Alabama.

Back home, sore from the work out with the wind. A lot of things to do tomorrow, but all can be done inside away from the expected rain.

2022 Tour of Honor – Alabama

April 2, 2022

I conduct ham radio testing on the first Saturday of each month. This takes up a few hours that particular morning. I can usually get everything done, back home, and paperwork submitted by noon.

I take a quick look to see who has earned the trophies for Alabama. Hmm, I only see one person having earned a trophy. They award first, second, and third to the person/groups which are among the first three to complete a state. I have dreamed of earning one, but it seems that it is always just out of my grasp. Maybe this year will be my year.

I already had a couple of possible routes. With the exception of one or two sites, the others could be visited in a straight line. One exception happens to be in a line from our house to the southern most sites. I talk it over with the bride and she agrees that I need to be rolling.

Just before 1pm, she opens the garage door and I head out on the Harley Pan America. My plan is to spend the night in Mobile, AL. The memorial in Mobile is only available between 8am and 5pm. It would be pushing to get there by 5pm today, and I would like to spend a little more time at the USS Alabama Memorial Park. Mobile is a straight shot down US43 from Muscle Shoals.

The one site that is not in a straight line with the others is in Linden. Linden happens to be on US43, a little past halfway to Mobile. I plan to avoid interstates until I get to Mobile, then I will hop on the interstate to get around to the other side of town.

The GPS is loaded with the route, but I just follow the path that I know. I almost forgot that I had intended to stop in Linden. I managed to make the turn at the last second. I open the Tour of Honor app on the phone and see the memorial. It is Saturday, there are no other cars around the Courthouse. I park in front of the memorial and was ready to get the picture.

I didn’t pay attention to how to use the app when it was available for testing before the year started. I panicked, then realized what I needed to do. Unlike the last few years, the app does not take the picture. I got to use the camera app on the phone to get the required picture. Then, in the app, I pick the picture from the folder that I want to use. One reason I like this is that I can quickly find my Tour of Honor pictures when I want to look at them later.

Picture taken, saved on the phone, uploaded into the app, and submitted. Rather easy.

The ride along US43 is very pleasant. As I near Mobile, I get on I-65 to I-10, and pull into the hotel shortly after 7:30pm. A familiar hotel where I have stayed on most of my visits. I walk over to the Mexican restaurant nearby. I take a table outside, ordered a large margarita and a salad.

I took a little time to review the route for tomorrow. Got it uploaded into the GPS and was ready for bed.

April 3

Sunday morning, I do my Bible reading to start the day. I send Tim a text to ask where would be a good place for us to meet for supper. I tell him that I am planning to stay at a hotel in Gadsden. He says he knows of a great bed and breakfast which will also have supper for me. He sends me his address and tells me that he and Pam expect me to stay with them. Not being one to turn down a free meal and a friendly home to sleep, I accept their offer. I give him the link to be able to track my progress. I tell him my estimated ETA based on my schedule, I will confirm the arrival time as I get closer.

The farthest south area in Alabama is on Dauphine Island. That is also where one of the Tour of Honor sites is located. The main road to get there is at one exit on the interstate from my hotel. I will follow that road from the interstate to the memorial, then back to the interstate to head to the USS Alabama Memorial Park, where my next stop will be.

Early Sunday morning, the roads are empty. I see a bridge up ahead, and the winds start to pick up. I don’t see much of a barrier on the side of the bridge. I have to stay calm. I don’t like heights. As I get closer, the bridge isn’t as high as I had thought, but the winds are still fun to fight.

I cross into Dauphine Island. I see a few boats ready to go fishing. People are starting to gather along a local pier to fish in the bay. A parking lot has a sign for a bike show. Police are ready for the crowds. I keep the speed at the limit and find the memorial at the Town Hall. I park in the handicap parking, a policeman is across the street.

I quickly get the picture and head out. The GPS had other ideas about the route, but I followed the main roads instead of going through the neighborhoods.

This was the first overnight trip on the Pan America. It handles differently than the BMW-GS, which is normal. All bikes handle differently. This weekend is my chance to get familiar with the Pan America. We have named the Pan America Dirt Glyde, the tag is DRTGLYD.

Part way back to Mobile, the bike needs gas. I miss the side street and pull onto what I think is another entrance. It happens to be the sidewalk. It was too late to avoid hitting the curb. The bike jumps up the curb, then back down the other side without a problem. I was impressed, the bike handled the rough terrain with ease. I gas up, talk with a few of the local people who want to talk about the bike.

Back on the road toward Mobile. I get to the interstate and follow it to the tunnel which leads to the USS Alabama. I pull into the entrance. Today is the boat show. I am there early, the crowds haven’t arrived yet. I pull over to the various memorials.

I find the Tour of Honor main memorial. Behind it is a 9-11 memorial. A short walk away is a Huey and a K-9 memorial. I decide to go into the museum. There is another Huey, Army-1, a Huey that was used to transport one of the Presidents in the past. I spent about an hour walking around looking through the museum. In hind-sight, I realized that I walked past another 9-11 memorial which I could have submitted. I get plenty of pictures, load into the app, and submit them.

Next stop is Andalusia. I ride through downtown Mobile to make my way to I-65. North on I-65 to Evergreen. From Evergreen, west to Andalusia. I came to Andalusia two years ago. As I neared the site, as I was riding through the neighborhoods, I realized that the GPS was going to send me through the park. I make a turn and get to the parking lot. This was the same memorial from two years ago. on that visit, the GPS had lead me through the park and onto the walking path. I got a better picture on the last visit since I parked the bike directly in front of the memorial.

It is shortly after noon when I leave Andalusia. I head out on the backroads toward Montgomery. I could have gotten back on I-65, but I enjoy the backroads much more. My next stop is Talladega. There are several memorials in Talladega. I haven’t checked to see exactly where I am headed, but I will trust the GPS.

While I am taking the picture at Talladega another bike pulls up. He is over at another side of the corner taking his pictures. I walk over to meet him. I hand him a poker chip and a business card. He tells me that he was told that he might see me if he heads to get a trophy in Alabama. I ask which way he is heading. He is heading to Gadsden for the night. Once he gets checked into his hotel, he will make the ride to Fort Payne to finish Alabama and try to get the third place trophy (by now, the first two places have had already been earned by others).

He shakes my hand, jumps on his bike and rides off. I decide that I would rather enjoy the ride than to rush to try and get to the last two sites before him. I expect he will be taking the faster, but longer route. I opt for the slower two-lane roads.

I send a quick text to Tim to let him know that I was in Talladega and that I would be stopping in Gadsden before heading to his house. I gave him a time estimate then started rolling

AL-77 has become a familiar route, almost like an old friend. I enjoy the meandering ride on the country roads. Traffic picks up as I get closer to Gadsden. In Gadsden, the GPS has me winding through neighborhoods and business areas. Being Sunday, there is no traffic near the county courthouse. I park near the memorial and get a few pictures. I walk and look over the memorial. This is the first time I have seen this site and it looks to be a newer memorial.

I mount the bike and take off to Tim and Pam’s house.

Pam is out doing some last minute grocery shopping when I pull into the driveway. I know I am at Tim’s when I see his Pan America and Pam’s Can-Am under the carport. And their dogs are ready to greet me.

A pleasant evening and catching up with old friends. Hard to beat.

April 4

As soon as my head hit the bed, I was out! I had turned the lights off in the room, you would know you were in the country. No sounds of sirens, loud music, or any traffic; no street lights or any sort of light pollution. It was dark and quiet. Add the big bed with all the feather comforters I felt like I was back at Mama Neill’s.

I woke this morning very refreshed. I made my way to the kitchen and Pam offered me coffee. She was going to use a K-cup of Starbucks, I asked her to not be offended but I had some K-cups of Black Rifle Coffee. She was fine, knowing about Black Rifle Coffee.

Tim heated biscuits and some sausage, it was very good. Over breakfast, we all talked about them doing a “carb cleaning.” They are trying to get rid of all the carbohydrates that they have so they won’t be tempted to break the Keto diet they are starting.

I got my patch for the HOG chapter Points of Interest (POI) ride for 2022. I still had one more site to visit to make seven, but that was planned for the ride home.

They started getting ready to work. Tim works from home full time, though he does have to visit sites from time to time. Pam works from home almost every other week, this is her week to work from home. Pam sets up in the bedroom, Tim has a dedicated office in another building. He has two computers set up, each with multiple monitors, and he has a big screen TV on one wall.

I got things loaded up and said my goodbyes. It was a very pleasant evening, great night’s sleep, and refreshing breakfast with coffee.

As I started to leave, my low fuel light came on. I knew that there was a gas station just a few blocks away, so I wasn’t concerned. I gassed up and was ready to roll!

The closest I came to interstate was when I rode under I-59 and I-65. The mix of roads were about 50/50 2-lane vs. 4-lane. Slow sweeping curves, a few twisties, but the views were wonderful. I sang for a while. The most apropos song was How Great Thou Art.

I pulled into Fort Payne and followed the directions to the location from the Tour of Honor for the last site I needed to visit. Based on the background in the picture, I had found the spot, but the memorial I was searching was not to be found. There were a few others, but not that one. Since this was in front of the courthouse, I asked a deputy was leaving. He didn’t recognize the picture. As we talked, another deputy came out and said that the memorial I was looking for was at the VFW. The deputy gave me directions.

I arrived at the VFW, but didn’t see the memorial. Since the VFW was at the fairgrounds, I walked around a bit. I found that the VFW was not at the location where I was sent, but a few blocks away at the other side of the fairgrounds. I found this by walking all over the fairgrounds. I got the bike and headed over to the VFW and the memorial.

As I was leaving, I thought I was leaving via an exit from the parking lot. It was too late when I realized that I was leaving via the sidewalk and over the curb. A nice little drop-off, but by me staying calm, the bike handled it without a problem.

I rode over to the memorial and got the picture I needed. I stayed there a few minutes while I sent a note with my submission. This confirmed to me that the state sponsor had not visited the site. I will send him a note offering to help in verify the sites for next year. I will promise that since I will have privileged information, I will not attempt a trophy.

The ride home was partially on familiar roads, but the whole ride was so peaceful. Only bit of traffic was coming through Cullman, and that was only a couple of blocks. Even Moulton was light on traffic.

I gassed up and pulled into the garage at 2:30. About an hour later than I had planned last night, but given that I left a few minutes later than expected and I walked looking for the memorial in Fort Payne, I think I made pretty good time.

It was a great ride, but I am glad to be home.

2022 Tour of Honor – Introduction

Recap of 2021

As I write this, it is almost the end of April. I also noticed that it has been almost a year since I got my rides posted.

Let’s start with last year. Boy, was it a true dumpster fire. Many of my rides last year were cancelled at the last minute. Why? Various reasons, but usually because “something didn’t feel right.”

I mentioned that last year Jeff and I were planning to do an Iron Butt Saddle Sore Tour of Honor Extreme. This particular ride combines an Iron Butt Saddle Sore (1,000 miles in 24 hours) with visiting all 7 sites in a particular state. We were going to complete Georgia. I couldn’t sleep the night before the ride. We cancelled the plans for that ride and took a few days to ride through parts of Georgia and Alabama.

Another part of the problem last year was that the previous year I was a little too selfish about riding. To the point that MaryJo was getting upset. We had a long chat over the off season. I wanted to keep her happy, so I limited my rides by checking with her first. If she had any hesitation, I would not go on the ride.

Then, let’s add the pièce de résistance. Shortly after picking up the new Harley-Davidson Pan America, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. That brought my riding to a screeching halt the first week of September. About two weeks after the diagnosis, I was in the hospital having surgery to cut out the area and take out a lymph node. At the post-op, the doctor told me that they feel they got it all. He did say that I could ride the Spyder, but no two-wheeled riding for a few months. His parting words were, “I want you to go live life, but remember… You have Cancer!” Seems that type of cancer I have does have a chance of coming back, even if the particular area has been “cleaned.”

I did get a few rides on the Spyder. I visited Jeff so we could visit the Georgia sites. Since he was the sponsor, I went with him to also scope out a few new sites. I also became the sponsor for Mississippi, so I made several more rides through Mississippi. Some on the bike before surgery, some in the truck after the surgery.

2022 Preparations

Being a state sponsor, I can register early. This year, like last year, people could reserve a number for the following year. I have had number 46 since 2019, I had 506 my first year in 2018. I have poker chip and business cards with number 46, so I hope to keep it for many years.

I got my submissions for Mississippi in a few days before the deadline. I had a brief panic when I got an e-mail about a month after the deadline reminding me that I need to submit the sites. I contacted the organizers and they confirmed that my sites had been submitted. I have to submit 10 sites, I can list the seven that I would like as the sites, but they wanted the additional three as back-ups. They picked six of the seven I had recommended and picked one of my three back-up sites. The site they did not pick was in downtown Jackson, MS. It isn’t the easiest area to navigate through, so I was okay with them not selecting that site. Besides, there has been a site in Jackson almost every other year.

In December, I had another surgery. This was for a nerve reposition. I had previously had the same surgery on the right elbow, this time it was for the left elbow. This was the same arm where I had the cancer surgery. At my follow-up six weeks later, the doctor said I could ride, but not to push it.

I took a ride to scout out a few sites in Mississippi for the coming years. I am trying to build a little database of potential sites. I’ll not mention the locations, but I think that people will enjoy them for the next few years. I am trying to avoid using locations which have been previously used, especially within the last couple of years.

First part of March, I had another follow-up regarding my elbow surgery and with my dermatologist. Both gave me a clean bill of health. The dermatologist found a little spot, which proven to not be a concern. The orthopedic doctor who did the elbow said I was ready to go, no restrictions from him. The only restrictions that anyone has given me that I must wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and a hat when I am outside. The helmet and riding suit meet those requirements.

Rain kept me inside most of March. As April 1 approached, I was ready.

I tried to take a name the afternoon of March 31. So much going through my head. I was up at 10:30, ready for the 2022 sites to be released at 11:01pm (Central Time). I had all the bonus sites already loaded into Basecamp. I just needed the primary sites to be released.

I watched the clock on the website. Once the countdown timer hit all zero’s, I waited a few seconds then went to the page with the sites and the GPX file with all the sites. I had already created a list in Basecamp for my Alabama ride. Once the GPX file was on the computer and loaded into Basecamp, I linked the Alabama sites in the folder. I was so excited and I started looking at the sites.

I could have gotten the trophy for Alabama. Really, I could have. But I was tired. I looked at the weather and it was going to be cold for the next few hours. I would rather get into a warm bed and give it a try later.

That gets you up to speed on things before the rides started. I will try to get the rides posted with pictures as quickly as I can after each ride (maybe I can get myself to post daily when on longer multi-day rides).

Ready for 2022

Unlike previous years, registration and prep for this year has been a bit easier. Unlike previous years where I had to wait until December 1 to sign up and get the next available number, I was able to reserve my number. Since I am the state sponsor for Mississippi, I was also able to register a few days early. I also signed up for the Ride To Meet in Boise, Idaho.

I wasn’t able to go to the Ride to Meet last year, even though I had registered and pre-paid. Seems that cancer surgery took a higher priority. Cancer also put a stop to a lot of my riding for a couple of months too. Of course, the start of the year also had me in a mental funk.

I am not sure why, but the least little thing would cause me to cancel a ride. The ride planned to start the year was to be a Saddle Sore with Jeff to visit the sites in Georgia. I wasn’t able to get to sleep. Jeff woke up at 2am and I was still awake. We thought about taking off, but I admitted that I wasn’t sure how far I would get. We decided to cancel the ride. Jeff said that once we decided to cancel the ride, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. I slept until 8am and felt great to ride.

Due to being off the bikes for a few months, I am wanting to take things a bit cautious. I hope that later this week (today is February 6th), I will be able to get out for a few days on the bike. I have a list of site for future stops in Mississippi and want to check them out with pictures.

Next month, I will be heading to Greer, SC for a training class. I have signed up for the BMW Two-Day Adventure (off-road) Riding School. I am excited! I saw an article in a recent BMWMOA magazine by someone who took the class last fall. I know that I will learn a lot, I hope that I can remember everything and put it into practice.

So, for now, I’ll leave you here.