After another ride was cancelled at the request of my bride, she was more than willing to let me take an extra day or two on my way to an umpire clinic in Georgia to visit a few sites. Only issue, what was the rain going to do. We had Alberto visiting us a few days before I had planned to leave, even the day before it wasn’t a sure thing that I was going on the bike.
I spent the time waiting on the rain to get the bike loaded, make sure I had the route all planned out, and all the locations saved on the two GPS units (the Garmin and the bike’s). It has become an art to get all my umpire gear loaded on the bike. I think if I had the older bike with the older tourpak, it would not have all fit. After my son’s wedding last year, I saw a hanging garment bag. This one was neat, it would roll up. Two models, one just rolled up, the other had a wheeled bag that the garment bag would wrap around. I got the wheeled bag version. I have used it on previous rides, but was still trying to fine tune how everything would fit. Only needed two sets of umpire clothes which would fit in the garment bag. Shin guards, caps, and a few other smaller items would fit in the wheeled bag then I would wrap the garment bag around it. Chest protector, plate shoes, field shoes, and mask (hockey style, so it is bigger), would all fit in the tourpak with the proper arrangement.
Personal items, change of clothes, notebook would go in one saddle bag. Rain gear, light jacket, and my Tour of Honor rally flag would go in the other side. Tour of Honor flag on top for quick access.
I usually don’t plan a route on the interstate, preferring back roads and the small towns along the way. This trip would require part of the day on the interstate since I had a long way to go and a limited time to get there. The plan was to visit AL-2 (Clanton), AL-5 (Montgomery), AL-4 (Evergreen), AL-3 (Enterprise), and a few Huey helicopters, then spend the night near Dothan. The next morning, I would visit a couple of sites in Georgia (GA-2 and GA-1, MAYBE visit GA-4 if time allowed), ending up in Warner Robins for the umpire clinic that started at 1:00pm.
I get an early morning start, about 7:30am. The plan is to get to Birmingham just as the morning traffic is easing up. This planned worked great. I was through Birmingham by shortly after 9:00am. I had enough fuel to make it to Clanton, so I would visit there and gas up. I pulled in to Clanton, circled the area to find the best photo op. Due to being a week day and the side parking lot also being repaved, getting a good photo would be a challenge. I fastened my rally flag to the bike, walked to get an angle of the memorial and the bike in one picture. Not a bad picture, but not as good as I would have hoped.
I got back on the interstate and headed to Montgomery. I was close enough that I should be able to get to the memorial before many people started going out for lunch. As I approached the area of the memorial, I knew this one was going to be a logistical challenge. Finding a parking spot close enough to the memorial might prove to take a bit of creativity. All three sides of the memorial were one way streets, and I was going the wrong way to get to any of them. I managed to park behind someone so I would be out of the street. I fastened the rally flag to the bike, walked across the street, got a couple of pictures, and rushed to get back on the road.
The street where the memorial is located is a few blocks from the interstate. I hop on the bike and rush to get moving. The skies are starting to darken, the radar shows a small but strong rain cloud just ahead. I was aiming to get past before it gets too bad or starts to grow. Luck is with me and I only get a few drops of rain as I turn onto I-65 heading to my next stop.
Thursday afternoon once kids are out of school means people are heading to the beach. I have missed the rain, but the traffic starts to build up. Speeds slow down a bit, but I should still be able to make Dothan if I don’t try to visit as many Hueys as I was planning. It is about 1:30pm when I get to Evergreen. I see the memorial from about a block away. There is a parking lot right next to it and I should be able to get a good picture.
I pull into the parking lot, position the bike to get a view of the bike and the memorial. I have the whole parking lot to myself. I open my saddle back and freeze. No rally flag! I check the other side. Nope, not there either. I know I didn’t put it in the tourpak since it would have required more time than I had in Montgomery, but I check anyway. I was rushing to get back on the road. Rushing! That was it. I left my flag attached to the bike and it must have come off.
After a few minutes of panic, I realize there is nothing I can do. Well, maybe I can just head on to Warner Robins tonight, get checked into the room, relax tonight and in the morning before heading to the umpire clinic. I check the route options. Fastest route from Evergreen to Warner Robins has me going BACK through Montgomery. Only a few blocks from the memorial. OK, I’ll go back.
I retrace my route to the memorial in Montgomery. I hope that it didn’t stay with me until I hit the interstate. If it did, who knows where it would be. I know I can replace the flag, and maybe get a temporary flag. It is just the embarrassment of the rookie mistake. I drive around a bit and no sign of my rally flag. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. Might as well head to Warner Robins.
I get into Warner Robins about 7:00pm after stopping in Auburn for a bite for supper. I relax in the pool, study for the umpire clinic, and send an e-mail to Tour of Honor.
Friday morning I get up and see that I have two e-mails from Tour of Honor. One being an invoice for a replacement rally flag, the other a PDF file for a temporary rally flag. I pay the invoice and head to OfficeDepot. They print out the rally flag and laminate it for me. I make another stop to pick up some clamps to hold the rally flag in place when I take pictures.
I check the map and head to Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base. This is an aircraft museum, multiple buildings and many aircraft outside for people to explore. The list shows that there are two Hueys here. Since each counts as a point, I can earn two points!
I go into the main building and talk with the gentlemen at the front desk. They give me some history of the museum, how big it is, and about some of the aircraft. I mention that I am looking for two Hueys in particular. We look over the map and they are in the building next door to the main building. I pick up my temporary rally “flag” from the bike and head into the building.
The first Huey is actually just the main cabin. Is it set for people to sit in and get a feel what it is like to be inside a Huey. I find a couple that is visiting the museum. They agree to take my picture at each of the Hueys.
Having already scouted out the place, I lead the couple to the second Huey. The husband is with the Georgia National Guard, temporarily stationed at Robins Air Force Base. The wife takes a few pictures of me with the Huey. I thank them and head back out to the bike. I know I will be in Warner Robins again this summer, so I will make plans to explore the museum in greater detail on another trip.
Clinic ends about noon on Sunday. I get changed out of my umpire clothes into riding clothes and pack up the bike. If I do this a few more times, I may get loading all my umpire gear onto the bike into a routine. A few of us grab a bite for lunch. I call my bride and mention that I may expand the ride home to visit a few memorials which will keep me from making it home that night. She suggests that I get home for supper. I head for the interstate and make a beeline home. I’ve still got several months to get in more rides.