Previous few weeks have been rain, tornados, rain, and more rain. Oh, did I say we had rain? Weather reporters are stating that so far in 2019, we have had over half of the average annual rain fall. And we haven’t gotten to the rainy season yet! Dams have most, if not all, the spillways open. Flooding is bad in some areas.
Finally, the weather was clear this morning. As my bride headed out for church, I mentioned that we might need a ride after church. She seemed excited, especially when I mentioned the lunch spot.
I rode the Can-Am to church. Didn’t seem like it would be worth the effort to get out the Harley to ride to church, then put it away and get out the Can-Am for our ride after church.
Before I get going too much, let me tell you about the plans. I have been working on a ride for the Harley chapter’s St. Patrick’s Day Ride. Restrictions were pretty simple:
- “Green” theme” or Irish theme (or both?)
- KSU (Kick Stands UP) at 10am
- Back to dealership by 2pm
These seemed pretty simple at first, but it had proven to be a bit of a challenge. After looking over various ideas of hitting an Irish Pub for a quick lunch, that idea was ruled out. They were either too far to fit within the riding times while allowing us a chance to eat, the destination already had a big event planned (it will be St’ Patrick’s Day after all), or there wasn’t an Irish Pub in the direction.
So, let’s work on a “green” theme. OK, no beer on a HOG ride, so don’t look for a place that is pushing green beer. I found a nice little place with “green” in the name, but it was too far. I finally decided to just see what I could do finding a nice route, about 150 miles for a 4 hr ride. Maybe I could find a place to eat along that route and find a reason it had a “green” theme.
Some people like twisties, some just like scenic rides, others like some highway speeds. I like to plan routes that have a little bit of each. This gives everyone on the ride a little something that they will enjoy. Luckily, there are some that don’t care about the roads, they just want to ride (that is me!).
I got a route started and say a little town that I have been through, but never stopped. It has a little historic jail and was claimed as the place where the “Free State of Winston” had originated. (That will be another story once I start a “History” section on this website.) There is also a place to eat that my bride has mentioned a few times from one of the books on Alabama food places.
After church, I follow my bride from the church to the house. We change clothes and hop on the Can-Am. I set the GPS to use the route that I had planned. But there was a problem with that idea, I am not at the dealership! This means that the GPS will “adjust” to the next stop. I had set a few “shaping points” along the route. I now know that if you vary from a given waypoint, the GPS will disregard all the shaping point to the next waypoint. This means that the route I had wanted to ride wasn’t going to be the route we took. Not a big problem, I’ll make notes since the GPD route may be just as good or even better.
We rode AL 157. We got to Moulton and the GPS had me turn onto AL33. Not a bad option, I have ridden parts of this road in the past, but I will see where it leads.
We are riding through Bankhead Forest. The views and smells tell that spring is on the way. We spot some wildlife, but most are ‘possums and armadillos that didn’t quite make it across the road. The squirrels are a bit faster, so there was only a couple of them.
The GPS warns that we should veer to the left onto CR63. As we approach, I slow to make a quick review of the road. Even on three wheels, I like to know if I am about to take off on a gravel or rough road, especially with my bride on the back. Road looks good, so we take the left. Really fun twisties, grades (up and down), and great views had been waiting for us.
My bride and I have bluetooth set up between our helmets. I comment that this might be worth changing my planned route to get to lunch for the chapter. She agrees. It was less than 5 minutes and CR63 comes to a “T” into US278. I need to make a left, then a right to continue on CR63. There is only a stop sign for people on CR63, with a speed limit of 55 on US278. And there is limited visibility onto US278. I don’t have a problem with just me, but trying to lead a group of other bikes through this intersection is not a good idea. We make the left onto US278, then the quick right back onto CR63. There is a big sign that gives advance notice of the place we are headed.
A mile and a half up the road, we enter Houston, AL. On the left is our lunch stop, Chef Troy’s “Talk of the Town.”
Parking lot is gravel, but a packed gravel which shouldn’t be a problem for a group of Harleys. We pull in, park, shed out helmets and jackets, then head in.
To my surprise, there isn’t many people in there. As we were pulling in, a lot of people were leaving. Looks like we got there at the end of the Sunday Lunch Crowd. We find a booth by the window and check out the daily specials. They have a few items left over from Mardi Gras (some cajun dishes).
We chat with the staff. When my bride asked the waitress about what she would recommend, she says “depends.” Our waitress goes on to explain that if you like a certain type of food, then such and such would be the best. My bride mentioned her desire for a soft shelled crab po-boy, but that she is torn between that and the shrimp and grits. Our waitress says to get the po-boy and a cup of the shrimp and grits. My bride likes that idea and makes that her order. I go simple with a Philly Steak omelet and a side of bacon.
We look around the place, my bride loves the various books on the shelf. She spots one that she had heard about, but had never found for sale. When our lunch comes, she asks our server about the book. It seems that Chef Troy likes to travel, and he picks up unique cookbooks when he travels. My bride just keeps talking about that book all through lunch.
We talk about the historic jail across the street, the route back, the book, and the route we took to get there while we enjoyed our lunch. I keep getting distracted by the “apricot-pineapple cobbler” on the daily specials.
Lest I forget, my bride comments that the po-boy is fantastic! The small serving of shrimp and grits was just enough of a sample to accent the po-boy, yet enticing her to come back for a full serving next time. At first view of my omelet, I thought I would be disappointed. The philly steak and cheese was just plopped on the top of the omelet. As I cut into the omelet, I realized that they just put the extra philly steak and cheese on top of the omelet. The inside was loaded! And the bacon was nice thick slices. They might be a bit on the salty side for some people, but I didn’t mind. And I kept eying the “apricot-pineapple cobbler”.
We agree to get ONE order of the cobbler and split it. I have been on a diet and am happy with the progress. We decide that today would be my “splurge” day.
My writing skills are not up to being able to put into words the taste of the cobbler. Slowly eating it, the taste of the dough was filling, but not enough to make you feel stuffed. The apricots were just ripe enough to have a tart taste, while the pineapple provided a sweet accent. We shared that, I quit before I wanted another order.
My bride went to pay the bill so she could talk with Chef Troy. I continue to look over route options, make notes, and try to listen into her conversation from across the room. When I hear schnitzel and warm potato salad, I have to go up front! Listening to Chef Troy talk about his experiences and about settling into the area is exciting to hear. My bride had already mentioned to him about the book he had on the shelf. Me mentions that he has an extra copy and offers to let her have it. He didn’t have to offer a second time. Even on a ride for lunch, she manages to come home with a new book.
My plan is to find the route I had wanted to take to Houston and ride the reverse route. This would give me an idea of whether to keep working with it or find another option. We had agreed that the route we took might be good for just a bike or two, but it wouldn’t be good for a group. I write down the route home and we head out to the bike.
Before heading out, we cross the road to visit the Houston Jail. It is the oldest log jail in Alabama. The plaque mentions about the construction and some of the features. Once the county seat moved from Houston to Double Springs, the jail went out of service in 1884 and it became a private residence until the 1960’s. It was donated to the county in 1975. I try out my new camera and get some pictures.
While at the jail, we meet a family that was eating lunch on the back of a couple of pickup trucks. My bride notices a sticker that refers to “geocaching.” We chat with them for a while, as we have been geocaching for a few years, though we have not been as active since moving to Alabama as we expected we would.
We head back over to the bike. As my bride hops on, she sits in the front for a second, checking out the handlebars and foot controls. I offer to let her drive it back home, but she declines since she doesn’t have her motorcycle endorsement yet.
The parking lot is empty since Chef Troy’s closed at 2pm. It almost seems like Houston has become a ghost town. Eerily quiet. No other traffic. One last review of my planned route home and off we go.
The route back to West Point was almost a nice as the route from Moulton through the Bankhead Forest to Houston. The roads are a bit wider, but just as solitary. Nice twisties, but not as sharp as on CR63. We cross parts of Smith Lake a few times, pass farmland, and finally get to AL157. No light, but with a wide area between the divided lanes, we only have to worry about one set of lanes at a time. Back on AL157, we opt to head north on AL33. We make a left just before reaching AL20 and go through Courtland.
We cross AL20 onto CR150 then our back way home. We pull back into the driveway about 4:30. Not a bad day. Any way with a “breeze on your knees” is a good day.