WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: WanderSouth 9 - Greenville, Alabama
Date: Sat, 09 Mar 2002 19:26:02 -0800

    Riding a BMW to a Harley event is like bringing a gun to a knife fight. They mostly just want to admire the metal without regard to the motivation. It is form over function, and if your knife doesn't cut the same way, then you are just not there.
    I was invisible in the crowd. Not the least because I was wearing brown leather. (If you have to ask ... leather! is, ahem, black.) Oh well, at least the culture among these trailer-wizened travelers is such that they really don't care how you got here - just that you ARE here. And although I am not strutting my individualism just like everyone else, there is nothing wrong with either view ... some live for the moment, some live for the movement. Me, I walked around all afternoon and never took my ear plugs out.
    Now don't get me wrong, there is some truly incredible eye candy parked on the street - both the two wheeled and the two legged kind. But that's just it - they are parked. It is a mile of them watching us watching them watch us. I mean, I left this kind of excitement behind in high school. And it wasn't really exciting then.
    Daytona is not a gathering, it is a show. It is 99% Harley and 1% riders. And no, the "1 percenters" were not there. They wouldn't fit in.

    Friday night I attended the Iron Butt "pizza party" (no pizza). About 200 of the truly weird of the motorcycle world got together in Palm Coast because ... because ... because they got together. That's the only reason these riders need to cross the continent - a veritable chunk of anti-matter in proximity to the no-matter-what of Daytona.
    All the "usual suspects" were there, and many were feted for achievements during or since the Iron Butt last year. I will mention only one observation. BMW Corporation has been putting "cutesy" sayings on t-shirts in their latest advertising campaign. Most of them are truly droll and aimed at the non-rider or casual rider to hype how cool/easy/fun the long ride is on a BMW. One rider at the party was wearing such a shirt. Would that BMW could see this. The rider was Bob Hall, who won the 2001 Iron Butt by riding to Prudhoe Bay and back. His shirt said: "What day is it and how did I get to Alaska?"

    There comes a time in every trip when you turn the key and realize ... hey, I'm headed home. For some it is a sadness because the trip is beginning to end. For some it is a joy because the end is another beginning. For me, I'm just happy to be moving again, but yes, I do miss the family. Even if they are not there to miss ... while I was hidden in the hinterlands, Rebecca managed to endure a business trip to Nashville and through a friend got a back stage pass to the Grand Ole Opry. She got to hang out with Jim and Jesse. Whereas I got indigestion in St. Augustine. Too much fried everything. It is indeed an education to travel.
    In South Georgia the land rises less than 100 feet above the Florida plain and quickly looses the swamp. Red clay is prominent and orchards abound. Peach trees are coming into bloom in row after row, all cleanly flat topped like someone flew a helicopter upside down across them. Peaches and even strawberries I expected. Cabbage I did not. I thought cruciferous vegetables needed a damper, cooler climate, but miles of happy green balls prove otherwise. (Laura would have said it looked like kale.)
    It can be fun trying to read Indian names and feel the cadence of what the language might have sounded like ... but down here in Georgia and Alabama, the Indians must have coughed a lot. I couldn't get through some of the river names without having to clear my throat: Withlacoochee River, Ochlockonee River, Cooleewahee Creek, Ichawaynochaway Creek, Choctawhatchee River. Jeez, some of those *signs* were longer than the bridge that crossed the creek!
    It is Saturday. I saw an entire family of six, including the parents, playing with kites in the field beside their house. The youngest, maybe four years old, was jumping and chasing a kite that would turn and chase him. Terror and joy interspersed. Just like riding a motorcycle.

    Moultrie. The town name reminded me of the maiden of Moulton I met on a previous wander. About four years ago I stopped in Moulton, Alabama, and met a sultry sexy siren who, if truth in advertising laws applied to people, should have had 'man trap' tattooed on her forehead. She really wanted to leave town. She'd take the first man who would 'treat her right'. I wonder how far she got. (I try to not repeat roads ... we'll never know.)
    But the people hereabouts are right friendly. Just outside Leary a pickup truck pulled onto the road in front of me. Three men were in the back. One had a black beret. As a side wind kicked up, the beret lifted off and sailed back toward me. It was a lucky catch, but an impressive snatch nonetheless. I stabbed at the air over my head and pulled down the beret. You could see the eyes of all three widen simultaneously. They pounded on the cab for the driver to stop and I pulled alongside. Their offers of gratitude probably could have made a night of it, but I had my eye on a storm front and wanted to move on. I'm sure their story will grow in the retelling.
    Many small towns like to claim some element of fame, and they often put that claim on the Welcome To WhereEverYouAre sign. Brundage, Alabama claims Home Of The P-Nut Butter Festival. Now I like going to various food festivals. There are some 300 such in California alone each year - you name it: Garlic, of course, Artichoke, Asparagus, Zucchini .... but Peanut Butter? Heck, why not. I stopped for gas and asked the clerk when the festival was held. What festival? You want to do whut? ... Maybe this is not such a big event after all. From the look on her face you'd think I just asked her to smear peanut butter all over - oh, never mind.

    While leisurely riding through some soft curves on rolling hills, I thought of Tom who told me at the Iron Butt party he thought of me on his ride to Florida. See, he did a 50CC to get there. 50 hours Coast to Coast. San Diego to Jacksonville. 2,370 miles ... except that he did it in 36 hours. My thoughts? Well, by the time this trip is over I will have spent more time than that writing these reports.

396 miles
St. Augustine FL16 US301 FL100 US41 GA133 GA37/AL10 CR6 AL10 Greenville
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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