Ridin' Around with John Boettcher

Ah, a four day Easter weekend and the possibility for warm weather. After riding all winter in the snow and cold I was really looking forward to a warm ride. I'm on the MGCL and have been corresponding with a few people and decided to meet a couple of them.

I left work early Wednesday afternoon and headed south on IL.RT47 to Champaign/Urbana. It was in the 60s with a strong headwind but sunny. By the time I got to Urbana, it dropped to the 50s and a little bit of drizzle. I stopped by a friend's house, Jennifer Stephens, who attends the university there to say hi and take advantage of changing into some warmer clothes. Since the weather was getting crummy I got on I57 and had a pretty uneventful ride to Missouri and I55 which brought me to Blythesville, AR. Stayed at a Days Inn which I saw a billboard for with a $34.95 rate.

Thursday morning I headed out south on AR RT77, to US70 west, then US79 south and stopped at Pam's Restaurant in Hughes, AR. I met a 72 year old gent who was intrigued with the rat T-3. He had a 75 Beemer and told some stories of bike trips back in the  70's. I ate my grits and headed back out on US79, to AR. RT1, then US165 to US65 into Louisiana. Nice roads, small towns and fair on traffic. The Mississippi Delta through Louisiana can get a bit flat and boring but the sun came out and it warmed up quite nicely. I hit US61 in Natchez, MS. Then down to Baton Rouge and to New Orleans. I went down to the French Quarter, cruised down Bourbon Street and parked for a little bit to walk around. It was around 5:30 and rush hour traffic was letting up so I took off to Slidell, LA. where again, the Days Inn was doing the $34.95 thing. I called up MGCL listee, Danny Rawinsky, and he and his wife, Judy, came over on their new EV. We talked for a bit and headed over to Copeland's of New Orleans for dinner. The crawfish ettoufe was great. We said our good byes and I headed back to the motel.

Friday was another warm sunny day. I left on US90 east and stopped at a cajun restaurant for a breakfast buffet. I never saw chicken livers as a breakfast option so of course I had to have some! Back on US90 through Gulfport and Biloxi. It's quite nice there now since the casinos opened. I remember going through there years ago and it was fairly run down back then. There's a tunnel as you go through Mobile, AL. that makes the exhaust sound pretty good. I picked up FL RT85 north into Alabama and hit AL RT54 east. Pleasant sweeping turns and rolling hills, air was smelling great. As I came around one turn and headed toward this bridge I was caught off guard. There was Jesus, in his robe, carrying a cross over the bridge! Then it dawned on me it was a Good Friday event and not a full blown hallucination! AL RT54 ends into AL RT52. I took that through Dothan, AL and into Georgia where it turns into GA RT64. I took that into Albany and checked into yet another $34.95 Days Inn. I unloaded the bike, got cleaned up a little and headed to Tallahassee via US19 and US319 south. I met up with another MGCL listee, Harold McLean, and he showed me his almost complete, restored Eldorado. You can check it out at http://www.users.talstar.com/halmc/guzzi_page.html if you have internet access. We went out for a ride and to grab some grub. Harold treated to buffalo wings and oysters. Good guy, he even offered to put me up for the night but I was already booked in Albany. I headed back to Albany after the sun set on GA RT93 and RT112. It was interesting to try new roads in the dark. At least it was clear and the moon was bright. It was still in the 70s, just beautiful out.

I left Saturday morning on US82 west. Then it was GA520 to Columbus where US431 comes in. US431 was good riding from Opelika, AL. to Huntsville and up into Lewisburg TN.. Small towns, farms and rolling hills. I took TN RT50 west to Columbia, TN and then RT 7 north. Very scenic road with tighter turns and steeper hills. In Clarksville I grabbed Alt US41 which turns back into US41 in Hopkinsville, KY. I took that up to Evansville and headed west on IN RT66. I met Dennis and Linda Happel, a couple out by Blairsville, IN. who contacted me after reading a letter I wrote that was published in Rider magazine. They wanted to talk to me about my 98 Alaska trip so I told them I would stop by on this trip. They too, are interested in motorcycling to Alaska now that they've covered most of the 48. They wanted me to stay the night but I already had a room booked in Olney, IL. I did stay for dinner, fresh deer steaks on the grill, baked potatoes and homemade salad dressing. We looked through some photos of their previous trips and it was time for me to head out. They hopped on their bike and lead me through some backroads over to the Illinois border. I said good bye to my new friends and ran it on up to Olney. I made it there dry but there was a storm on it's way.

Sunday morning as I left, the storm was just ending. I had about 20 miles of drizzle before it finally cleared.  I took IL RT130 up to Champaign/Urbana passing the oil wells and farm fields. Then it was RT47 pretty much the rest of the way home under sunny skies. I was back around 1:00 pm making it 2820 miles in 96 hours. Another fine job out of the T-3!

While I was unpacking the bike with the sun shining so nice, I knew I still didn't have enough! So I went out riding for the rest of the day. Put on another 200 miles, including a ride up to the Silver Moon Blues Oasis in Darien, WI. to grab a little live blues and talk motorcycles with owner/blues veteran Glenn Davis. He owns about 100 motorcycles of a variety of makes and models. I especially like his old BSA M20. It was a nice way to end the weekend.



Copyright 1999-2012, John Boettcher, all rights reserved
Contact John at:  ratguzzi@hotmail.com