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2003 Motorcycle Jubilee (Or: How I Found An Acre Of Gold Wings)


"Hey", Paco said, "Anyone want to go to the Motorcycle Jubilee in Springfield?" "Why, sure" I replied. That was the start of a relatively short trip from my home in Navarre to Springfield Mo. and back. We logged a bit over 1550 miles. It was to be a good weekend, despite rain showers, heat, and one crazed cop.

Paco shows at the Gas station in Navarre around 9:20AM on Thursday, we gas up and are on our way by 9:30AM Cutting through Mobile on highway 98 was our first real challenge. Following Paco, I find he is indeed, a Sandie, as he makes a U-turn to get back on the right road. Through Mobile, four lanes all the way for quite a while, then a lunch stop near Hattiesburg MS.. Found a nice little souvenir shop that served delicious ice cream. Paco tries the local flavors and I try the strawberry. Tough bikers can always try the strawberry ice cream because we are secure in our bikerhood. Looking around, I see a whole shelf of hot sauces. I pick up one for Skwirrel because she likes those hot things. It's called "XXX After Death". Later I find it lives up to its name. She still won't even look at that little bottle without having the local burn unit and fire dept. on standby.

On the road after lunch, we take a couple of back roads to skip Jackson and end up in Vicksburg. Coming through one little town in MS. we look up and see a local Law Enforcement Officer signaling us to pull over. He kindly informs Paco that the modulating headlight he is using is illegal in "his" jurisdiction. Paco, using his well-known powers of discretion, decides wisely to simply comply, turns off the modulator, says "yes sir", and we continue. Yes, we know it's legal in all states, yes we could have argued the point with the local Gendarme`. No, we did not feel like being introduced to the local Magistrate while he lectures us on the evils of arguing with "his" police officers. Deciding not to stop in Vicksburg, we push on towards Little Rock. Highway 65 through LA. and AR. is a pleasant enough drive, just not many twisties to play on. We get just south of Little Rock AR. and decide that is will be a good day's drive if we can make it through Little Rock before dark and stop just north of there. We pick Conway AR. to stop for the evening. Picking a motel, we ask for nonsmoking rooms, get two rooms, ask for 5AM wake up calls, walk in and I find ashtrays in mine, along with that smokers funk hanging in the air. While I switch rooms, Paco does chain maintenance, we clean up, and walk to a nearby restaurant. What can we say? The place we chose wasn't at the top of our "places to eat again" list.

A good nights rest always does wonders for a traveling soul. Refreshed, fed, bikes packed, and we are on our way again. One more time we show our Sandie heritage by immediately missing our intended turn. Finding an alternate route, we decide to take the twisty way north. It only lasts 30 or so miles, but it was fun to ride with plenty of hills and fair twisties on the way. Joining up with highway 65 we continue on and find rain, stopping for gas, another biker asks if we are going to the Jubilee. Yes, we are, I inform him. After exchanging pleasantries, we are on our way again. Rain, more rain and rain again. Finally, we arrive in Springfield. Rain is falling and we don't expect to see many bikes at the Fairgrounds. Looking for a place to stay, we find a motel directly across from the event. Reasonable prices, rooms are not too bad and it's only a short walk across the street to get to the Jubilee.

There it was-a whole acre of Gold Wings. Wings of all years, colors, configurations and accessories. My goodness, look at all the chrome! And look, all the passengers are dressed like all the drivers! Goodness me! Look at all the trikes! There is even a Harley Trike or two. And over there is the generous parking area for the handicapped. It's full! Of Gold Wings! With Handicapped parking stickers! Well, at least they are out riding.

Going into the Jubilee, I quickly find that they need to rename it the Gold Wing Jubilee instead of the Motorcycle Jubilee. Frankly, I was disappointed that there were not a large variety of bikes present. Mostly GW's, a few Valks and the occasional Harley tourer. Lots and lots of GW trikes. Paco finds that the dealers for the demo rides promised had canceled a week before the event. He registers his disappointment with the event managers, as do I. Next year they will be having the event in Nashville.

But, not to despair, the "main event" of the Jubilee is sure to be fun. It is the World Championships for Motorcycle Drill Teams. Saturday comes and we look forward to the elimination rounds of competition. Sitting in the bleachers we see several GW's go through the paces of competition for the single bikes. Some very good riders were out there. But to tell the truth, we have several riders in the Sandies that could have competed with just a bit of practice. They were impressive nonetheless. We watched as one rider completed his demo and wheelied out of the arena. On his 1500 Gold Wing. It was a double wheelie too. That was fun to see and I was impressed with the amount of control that they had over their bikes. However, we were informed that because of the weather, the team trials had been postponed 'till Sunday afternoon. Disappointed, we had already agreed to leave Sunday morning. We won't be able to attend the Championships, which were the main reason we came in the first place. Ah well, such is life. The best laid plans and all that.

One unexpected pleasure came from watching the Purple Peddlers Tricycle Drill Team from Ohio. They were doing all the moves that you would expect from a first class drill team. But they did them on pedal tricycles. And they were all ladies. The youngest one was 62. Now that's impressive.

Sunday dawns and we are up and ready to go. Heading South from Springfield, we hit Branson MO. and have breakfast. Several other bikers pull in and we chat. Branson is a favorite weekend destination for many bikers. We accidentally tour more of Branson than we intended, showing our Sandie colors again. Breakfast in Branson

Heading out, we take highway 65 again, for about 30 miles, then south via Highway 7 into Arkansas. Highway 7, if you didn't already know, is designated as a National Scenic Route. It also is one of the nicest twisty rides around. Lots of hairpins, sweepers and just plain fun turns. Even at the end of summer, there is little traffic that day, the occasional motor home and pickup truck is all. Getting near the top of the ride, we stop and take a couple of pictures while the rain holds off a bit longer. It's looking a lot like rain, again. Rain seemed to be the main theme of this trip. In fact most every trip I take seems to be filled with rain. Hmm, you don't suppose it's me do you?

Twisties are habitual. Even slow in the rain, they are fun. I was sorry to get to the flatlands again and drive those long, long straight-aways. Deciding to skip past Little Rock on back roads, we find another nice not-so-twisty-but-fun road. Paco and his BMW are cruising along at our customary 80-85, hitting the curves, straightening the hills, when we spy another bike ahead, it's a Harley with a guy driving and a gal on the back. I swear she looks back at us. But when Paco passes, the guy obviously didn't know we were there. He does the classic swerve and almost hits the ditch. Situational Awareness is a wonderful thing if you use it. Look in the mirrors folks; don't be surprised by the sudden appearance of any vehicle.

On we ride, the never-ending road has an end this evening though. It's located in Vicksburg. We check out a couple of motels, choose one, unpack, clean up, and off we go to a restaurant recommended by a local. It's a nice enough place, the food was OK, but the service lacked something. That something was called service. There was little or no attention to us by our waitress. Others were arriving, being served, eating the meal and leaving by the time we got the attention from our waitress and told her we were really there to eat, no kidding. She finally brought the food and we consumed it rapidly. Hungry wolves would not have had a chance at my seafood pasta.

Back to the motel, a good nights sleep, no wake-up call. That's twice we asked for wake up calls and not one ring for either of us. Good help must be hard to find.

Off we go down highway's 27 and 28 to skip past Jackson MS. again. Not that we don't like Jackson, we just didn't want to push through all that traffic coming or going. We make it all the way to Florida before we decide to part ways. Paco wants to get back home; I want to take a little more scenic route. Paco rides off down the Interstate, I head off down 98 through AL. Enjoying the final leg of my journey, I find, once again, RAIN! Not hard enough to dress for it though. But I sure get tired of riding in rain. Home beckons now and I hurry through Pensacola and am home in the early afternoon.

Skwirrel welcomes me home as only she can. Don't ask.

Lessons learned from this trip?

  1. Paco is a good companion for riding and finding roads. I enjoyed the entire time, rain or no.

  2. Just because a restaurant looks good and is recommended doesn't mean it's going to be good.

  3. Always check with multiple sources for events far from home to find out exactly what you are going to see when you arrive.

  4. Motels don't always wake you up when they say they will.

  5. Rain is inevitable. If you dress for rain, it won't. Rain will NOT spoil a trip. Just be prepared for it with a little planning and forethought.

  6. Wrong turns wont spoil a trip. Sometimes we find things that make the "wrong" turn the "right" turn. Heck, the worse that can happen with a wrong turn is that you may have to turn around. A little time is all it takes.

  7. Home always looks good when you return. There's no place like home. Say that three times while clicking your heels together and you will still have a long drive ahead of you.

Spectre Steve

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