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“Carpe Diem” Seize the day – The Lower Alabama Sandollar MC Grand Tour

Editorial Note: this article was first published in January 2006.

By Tim W.

Over a year ago I sat down with a wild idea and an Alabama map to lay out an all Alabama grand tour. Sounded like a great idea to me at the time. I was able to map out the grand tour letters and put together a pretty nice loop through lower Alabama. Unfortunately the best laid plans are always derailed by other higher commitments, so the route and map got filed under a ton of useless paperwork like mortgages, bills, life insurance policies, etc.

Last month the family and I were looking at a calendar and discovered that the planets were in some sort of cosmic alignment resulting in the convergence of elementary school days off, civil service holiday and scheduled days off, and suddenly we had the opportunity for a four day weekend September 2 through 5. Of course Sean, my eight year old, put his bid in for Wild Adventures Amusement park in Valdosta Georgia. Maricetta, the wife, put in her vote for Tampa and Busch Gardens. I put my vote in for four days of relaxing on the couch with the rest of the family gone to either Wild Adventures or Busch Gardens. Like I would ever get a vote. As the long weekend grew closer the bidding became more intense. Finally it appeared the eight year old with all the energy had worn down the queen and the bus driver, me. Wild Adventures was the destination.

Unfortunately we forget to include that bitch named Katrina in the voting. Like an unwelcome relative, Katrina visited the gulf coast and made a mess of everyone’s best-laid plans. Suddenly there were no hotel rooms in a 300-mile radius. Stories of gas shortages threatened any road trip to Georgia. We decided to stay close to home rather than risk problems on the road.

So Friday morning 2 September we went ahead and dropped Sean off at school. (Don’t tell anyone we were going to keep him out to make the four day weekend) Suddenly it’s 8:30 and we are without plans for the day. Then I remembered the long ago mapped out grand tour – Carpe Diem!

I said to Maricetta, “How about a nice motorcycle ride.” I grabbed the map and we headed out. Our first stop, Joe and Eddies of course. No self respecting Sandie is going to start a trip without breakfast at Joe and Eddies. The breakfast was great as usual, and bittersweet. They closed to begin their remodel just three days later.

Once fueled with food, we headed North into Alabama about 9:00. I did not exactly give Maricetta the details or projected distance of the “nice” motorcycle ride. Which ultimately broke a 350 mile day.

S-A-N-D-O-L-L-A-R M-C, eleven letters, no problem – got them all mapped out. Make a note, just because it’s on a map doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a town there, or a sign, or a city hall, or a fire department……….. you get the picture.

  • Stop number 1

    • Dixie, East of Brewton at the junction of Hwy 11 and 15. Note smile on pillion warmers face, it’s still early in the day.

  • Stop number 2

    • Carolina, South of Andalusia at the junction of Hwy 29, 15 & 31.

  • Stop 3

    • Andalusia, hwy 29. What a neat town. We are going to buzz up there some Friday evening and hit the old picture show and a restaurant.

  • Stop 4

    • Libertyville, South of Andalusia on hwy 55. Blink and you will miss it, like many of the small towns in Alabama. Yes, they really do have a City Hall.

  • Stop 5

    • Red Oak, North of Lockhart on Hwy 55.

  • Stop number 6

    • Onycha, South of Opp on Hwy 331. I’m not making up these names. They have both a City Hall and a fire Dept.

  • Stop 7

    • New Brockton, North of Enterprise on Hwy 84. Is that a great picture or what!!

  • Stop 8

    • Avon, East of Dothan on Hwy 84. We are far, far from the hood.

  • Stop 9

    • Was to be Lytle on Hwy 52. When you lay out this route Mapquest shows you three little towns in a row, within 20 miles of each other that work beautifully for the grand tour. Lytle – Marl – Samson. Unfortunately we could not find a single sign, building, church, outhouse or anything in Lytle. It does not exist in reality. Stop 9 was to be Lytle on September 2, but we had to go back to Lockhart, on the 4th to get a photo. Lesson for anyone else planning a grand tour – don’t pass up a letter, even if it’s not in your originally planned route.

  • Stop 10

    • Marl, just a mile from the nonexistent Lytle on Hwy 52. You can’t miss it. And yes, that sign IS the only thing there.

  • Stop 11

    • Sampson, Junction of Hwy 52 and 87.

As you can tell by the Sampson picture, the sun was setting and we had to head home. It had been a fabulous day of back roads and very little traffic, except passing through Enterprise and Dothan. Made it back home without a hitch. A great 350 mile day, only used a tank and a quarter of gas. Another Sandollar trip in the history books. What’s next? Where’s that Georgia map?

Ride safe, ride often.

Tim & Maricetta W.

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