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Reunion Tour - 2009

The following notes, ramblings and out right lies are about the Sandollar's motorcycle trip from the Florida panhandle to Tennessee and back via Virginia and a train ride down the east coast that started on June 18th 2009.

M2’s Reunion Thoughts:

I would like to point out before the accusations and recriminations begin that while George did indeed run a number of red lights and stop signs, he : A) was not alone, and 2) could not help himself. He apparently had a thing for the color red, some kind of 'red-rage', If he saw red he had to run it. I swear, once we spotted a pretty red cardinal sitting on a mailbox and George blew by him so fast that the poor little guy will have to hitchhike for the next 6 or 8 weeks while his flight feathers grow back. Oh, and I'm pretty sure we set a NEW WORLD RECORD for U-turns. The people from the Guinness Book called last night and are trying to verify the exact number. More later after I recover...

The Great Motorcycle Train Ride

The Trans-Alabama Trek

Six o’clock sharp. Side stands up and wheels rolling. Cool morning air with light wispy fog swirling like a cape around anything moving. Five miles further up the road the fog changes – gets some character. A dense, thick carpet of fog you can see the top of when you crest a hill. A blanket maybe 40 or 50 feet thick lying on the ground like a cloud come down to earth during the night and caught over-sleeping.

The Sand Dollar Motorcycle Club was making a grand motorcycle trip from our home in the Panhandle of Florida, up through Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina, then into northern Virginia near Washington D.C. where we were to put ourselves and our motorcycles aboard the AMTRAK Auto Train and ride that down to Orlando, Florida then one long day by motorcycle home to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. This is my version of those events. Actual events may vary.

This is the first vacation trip I’ve been on in years and I’m savoring every moment of it. I don’t have a CB radio on my bike like some of the others in our group so as we cruise at about 8 over the speed limit, I’m riding comfortably along in my Joe Rocket helmet and nobody knows what’s going on in there but me. And I ain’t telling. Not all of it, anyway.

We eat up miles quick and soon we hit the first fuel stop about 100 miles in, at a little Alabama town that hasn’t changed in forty years except for the model of the cars. We start tag-teaming the gas pumps, everyone topping off tanks whether they need it or not and we all greet Dave and Tina when they wheel up on the Big Yella GoldWing to join us for the next five days.

Soon we’re chewing up miles again and the soft rolling hills of central Alabama give way to the more pronounced and rocky foothills of the Smoky Mountains as we near the Tennessee state line. We passed, in the space of less than ten miles, some truly unusual sights: a 30 or 40 year-old double-wide trailer that needed a LOT of work, sitting right next to a brand new barn that was considerably bigger than the trailer. Personally, I would have put the horses in the trailer and lived in the barn. Next up was a tumble-down white frame farmhouse that must have been 60 or 70 hard years old with a late model freshly polished red Corvette convertible in the carport. Rural Alabama is a unique place.

We ride in a staggered formation, strung out like ants at a picnic and obey most of the traffic laws most of the time. We will hold this same formation (and attitude toward the law) with only minor variations for the next five days.

As we cross into Tennessee the hills and curves become more pronounced. The trees get bigger and there are more large hardwoods and fewer evergreens. Towering live oaks, hickory, maple, sycamore and pecan trees. Big, hardy, cold-weather tolerant trees that don’t care much for Florida climates and really don’t like the beach at all, thank you very much.

Our Ride Captain, George Engler, enjoys making light of those of us who expect to eat on a more or less regular schedule, but at this point it is two o’clock in the afternoon. It has been nine hours since I had breakfast and my stomach is growling like an angry yard dog. The place we had planned to eat was closed, so El Capitan locates an emergency backup restaurant that looks like its right out of a movie. (This is not a compliment).

The restaurant was an old, rough plank house that had been around for a very, very long time. Definitely dating to before treated lumber became popular. As we approach on foot after parking a dozen motorcycles in a gravel parking lot, I cast a wary eye on the five rough-hewn plank steps leading up to the front porch and recognize the tell-tale signs of serious termite infestation. These planks are not safe and all of us are hungry enough that we troop right up them as though they were made of reinforced concrete. We were seated in an outdoor lean-to room with no air-conditioning. There was one rusty old 20 inch box fan which was placed strategically by the owner’s son so that it kinda pointed in the general direction of the group, but actually blew directly only on Tina and Dave. Dave is a big guy and Tina is pretty. Didn’t take the man long to figure out where to point the fan, huh?

Chris Mitchell, John Wender and I got the table farthest away from the Dave & Tina fan (we sat down before the fan was aimed) and we just sat and tried to not sweat on our food. Most agreed that while the food portions were smallish, taste was excellent. This being Tennessee backwoods, there was some debate as to the origin of the meat, but I’m sure it was beef. Pretty sure, anyway.

We had been pushing hard all day and logged well over 450 miles. George kept talking about The Pool at our motel. He said it like that, with capital letters: The Pool. I’m going for a swim in the motel Pool. You know our motel has a Pool, right? I can’t wait to get in The Pool. Did I mention our motel has a Pool?

We all get to the motel and George announces that he’s going to change and head for The Pool. I didn’t bring any swim trunks but since everyone seems so determined to go for a swim, I did have some gym shorts that I had intended to use as lounge/sleep wear; those would do for a swim. Clothes have to multi-task when you’re traveling on a motorcycle. So I changed and went down to the pool. The only people in sight were: Tina, of Tina & Dave ‘fan club’ fame, a young man who maybe spoke 3 words in 20 minutes and his young, thin shapely girlfriend, plus an angry, scrawny, chain-smoking mountain woman in her late thirties who was really pissed at the young, thin shapely girlfriend. Near as I could tell, it was mostly because she was young, thin and shapely. Oh, and I believe she said the girl was ‘lippy’, and was “Liable to get her ass whupped if she git’s lippy again, bosses daughter or not”.

Another member of our group, Pam, arrived a few minutes later and then John came and sat down. The four of us talked about the fact that the pool water Tina and I were swimming in was not the usual clear blue associated with well-maintained swimming pools, but was a shade of green that seemed as though it might be very popular with frogs. I can personally testify that the water was not unhealthy since I got some in my left ear and carried it around in that ear for the next 5 days. It was impervious to swimmer’s ear drops, possibly due to all the sudden and speedy changes in altitude, and finally dislodged the day after I got home and back to my natural habitat at sea level. No harm done, apparently.

By the way, has anybody seen George? George didn’t show up at The Pool. No George. Where IS George? Did I mention that George never showed at The Pool? George missed out completely on the interesting green water.

On Dancing with Dragons and Snakes.

We started out bright and early the next morning, headed for the famed “Tail of the Dragon”. U.S. Highway 129 North from Tennessee through Deal’s Gap into North Carolina. One of the most famous motorcycling roads in North America. We rode it not once, but twice; south to north and north to south. To anyone who has never ridden this road, a word of caution, the road is amazingly curvy; in the short space of eleven miles there are three hundred and eighteen curves. Tortuous twisty curves crawling up mountainous slopes and down valley walls so steep and bendy that they demand your complete, absolute and undivided attention. To complicate matters, once underway you get very accustomed to the vertical rise of mountain rock on one side and the heavily wooded steep gully on the other with the trees growing together overhead - so close and tight it feels almost claustrophobic. Then the trees suddenly seem to fall away on the downhill side and you can see miles and miles of the most breath-takingly beautiful mountain scenery you can imagine. And if you spend more than a micro-second looking at that stunning view the Dragon will bite you hard. Because the next curve is sure to be a 180 degree hairpin, off-camber downhill blind turn. With a truck in the oncoming lane. And the road’s wet. With leaves scattered around. The Dragon never sleeps.

On this day, though, I danced with the Dragon with abandon and enthusiasm and glee and focus - all in roughly equal amounts. It was a beautiful day. By the end of the second run I was laughing out loud inside my helmet - delighted with the sheer joy of riding a motorcycle reasonably well through a gorgeous, yet extremely unforgiving setting.

Another set of roads that should be famous is U.S. Highways 421 and 133 in Shady Valley, Tennessee along with other, nearby surrounding and connecting roads known collectively as the Snake. There are three mountains that surround Shady Valley and someone has gone to the trouble to count the 489 curves within a 12 mile radius of the Crossroads Store. And if that isn’t enough to make any motorcycle rider start planning a trip, you can also ride through the World’s Shortest Tunnel. No, really. There has to be a shortest one somewhere, right? Well, now you know, it’s 8 miles from Shady Valley, TN, on U.S. Highway 133. If you ride a motorcycle, the Snake is well worth the trip.

Naturally, we all rode through the tunnel - all 12 or 15 feet of it- for a photo op. It penetrates a wall of solid rock well over fifty feet high that runs out-of-sight in both directions and the tunnel is the only way through. The one alternative is that someone has thoughtfully carved handholds in the cliff face so you can climb over. Well, the sign said they were ‘steps’ but it did point out that they were very steep and if you were to climb or unclimb them it would be at your own risk. Oh, and the sign said don’t even attempt it if you’re not in pretty darn good shape. They still looked like handholds to me….

The road to the tunnel was one of the nicest motorcycle roads I’ve ever ridden. It contained just the right combination of long sweeping bends and tight little twisty bits where that tail-light disappearing around the corner ahead of you may be your own. The trees grew together overhead in a canopy so dense that parts of the road were still wet at noon on a sunny summer day because the foliage was so thick the sun didn’t penetrate to the ground.

We probably got fewer pictures of this stretch of road than any of our other destinations simply because no one got off the bikes long enough to play tourist.

Monticello, National D-Day Memorial and the coolest 50s era motel I’ve ever seen.

The next day was supposed to be a restful day coming as it did after the first day of nearly 500 miles of hard riding and then day two on the Dragon. As mentioned previously, you do NOT relax when riding the Tail of the Dragon.

We stayed at a motel that had obviously been built in the late 1950’s or early 60’s, classic Americana stuff. While it has been extensively remodeled, it was still very retro cool. I remember from vacation travels when I was a kid that all the motels ‘back in the day’ had an old fashioned wall-mounted bottle opener installed with two screws on the door jamb just inside the bathroom door. Sure enough, there it was. Every room still had one. They had been painted over so many times that trying to remove one of them from the wall would probably bring the building down around you.

Chris Mitchell observed that a lot of porn movies were shot in places like this, back in the 70’s. Since I would soon be sleeping there on what may well have been a ‘vintage’ bed, I tried not to think about it too much.

Previous and protracted discussion of Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, eventually caused us to invoke The Burt Rule.

The ‘Burt Rule’ is a Sand Dollar Motorcycle Club tradition. The rule exists to help people remember what is truly important in life. If you’re ‘this close’ to some cool, grand, odd or unusual attraction, anything from The Lunch Box Museum to the Smithsonian Institute. Go see it. If you don’t, some day you’ll be sitting around the Old Folks Home and the subject of the Lunch Box Museum will come up and some wise-ass named ‘Burt’ will have been there and then proceed to regale everyone with interesting stories. This, of course will piss you off completely because you had your chance and blew it. The rule simply states that if you are within a reasonable distance of an attraction, you must go see it. Be Burt.

Monticello was magnificent. Thomas Jefferson is my favorite U.S. historical figure; Progressive thinker, engineer, architect, manager, statesman, writer of the original version of the constitution, President of the United States. Although he was one of the most impressive and important figures in U.S. history, he usually stated his occupation as ‘Farmer’. He once wrote ‘Farmer’ on the Federal Census as his profession and he was Vice-President of the United States at the time, so we know he had a neat and ironic sense of humor as well.

We arrived at the Visitor Center and Museum, which is well down the mountain from the main house and grounds of Monticello proper. Getting to the Museum we followed a rather circuitous route. Captain George spotted a tree covered drive with arrows painted on the ground pointing toward us to indicate that it was a one-way avenue. And the whole group proceeded to follow our intrepid leader the wrong way through several different levels of parking areas.

I looked behind me at Chris Mitchell and pointed down at the arrows painted on the ground and held my hands up in the universal gesture for “What the hell are we doing?” Chris gave me a shrug that clearly said, “What can we do? We’re following George.” We spiraled up the side of the mountain until we arrived at a nice, secluded, tree-shaded parking lot that was mostly empty. It was then that I noticed that a number of people wearing security uniforms had been watching us as we progressed through the various levels of parking, all the while going the wrong way. The one who stared longest and hardest gave a shrug identical to the one that Mitchell had given me, then turned and walked away while we got our bikes situated and removed our riding gear.

George then pointed out, quite rightfully when you think about it, that tourists drive in an aimless and oblivious manner around our home town in Florida on a pretty much year-round basis and we tolerate it. Some of those tourists are from Virginia. That creates a ‘tolerance imbalance’ therefore; they owed us - big time.

We paid our money and signed up for the 8:50 a.m. tour which would begin with a ride up the mountain in a small shuttle bus. We were cautioned to be on time for the bus as they tended to be prompt. After wandering around an amazing interactive museum for 45 minutes or so it was almost time to go meet the bus. There would be just enough time for me to hit the restroom quickly and still make the 8:50 bus.

I walked onto the platform AT 8:47 and a grumpy-looking guy standing there in a uniform said, “This bus will take you up the mountain.” And he pointed at a shuttle bus behind him that had only two people and a driver in it, none of whom were members of the Sand Dollar M/C.

I told the man that I needed to find my party first and I turned to go inside the doors of the museum to look for the others. The guy said, this time more grumpy and with some impatience, exactly the same sentence, “This bus will take you up the mountain.” I got all righteously indignant and said that I had no intention of being separated from my group.

That’s when he finally bothered to explain that, “This bus will take you up the mountain.” meant that the actual 8:50 bus had left at 8:45 with all my friends on it and this bus would take those of us who were late (for the bus that left early) up the mountain to catch-up with our parties. My mind reading skills obviously ain’t what they used to be.

We left Monticello in a bit of a rush since we all wanted to see the National D-day Memorial (Burt Rule) and we still had to make our train that afternoon. In the gift shop on our way out one of the female employees asked George if we were the people on “all them Harleys”. Rather than point out that due to the regrettable absence of our good friend Joe-Joe who was unable to make the trip at the last minute, there wasn’t a Harley in the bunch, George just gave her a tolerant smile and said, “Yes”.

That’s when we found out that not only had we gone the wrong way through several different parking lots, but we had brazenly taken up the prime tree-shaded portion of the main Employee ONLY Parking Lot closest to the stairs that lead up to the building. Yes, that’s right, that would be the lot where Supervisors and Managers parked. And we had missed the signs because the person in charge of sign placement had not anticipated a large group of motorcyclists would go the entire route up the mountain traveling the wrong way so that all we could see of the numerous ‘Employee Parking Only” signs was the backs of them. No wonder our progress was watched so closely by so many Security people. Apparently, word of the ‘Wrong Way Motorcycle Club’ had gotten around to all the employees and we were something of a curiosity. It’s nice when you can contribute to making someone’s day more interesting.

The National World War II D-day Memorial is beautiful, haunting and moving. The scale of sacrifice represented there is so enormous it’s hard to grasp. I will not make light of our time there by trying to be funny. I can only say that if you ever find yourself within visiting distance, remember the Burt Rule. Go. See this magnificent monument to a whole generation of Fallen Heros. They are the reason this is still a free country. You will remember it as long as you live.

The Great Train Ride

Ever since I was a small child, I have dreamed of riding a train. I don’t mean a three mile tourist trip on an old steam engine, which can certainly be fun, especially if there’s a western-style gunfight re-enactment involved. No, we’re talkin’ a train that’s sleek, modern and fast. A train where you get an upper or lower bed and stick just your head out through the curtains and look up and down the center aisle, like in the old movies. I had always heard that some of the best sleep in the world is that accompanied by the gentle rocking and rhythmic ‘clickety-clack’ of a train. The hauntingly beautiful and lonesome sound of the engine’s horn a quarter of a mile ahead blowing for a crossing was something I have always wanted to hear.

We watched them load our motorcycles onto the AMTRAK Auto-Train, the world’s longest passenger train. It’s more than three-quarters of a mile long and capable of carrying 650 people and 330 cars when loaded to full capacity. The Auto-Train really fit the picture I’ve had in the back of my mind since I was a kid; sleek as a rocket and shiny as a new dime. And fast; much of our 880 mile trip would be done at over 70 miles an hour. Two decks – an upper and lower floor on every car. Separate Dining and Lounge cars decorated with modern amenities and a little touch of old world flair. This train and the ensuing overnight ride from near Washington D.C. down to the Orlando, FL metro area was the real reason I had come along on this trip. This train was what set the hook when George called and said, “Hey, you want to go on a nice motorcycle trip?”

After the call for “all aboard” at around three in the afternoon, we went to stow our luggage and get settled. Okay, no one called ‘all aboard’. A guy named D.J. unlocked the door on the side of our car and as he let us in one-at-a-time he made sincere eye contact and introduced himself as our ‘Attendant’ and generally implied that his services would be worth a substantial gratuity at the end of the trip. And he warned us, “Do not pull down the top bunk.” D. J. was a middle-aged guy with great hair. It was perfect, not a strand out of place, styled precisely. It may have been one of the best, if not the best hairpieces I’ve ever seen. He also never missed an opportunity to make people guess his age so he could laugh heartily and tell them how wrong they were.

Each of the individuals and couples in our group had reserved a ‘Roomette’, consisting of a cute little compartment with two nice-sized and comfortable seats which were surprisingly wide and faced each other. Each seat had individual controls for reading lights, air conditioning and your choice of five different music channels, much like a big passenger airplane. Unlike a plane, there was a really large window which provided a breath-taking panoramic view of the world rushing by outside. Facing the center aisle there was a windowed wall with a sliding door, or you could just pull together the curtains instead of using the door. (Yes! I can stick just my head out the curtains and look up and down the aisle, like in the old movies). There was plenty of room to stand up or reposition oneself. Since I was traveling alone, my gear and luggage fit nicely in the opposing seat and everything was handy, comfortable and cozy.

The entire group gradually gathered in the Lounge car where many of us enjoyed an adult beverage or three. There was a ‘complimentary wine tasting’, which, I gathered, meant you keep getting your tiny little plastic wine glass refilled until the lady doing the pouring starts giving you funny looks. Then you actually pay for the Corona with lime that you’d rather have anyway. Now, three in the afternoon is a little early to be starting in on the adult beverages, and would almost certainly get you the hairy eyeball from your mom or co-workers, but we’re on a TRAIN! Besides, there’s not much else to do on a train, other than hang out with your friends and talk and play cards. And drink. Not unlike a Sunday afternoon at home, now that I think about it.

The toilets were a study in functional minimalism. They were just wide enough to stand (or sit) and there was zero wasted space. The sink, paper towels, trash disposal, mirror, electric socket, toilet and opposing walls were all within 25 inches of each other.

Later that evening we all prepared to turn in and I returned to my ‘Roomette’ to find that D.J. and his hairpiece had converted my comfy little cubicle into a bunk bed. I discovered the reason we had been asked to not pull down the top bunk was that in its lowered position it occupied all the available space in the Roomette. The two surprisingly wide and roomy seats had been modified into a short, surprisingly narrow bed. There was barely room to enter this little bunk vault and close the door. Once you closed the door you were completely committed to going to bed because the only way to get out was to climb up on the bed and turn around. I’m not a particularly large guy and at 5 feet 11 and 170 pounds it’s not like I require a great deal of room. I found it hard to believe that larger people function in these cells, and I was alone in a cell designed for two people! D.J. and his hairpiece had pointed out that he had to move my luggage and it was all on the top bunk. I will never understand how he managed to take a set of motorcycle saddle bags, one small over-night bag and my shaving kit and turn them into a jumbled mess that took 10 minutes to straighten out.

Once I extracted my shaving kit from the pile I took it and went down the stairway to the showers. I’ve seen more square footage in the broom closet of a travel-trailer. I stepped inside and closed the door and had to turn the water on and soap up so I could turn around. I didn’t spend much time in the shower. I also didn’t wash my feet. Couldn’t reach ‘em.

I returned to my cell and, with a sudden burst of energy and agility, climbed onto the top bunk. My gear was spread out on the bunk below and I just wanted to try and relax and finally experience that marvelous ‘train sleep’ I had always heard about and dreamed of. I lay there sweating from the exertion of climbing up (the next morning I would discover the neat little steps in the wall that would have made this a much easier task) and at that point I realized the roof was about 14 inches above my face.

The result of being within 14 inches of the top of a double-decker passenger train car is that you are a good 18 or 20 feet above the road bed and rails the train rides on. This makes for a nice view, but it also amplifies the motion of the car. The effect is like a thin antenna; the higher up you are, the more pronounced the motion. There would be periods of several minutes where you experienced the eerily wonderful sensation of floating 18 feet above the earth at 70 miles an hour, then, suddenly and without warning the train would go through a crossing and whip you back and forth almost violently for 2 to 4 seconds then instantly revert to that almost unnatural smoothness again. This was VERY disconcerting.

Somewhere around 2 in the morning as I was slammed awake for what I believe was the sixty-third crossing, I got up to go to the toilet. What had been a marvel of functional minimalism earlier today was now a serious impediment to being able to pee. Most middle-aged men will back me up on this; the secret to getting up and going to the bathroom during the night is that you try to never wake up completely. It’s done kind of on auto-pilot. Just as I had begun to take care of business, the train hit a series of crossings that had me bobbing and weaving like a drunken boxer. It was not pretty.

After flushing the toilet, which I swear was louder than a rock concert, I turned to open the door and the door was so unexpectedly close to my face it startled me and I recoiled to keep from breaking my nose, almost falling back against the wall above the toilet. My flailing elbows hit three of the four walls and somehow, I still don’t know how, my right shoulder got damp.

Just as I turned the knob desperate to get out, the train did another of those sudden maximum swerves that throw even wide awake people around and it tossed me out across the aisle and face-first up against the wall on the other side. Down the aisle a woman in an upper bunk stuck just her head out of the curtains and looked up and down the aisle. I glared at her until she decided to mind her own business, then I went and crawled into the lower bunk and curled up with my saddlebags and shaving kit to wait out the night.

Next morning I got up and dressed early, squared away my gear and went to the dining car for breakfast. All my companions soon showed up and almost all of us agreed; Train Sleep is way-the-hell overrated. Two late-arriving members of our group said that they had slept like babies – claimed it was The Best Sleep of their Entire Lives. I knew then that these two people, a small minority of our party, would soon be going forth and poisoning impressionable young minds with this falsehood.

I looked forward to getting off the train. By that time Wanda, Gerry and I had decided to head for home rather than spend the night in Orlando. We had boarded in Northern Virginia on a pretty, sunny summer afternoon with a temperature around 80 degrees, comfortable humidity and a nice cooling breeze. We stepped off the train into a sauna. Orlando, Florida at 9 in the morning was already well over 90 degrees and suffocatingly humid. Central Florida was in the middle of a record breaking heat-wave. Forecasts called for temps over a hundred for each of the next three days.

After waiting for the motorcycle carriers to be rolled off the train and the bikes unloaded, we mounted up and went directly to a gas station, then Wanda, Gerry and I waved goodbye to the others who were staying overnight in Orlando with mutual friends, and we headed for home.

The three of us got separated due to a mix-up in directions. When Wanda and I pulled over to consult a map, Gerry went flying by in the opposite direction, looking for us. We never saw him again on this trip, which was a shame. He and I had been sharing motel rooms on this trip; he’s a great roomie, a good motorcycle rider and seasoned traveler. I had been looking forward to riding home with him and my friend of many years, Honda Wanda.

So Wanda and I wandered around by ourselves just long enough to establish that we were indeed, completely, um, ‘Temporarily Misplaced’. (Men are never lost. If it’s on a road and we drive long enough, sooner or later we’ll drive by it.) Wanda, on the other hand, firmly suggested I dig my GPS out of the tank bag, turn it on and begin the process of getting us back to a main artery road that pointed more or less in the direction of Northwest Florida.

For the next forty-five minutes, the GPS guided us through some of the prettiest curves and around the most beautiful small lakes I have ever seen, right in the heart of Central Florida horse country. During the entire time the view in every direction was strikingly attractive and memorable. I’ve never been so pleased to be temporarily misplaced. Plus I had discovered George’s Ride Captain Secret; go get los…uh, temporarily misplaced on purpose, then let the GPS find the way back to wherever you need to be. Seriously cool, scenic, low-traffic secondary back roads on demand. All this time, I had always thought he was bending forward to get a closer look in his rear-view mirrors to make sure all his ducklings were lined up behind him where we were supposed to be. He’s actually been secretly looking at the GPS screen all along!

Almost too soon, Wanda and I found Interstate 75 and turned north at 80 miles an hour. Wanda is a good traveler and an excellent rider and bike buddy. We stopped for fuel, snacks and to drink another liter of fluids at roughly 100 mile intervals for the next six hours. When we went through Tallahassee, Florida on Interstate 10 it was one hundred and seven degrees. In the shade. Heat index was 115. I sometimes wish I had never heard of a ‘heat index’, I really don’t even want to know when it’s that hot.

I got home, threw my gear in a corner to be sorted later, had a long, cool shower and a Corona or three and was reclining in the air-conditioning thinking back on what an amazing and wonderful trip it had been. Ten interesting and entertaining friends, four very full days traveling over 1750 miles by motorcycle, plus 880 more miles by train, and lots of excellent ‘Burt Stories’.

How on earth will we ever top that? All I know is that I really look forward to the next time George calls and says, “Hey, you want to go on a nice motorcycle trip?”

M2 The Wizerd of OD

The Ride that didn't happen, and the one that did

As everyone knows, Mary Ann and I weren't able to go on the Reunion Tour. We were both very disappointed but we decided to make the most of it. We found out that Animal had a couple days off, so we asked him if he wanted to get out of town for the night. Which, he was more that willing to do. So on Thursday, as everyone else was heading to TN, we decide we would head out to Apalachicola. None of us had ever been, so we set out with temperatures in the upper 90's, damn near pushing 100. Doing things the Sandie way, we headed out on Hwy 20, taking the long way, avoiding Destin and Panama City Beach. We finally dropped down onto Hwy 98 just before Tyndall AFB. For it being so hot, it was a great ride. Riding along 98 from Tyndall down through Mexico Beach and Port St Joe was really nice. There was hardly any traffic. Once past Port St Joe, the temperature started to cool off some. When we got into Apalachicola, we past our hotel, so we did the obligatory u-turn (didn't want to disappoint George). Once we checked into our hotel room, and cooled off for a bit, we went out in search of food. We discovered that there aren't too many places to eat there. We ended up at the Marina and had dinner at a nice restaurant called Papa Joe's. Had to wait a bit for a table, but was well worth it. The food was fantastic. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit then hit the sack. The next morning, woke up refreshed and ready for breakfast. They actually had a hot breakfast bar, so that was the perfect start. After we ate, we rode out to St George’s (completely different George) Island. We decided to check out the lighthouse that had just been restored. When we got there, they were filming a short segment that was being sent to PBS. They are trying to get PBS to do a show on the history of the lighthouse. The climb to the top of the lighthouse isn't bad, until you have to climb a ladder through a small opening to get to the light. Talk about your tight squeezes. After the lighthouse, enjoyed a ride to both ends of the island. Then we started heading back home, with a stop at Cape San Blas to see the lighthouse there. Did I mention that the temperature didn't waste any time getting to 100? When we got to the lighthouse, after a u-turn, we decided against going to the top. I don't know, something about climbing a narrow spiral staircase in a metal tube on a hot summer day. Back on the road again, we stopped at Toucan's in Mexico Beach for lunch. After a very nice lunch, we were back on the road home. We may not have gotten to go on the trip that Mary Ann and I have been looking forward to for months, but we made the most of the situation and had a great time, and we managed to log 364 miles. Backhoe

Adventures of Smoky Bob

Read Bob's story by clicking here [It requires Adobe Acrobat reader]

John W. made up a newsletter style story of his trip

Read John's stuff by clicking here [It requires Adobe Acrobat reader]

David’s Journey, Readers Digest Version

It was a misty morning on the 18th. Cool in some spots, warmer in others. Ride to Luverne was long but pleasant. Waited for the group to arrive and off we went. To Mentone to eat at a favorite spot. Well the economy hits little businesses first. Yes, it was closed, but found another one. I'm not going to write a long letter. I'll just say this. If you missed this trip, you missed one of the best.

Best people to ride with, best roads (my favorite was moonlight road*), and more fun than I've had in long time. 1800 miles of pure pleasure. D&T David (DeMille) & Tina *Editors Note Its Moon Light Lake Road

Jerry’s Re-Journey

Thursday, 18 June 2009 started off like most Reunion Rides, O’Dark-thirty at Joe and Eddies with everybody eager despite a number of last minute problems. Thankfully, all but two were solved. Backhoe and Mary Ann as well as JoeJoe had to cancel, to the disappointment of everyone present. The weather was great--cool and dry most of the day with nice curvies to Luverne where we met Dave and Tina and fueled up. All the rest of the day went smoothly with only one anxious minute when Sam's steed had a "hiccup" which was quickly corrected. We had an excellent meal at a small authentic log cabin restaurant that start out as a trading post in the early 1800's. I goofed up, ordered the wrong menu item, and ended up with a bologna sandwich, 1/2 inch thick and 1/2 inch hanging outside of the large sourdough bread and tasting better than I could believe bologna would ever be. I guess it's true that even "a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while". We made a meandering tour all over the top of Lookout Mt. and fought our way through Chattanooga up to Cleveland, TN to a nice motel about 436 miles form Joe and Eddies. Next morning, on the road at 0700 for a real nice ride along the TN/NC border for a jaunt over to Deals Gap for the Dragon Tail" in both directions (636 curves in 22 miles) with a small rest and "photo op" in the middle. You would think that a rider that could do that, could handle a 120-degree turn in a parking lot wouldn't you? As you know: "What happens on the road, stays on the road', so I won't give any name, but if you happen to have a right hand mirror for a Honda 1300ST, I know who's in the market for one.

After that, a very interesting ride on the "Foothills Parkway" (a prototype of the Blue Ridge Parkway) we proceeded over to Shady Valley for a short ride on part of the "Snake" to the world’s shortest tunnel. After getting rooms and showers, it was a short walk to a very enjoyable supper at the Lone Star Steak House. For dessert, we were invited for a sunset cruise on Sam's brother’s houseboat. The cruise was not as exciting as the trip to the lake (11 riders in a 6 seat van), but was a perfect ending to a hot day on the road for 326 miles.

Next day, my plan was to run up I-81 to I-66 to visit a buddy that had enjoyed a year long vacation flying with me in beautiful (really!), exotic (and how) Laos. As I was cruising along I-81 serenely, I noticed a savage horde rapidly approaching from the rear. Was it Mongols? Tatars? No! Eight Sand Dollars in full flight north bound. Since they seemed intent on making time to Roanoke. I said to myself "what could be better than an octet of heavyweight fuzz-busters running my from door"? After my protection left, at a fuel stop I ran into 3 bikers about my age and figured to maybe impress them with my distance riding until I found out that they were enroute to Canada from Atlanta. My next contact was a young couple with 2 Hondas rigged out for camping. When they said that they were heading to Nova Scotia, I didn't ask where they started from; I simply excused myself and stayed in the rest room until they were long gone. Having been humbled, I finished off my 403-mile day in Vienna, VA with friends. Next morning, I rode 22 miles in D.C. traffic to the train station to await loading. Saw the Washington Monument on the way, and frankly don't think it looks anything like George. If it does look like George, I have a great amount of respect for Martha. The loading of the train, in fact the entire operation of the auto train was nothing short of amazing in their planning and coordination. Great service, great food, great extras (wine, cheeses, fruit, coffee, newspapers, movies, etc.), reasonable price---what more can you ask for?

Arriving in Sanford, FL, we were greeted by brilliant sunshine and temperature in the 90's. After the bikes were unloaded and bags tied on, three of us(M2, Peebles and myself) opted to press on for home that day instead of accepting the generous offer of quarters from John (Sam's Brother).

We followed the group about 20 miles until we caught a real long red light on US 441. After this, we lost our guide and ended up losing each other. As I blundered along Northbound looking for Hwy 44 West, I reached a place called Eustis. Big mistake! That place should be called Useless. In 96 degree heat, I followed signs saying "US 441 to West US 44" 3 or 4 miles east, then 3 or 4 miles north and 3 or 4 miles west and finally 3 or 4 miles south to where I pulled over a local Cop who didn't know where it was either. He said, "If you turn here, it curves right and when you see a red light, turn left and follow that road and you'll get to Crystal River. I did that and finally reached Perry with 2 miles of fuel in my tank. Here's where the worst part of the entire trip started. After Eustis and 130 miles of US 98 in the sun and 95 degree heat I had a quart of lemonade and 1 liter of water. By Hosford, 98 degrees and 1 qt of OJ and 1 liter water, by Blountstown, 1/2 liter of water and 101-degree heat. By Bruce, it's up to 103 degrees when I stopped for another liter of water. I was so dried out; I didn't get the kickstand down all the way and had to pick the bike up. Ended up with a 418 mile day, but the last 200 miles was the hardest part of the trip. Still, overall, the trip was a 10 plus. Would I do it again? In a New York minute! Jerry

Reunion Road Trip or How learned To Love listening to The Mitchell Whine

Every Sign pointed to a Road trip from Hell and all experienced Roadies should never buck the signs. We learn that rule from hard experience. First I get home 5 pm Wednesday, still need to finish packing. Take the Cover off my Ride and happen to look down on the floor under Sams Ride, what! Oil seeping onto the floor from Sam's bike. To use a phrase from Ralphie in the Christmas Story, "Oh Fudge", wipe it off, another drop, now what? Called Terry at "Racetrack Powersports", maybe it would just leak a little. He said bring it over. At this point I had pretty much decided, Fudge, I'm canceling, it had been one obstacle to climb over after another. Normally Road Trips require some work, but this one was turning into the Mother of all Road Trips. Such as, we had Reservations cancelled at the last minute when things got overbooked. That led to a scramble for another Hotel, thanks to Mary Ann we climbed over that one. The route was proving to be a pain in the Butt, couldn't get routes to play nice. Thanks to technology it all worked out but it took hours and hours sometimes getting up at 2 am with a new idea, let me tell you Sam liked those mornings. Then again on that same leaking oil Wednesday, Mary Ann called to inform me that Cris had been ordered to keep himself on stand-by for the weekend. I won't do the details I'll leave it up to Cris to handle that, he did the stand-up thing and now was paying the price. That had already put a damper on stuff. You see a pattern, warning from the Road Gods? Or just stuff. I've been riding long enough to lean way over on the Gods side. Back to Sams ride, got it to Terry, oil now really coming out; no way would it have made the trip. Terry and Jason had cleared a lift, put the Bike straight on. Called Sam and told her about the latest complications, she left the final Go, No Go, to me. Terry had discovered an oil filter gasket failure, but it's a pain to fix on a V-Star Classic 05 model. Credit to both Terry and Jason, it was fixed quickly, but I was really behind the power curve now.

Stayed up late to finish packing, 4:30 am comes really early when you go to bed at 11 pm. getting ready in the AM, the phone rings, Now what? it's JoeJoe, Harley won't start, dead, battery fully charged; JoeJoe was getting ready to pull the plug. I told him to try some other stuff, but my doubts were really at the surface now. JoeJoe called back, no go, he was out. Now my alarm bells were really ringing now. In all my 25+ years of leading Road Trips nothing like this had ever happened before. It was if their had been a cosmic convergence of signs telling me not do this stupid. But I figured I owed it to everyone that I should at least tell everyone in person that I'm backing out of the Trip. Got down to Joe's and Wanda a.k.a. Pebbles, (another story), was ready and rar'n to go. I told her that I was backing out; she was up-set, understood, but still up-set. she said that with all that happened, all the bad Ju-Ju was sucked off the Trip, weird but still...... I knew Sam wanted to go, PK, M2, Jerry G, Dave & Tina, John W and Bob L all were really counting on going. I decided to go provisionally, if anything else happened I was really going home. The Mitch had the route, all accommodations were set-up etc; it could be done without me. So it’s off on a new Sandie adventure, meet Dave and Tina in Luverne.

Temperatures are right, pretty early summer morning in the Deep South. The air had an indolent feel to it, you know, lazy but still perky a little. Left Luverne heading up 331, when over the radio, "Sams bike just stopped" then nothing, Oh Fudge now what, u-turn on a busy 2 lane and head back. by the time I got there Sam's bike was running. Seems it just died, I got ready to pull the pin on this Adventure, when my wonderful wife revealed that her rear-view mirror had come loose. In trying to push it back, her jacket sleeve hit the kill switch. M2 quietly pointed it out to her as the rest of the Sandies got ready to disassemble the Bike on the side of the highway. Okay, its onward on this really messed up so far Road Trip. But one more and, well you know. Made it to Mentone Al, terrific ride getting there from Gadsden Al. It really picked my spirits up, maybe, just maybe. Then we found out the super bakery and sandwich shop was now a Real Estate, a closed Real Estate office, but. Went back up the street saw an old log cabin set-up as an Restaurant, what the heck, give it a try. Good folks who were running it really tried to make us comfortable, food was pretty good. Not alot of whining, well maybe The Mitch, but he is a professional; it's a job requirement for him. Back on the Road, had our typical Chattanooga highway frazzle, oh yea it was hot; God was it hot on that highway. All I wanted was a hotel room with a working A/C a really well working A/C. Got to the hotel and yes our room had one cold pumping A/C unit. Maybe this trip will work out. Other folks can tell you about, The Dragon, Snake etc. The next day while looking for a lunch spot, I had been having to listen to the plaintive "I'm hungry" from The Duk, the Big Mitch, and some M2. You know around any food time, lunch etc, Sandies begin to resemble little birds in a nest all yelling for food. You would think they were starving to death, having ridden for days without food. Do you really wonder why I have gray hair? I spotted a sign "Baked Ziti" I turned into a gas station /convenience store with a little Italian Restaurant on one end and a Queznos on the other. I could already hear the Mitch muttering, for someone that wants to eat a lot, he can sure be picky. Oh well being Road Captain means having the kids up-set at you sometimes, comes with the job. The Italian Restaurant turned out to be this incredible little Mom & Pop restaurant. The owner met us, explained the choices. I spotted Osseo Boca or pork shanks in sauce on the menu, at a very reasonable price. Now I asked myself, why in gods name is a restaurant attached to a gas station, in middle Tennessee on a 2-lane road serving Osseo Boca? This is not a difficult dish to make, but you usually see it in up-scale Italian restaurants, not in a gas station attached Pizza joint. What the heck I'll try it, God it was good, hell, and fellow Sandies it was incredible. Some of the best I ever had. It came with homemade garlic bread; salad was made fresh to order. Everyone said the same things about their food, "fantastic, awesome, God this is to die for". Again the luck of The Road Captain had held. You know being Road Captain is a lot of fun as long as everyone understands that you can't hit a home run every time and goes with the flow. The Big Mitch found out later what it's like to try and find a restaurant in a place you've never been to and hope it appeals to most Roadies traveling with you. We did 2 u-turns in the same spot, a Sandie first, looking for a restaurant in Bedford Va. Found an okay BBQ joint in Bedford, kinda strange place, but it was all homemade food, pretty good. All I'm saying is that the attitude of the people on the Road Trip make or break a Trip. My other real Road Captain moment was when the Burt Rule was invoked, because of the flexibility of this Crew; we changed plans and went somewhere else on this Trip, The D-Day Memorial and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home all because of the Burt Rule. Admittedly I added Monticello at the last minute.

We got into Charlottesville VA hot and tired. Our motel was a 70's Motel with some up-grades; it was pure retro down to the bottle opener in the bathroom. Pam and Wanda had to do the room shuffle, did they complain, not that I could hear. Besides the sheets were clean, the TV worked and best of all the A/C pumped very cold air. Besides The Big Mitch's contention that 70's porn movies had to have been made there, set me to wondering what was someone as young as Mitch watching hokey 70's porn anyway?

That night at dinner I asked if anyone wanted to sleep late and we would pick them up as we came back through Charlottesville. Everyone voted to get up early again and head for Monticello. The Museum there was incredible; it had the most thought provoking Multimedia display I have ever seen. I am glad I was privileged enough to share this Road Experience with these great Sandies My frame of mind Thursday morning was one of I need to stay home. But the attitude of everyone on this most incredible Road trip certainly changed my own attitude. When things were a little miserable, not going quite right, these folks came through, yes, even Big Mitch pulled through when it counted. We laughed until our sides hurt, we shared riding in heavy traffic in the heat, restaurants that were well, different, not bad just different. Older Motels that were again well different clean, cold but still older Motels. Everyone crammed into a van so tight that the van bottomed out on every small bump and Wanda's well, gas issue, we still had a ball.

On the train it was the fun of watching good friends sharing the experience, playing cards, watching Big Mitch make up the rules and PK still smoking him.

Sitting on a porch with my fellow Sandies, on a hot lazy June afternoon and being transported back to June 20th 1865 in Appomattox Courthouse Village Virginia, by the tales of a young Confederate soldier.

I'm glad now that I listened to my heart and not my head and pulled out onto Eglin Parkway that early warm June morning, turning the handle bars North and riding into one of the best adventures of my life. My thanks to all of you, to Johnny and Becky Martin for their great hospitality on a brutally hot June afternoon in central Florida. To Mike and Linda Martin for an incredible sunset boat ride on the worlds 2nd cleanest lake( no one knows were number 1 is). A very heartfelt Thank You to the Hooligans at Racetrack Powersports ( Terry, Chris S and yes even Jason) for all the last minute repair work on Sams Bike. To all you great Sandies, M2, Wanda, PK, Jerry, Big Mitch, Dave ( The Duk), Tina, Terry C, Sandie John W, Bob L, even The Beckmiester and especially my wife and best friend Sam. All of you helped make this such a great adventure with your positive attitude, your incredible sense of fun and your willingness to try new things and enjoy doing it. These are the attributes that make a good Road Trip great and this one certainly was the Greatest, thank you.



My first trip as a Sandie and I pick a 5 day trip with these people, what the heck was I thinkin’?

Thursday: The mood around the breakfast table was rather somber; the 24 hours leading up to the trip hadn’t been so good for fellow Sandies ready to take the trip. Seems Backhoe showed his character and mettle by standing up for someone at work and the powers that be decided he needed to be available over the weekend “just in case” someone needed to speak to him. Bummer. Then the morning of the trip, JoeJoe’s bike wouldn’t start so his trip was cancelled at the last minute. ‘Nother Bummer! When early into the trip, Sam’s bike shut off, I thought for sure “that’s 3. George is turning this train around.” Fortunately, not a mechanical issue with bike and we rolled on.

First reunion of this reunion trip happened in Luverne, AL where Dave and Tina joined us. There I learned that Tina has da powah. Five minutes of them arriving and she has the Mitchell on his knees. Not sure what was in that white paper bag she handed over because he was clutching it close to his chest and was he going to share with his friends? I fear that any Sandie hand that came close to inspecting said contents was going to get lopped off.

Up until we hit the concrete perdition otherwise known as the Chattanooga highway infrastructure, we rode some beautiful and fun roads. The view and the run along the road on Lookout Mountain were spectacular. Unfortunately, we did have to navigate the Chattanooga highway system and it is a good thing our stop for the night was not long after because I was mentally done. Oh, but Mr. Make My Own Turn Lane George was not done with adventures for the day. The exit ramp had only one left hand turn lane and no traffic light and George decided we were going to sit too long. So under the guise of taking us right with a uweee to go left, he leads us to the RH turn lane and like good sheople, most of us follow. But when the traffic opens, we turn left anyway much to the consternation of the lady waiting to turn left in the legitimate lane. Thank goodness her window was rolled up because I think she may have taught me some new words. Dinner that night was at a joint called N’awlins. Except right up front we were told there were no gumbo, no ettoufette, and no oysters. Excuse me, but what was the name again? And nothing chicken was available. It took one of us longer than norm to grasp that no chicken also means no chicken strips, no chicken tenders, no chicken wings… you get the picture. But alas Tina found something to eat that wasn’t chicken although many decided the alligator tasted like chicken but was alligator priced. While they did not have anything chicken, they did have margarita pitchers with a price that tickled Moody and Michael and they partook of the pitchers.

Friday starts out heading to Deal’s Gap and the Dragon after meeting up with Terry Cooper in his Miata.Seems his bike was having issues as well; those darn bike gremlins. I like Terry, according to him there is nothing mentally disturbing about a biker carrying a sippy cup, David. This was my third & fourth trip through those 11 miles in 5 weeks and I still don’t understand the allure of it. One day. Maybe. All 4 trips were uneventful, no “oh sh poop!” moments so I must be a dragon slayer, right? Yeah, right! With my driving Miss Daisy pace, I’m pretty sure I just tickled the crap outa her. I am convinced that the Dragon is actually related to one of the Oz Witches, no not Glenda, and she just is wringing her hands, thinking “c’mon my pretty, one screw up is all I need to get you.” Not this time, it’s just a road.

Sad moment of the day is saying good-bye to John and Bob at this time and leaving them at Deal’s Gap resort following prerequisite pics.

They were sticking around the area to enjoy the great roads around there. We’re off to other roads and adventures. Lunch was a little Italian joint attached to a gas station. I’ll be honest, it did cross my mind that this had fast food indigestion written all over it. I was wrong. The food was really good and that was probably one of the most perfectly baked strombolies I have had. George claimed his Osso Buco was to die for. We all got checked into our hotel fairly early, unloaded and then went to try to charm a snake and take a run through Shady Valley. At the end of one of those beautiful rides on Hwy 133 was a stop at Backbone Tunnel, World’s shortest Tunnel; very cool indeed. This trip included a stop at the Country Store and a few souvenirs of the Snake were purchased. But someone had to be a buzzkill and point out that technically we didn’t actually ride the Snake which is Hwy 421. But we did cross 421 while on 133 so Sam and I ruled it and called it good and headed back to hotel and dinner. Just finishing up dinner, Sam’s sister Linda showed up as a surprise with a surprise. An invitation for a sunset cruise around Watauga Lake on her and Michael’s boat. The next surprise for Sam was that her parents Mr. John and Miss Ruth were going to join us. This is the reunion part of the Reunion Tour. And this is where we get to play the Sandie version of how many pollo... Sandies can we get in a van. Let’s see front seat is Linda (driver), Miss Ruth; second seat is Mr. John, Tina and Dave, back seat is George, Sam, and Jerry. Folded up in the tiny little cargo area like yesterdays dirty laundry is Wanda and yours truly. Michael takes one look at the van, decides he didn’t want to get that cozy with his fellow Sandies and passes on being folded up somehow. That Michael is a smart man. After we get to moving is when Wanda decides to share with everyone that she is trying really hard not to toot (pass gas for those not raised in the Kaby household). Whew, now I can blame Wanda rather than the dog since there was no dog available. Cool thing about the van ride was we actually passed a Drive-In Theatre which was still in existence and showing a movie that night. Back row at the drive-in: now THAT’s some stories for another publication. Sunset cruise was relaxing; Mike and Linda were wonderful hosts and Sam, daddy’s girl, got to spend some time with her family. That’s what it’s all about. The Mitchell wasn’t with us because he too took some time to spend with his family.

Saturday included a quick stop at Bristol Motor Speedway for a banner pic moment. That was thrilling to see for this NASCAR fan; I could almost hear the excitement of the crowd and roar of the cars. Almost. One day.

Then on to the super slab heading toward Virginia. We may have had to travel the Interstate system but still saw some beautiful country. Overall, I think Virginia has to be one of the most beautiful states to be seen from the roadway. A last minute addition to our trip, I think someone may have Burt ruled it, was a visit to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA. May be one of the highlights of the trip. This memorial is beautifully done and is a wonderful and moving tribute to that day 65 years ago 6 June. The bronze and water sculptures that capture that day on the beach will absolutely take your breath away. If it does not, you weren’t breathing to begin with.

While in the Bedford area, even with my limited historical knowledge of the Sandollar M/C, I think there may have been a first. Two u-turns – in the exact same place, same day. Add a few red lights that weren’t quite legally navigated and it has the Sandie Ride stamp on it. The afternoon includes a stop at Appomattox and what a treat that was. Listening to Tibbs, the Confederate Soldier talk about his battles and his side of the events, you could almost believe you were there. The only thing that would have made that complete was being able to listen to the accounts of the Union soldier but time did not allow and we were soon off again. Destination: hotel; via some crooked roads of course – one that included a marvelous old wood bridge.

Now this hotel is where the stories will differ. To accurately date the hotel, imagine this: we were given room keys. Real keys, not key cards. First room (yes, first – as in more than one) Wanda and I check in to has an AC problem in that it doesn’t cool. While waiting to give it time to start percolating correctly, Wanda picks up the remote to turn on the TV, it doesn’t work. After a short time elapses we decide the AC is not going to decide to work and she picks up the phone to call front desk, no dial tone. We decide not to look behind the bathroom shower curtain and I am quickly on the cell phone to the front desk: new room please. I will have to give them credit for expedient customer service, within 10 minutes of that phone call; we had everything moved into another room that had everything in working order. I can’t quite fathom why George is so excited about this very retro, but clean, hotel/motel; it must be an age thang.

Next morning starts out early with our first real breakfast as we congregated at the Waffle House and then onto another Burt Ruled stop. Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. This was another cool trip back in time. The multi-media interactive center is very impressive and much more time than we had could be spent in that one room alone. The trip is full of great memories but one of the priceless ones that I regretted as not being timelessly captured is the look on Sam’s face when the alarm went off when she moved away from an exhibit. Those blue eyes were as big around as our breakfast plates had been. But this trip does not include any tales of being asked to leave an exhibit. After George herded us around the parking lot, we were on the road again. Next destination: train station.

At the train station we met up with Jerry. He had left us early Saturday morning to drive on to outside the DC area to visit with an old friend whom he had served with. This friend owns sailplanes (gliders) and we all knew that Jerry was excited about seeing his friend and the planes. This is after all, the Reunion Tour. Watching the bikes being loaded was cool to watch. Those guys were pretty careful about it. Then again, wouldn’t you be if you knew that a group of bikers were watching your every move with their babies? We were probably more watchful than a momma with a newborn. Then our turn. All Aboard! The train trip was a fun trip; I had never been on a train ride and was excited about experiencing it on such a trip. The laughs and games among friends were timeless. The best part is that we did not write the Sandie version of Throw Momma from the Train. The same number of Sandies that got on, got off…the train, people, the train. This is where my part of the group ride ends. I am a worker bee slave to Corporate Hierarchy and the hierarchs called me home a day early. I was not able to enjoy Johnny and Becky’s hospitality much to my regret.

So there you have it: the Sandie version of Planes, Trains, & Automobiles. Of course we had to be different and included Bikes and Boats as well.

My first trip as a Sandie and I pick a 5 day trip with these people, what the heck was I thinkin’? I’m thinking that I must one smart, or very lucky


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