Road Trip Report: Tundra to Tropical…
‘Twas time for my annual migration south, especially given that the Minnesota motorcycling season ended with a cold snap and snow around the middle of December. Plan was to leave xmas day, but delayed by a freak blizzard in the Mississippi delta. Kudos to the National Weather Service and their excellent forecasts and the various states RWIS systems- I waited out the storms and had clear roads all the way.
None the less, still got a late almost 9 a.m. start due to the lengthy task of draining my house’s plumbing. Stopped in Mason City and Waterloo, IA to get some pix of abandoned Hostess Brands trucks…
Place was blown closed by snow, obviously been shut down for weeks. I suspect the first two, being 1994 and 1997 models, have a date with the metal monger. The last one, a 2000 model, is somewhat in demand as they’re the last cabover tractors sold in the U.S. After all that time wasting and two laning I called it a night in Hannibal after barely 500 miles.
Up early and sunup caught up with me on the way into St.Louis Was hoping for more Hostess trucks at their huge St.Louis bakery, reputedly a former aircraft factory designed so planes could be towed down I-70 to the airport… But all I found was a hundred or so fenced in step vans and no tractors. After that bit of unproductive “fishing”, and noting that I was getting behind schedule, I decide to skip the Memphis, Birmingham, and Columbus, Georgia bakeries and beat a path to the everglades. Hopped on I-64 then I-24 then I-75 and called it a night on the north side of Atlanta. Heavy holiday traffic driving like crazy, so 650 miles was enough.
Now generally I try to get through Atlanta before calling it a night, for obvious reasons. So I head south right through downtown at 6 a.m. expecting the worst… And fly through at posted + 4 mph whilst being passed by the locals on all sides! Apparently most of Atlanta took new years eve off, and they must have been partyin’ hardy that night! Headed south on I-75 I expected third world style driving at near NASCAR speeds, and was not disappointed… First prize goes to the clown with the beat up trailer toter pulling what looked to be his prized pulling tractor on a trailer with but one axle and them little “donut tires” who took great offense at my holding him to a mere 75 MPH for a few seconds before I could move to the right lane and let him resume his 80+ MPH pace. second place goes to the aged yuppie in the BMW 7 series who suddenly lost interest in passing the truck in the right lane and decided to exit stage right, darn near becoming a bumper ornament on said truck in the process. Innumerable honorable mentions goes to the guys with a plephora of everything from 400 HP+ chipped diesel pickups to beat up three and more decade old pickups with even tinier tires cruising at 80+ while said tiny tires lasted. The supposed professionals with CDLs weren’t doing much better, like the coal hauler that blew by at 80+… Somebody needs to tell him that the railroads have already won the coal hauling business, and they’re makin’ money at it too!
Thanks to the early start got to my steel shack on wheels by the everglades just as the sun set, didn’t even need a flashlight to turn on the water. Had to finally replace the 6 year old battery on the Buell, but she fired right up and I made a test ride to the gas station and back. One fork seal is leakin’ a bit though, but seems to ride OK, so far. Dragged the troublesome trailer out of the weeds (damn near disappeared) in preparation for fixing it’s nonstandard Chinese axle.
As always, the TDI did a great job, fuel mileage slightly improved to 42 MPG. Never went into limp mode and adequate power, so looks like my workaround of keeping revs below 3000 worked. Heck, went right up the 6% percent grades at a speed limit limited 65 MPH in top gear! A little vibration at 75 MPH, at 117k miles maybe I should get around to replacing the original struts.
Gettin’ back into the Florida routine… Tech day weekend after next, BMW Winter Rally, ride the human (under)powered bike, explore around with the Buell, shop for more bikes and parts…