4 days, 1460 miles, two bikes, Mardi Gras.
Day One - 520 miles, East Tennessee to Panama City Beach.
There's nothing like getting an early start on the day, up before everyone else and putting miles under you. My day started like most others, late. On the road about 10am but that's okay, it's vacation! Picked up I-75 towards Atlanta way.
Out of Atlanta I picked up I-85 to I-185 and crossed into Alabama at Phoenix City. Highway 431 to Dothan and then 231 into Panama City, 98 to my buddy's place.
Long cold day, but no big deal. So I'm crashed on the couch watching Treasure Hunters on the tube and he's asking why I want to do the ride. Do I need a reason? Well, I wanted to check out the Gulf Coast and maybe spend a day in New Orleans, Check out the town, get some good food. Easy, right? So it's 11pm and I'm falling asleep and he's all up in my grill like "Hey man, isn't it Mardi Gras this weekend?" I wave him off, no way I say. "No, no no, pretty sure it's this weekend." His roommate pipes up from the other room - "yeah! they rolled out parades today!".
Well crap, that changes everything. Out come the laptops and Hilton Diamond member cards, we need hotels and bike storage and how we gonna work this!! Hotels in the city were booked solid, but we had to check. We went around for a bit and settled on riding to Biloxi, MS and laying up there. Then on day 3 riding into New Orleans and winging it from there. We can always backtrack or head out of town and get a room (on points of course). Now, where do we keep the bikes? No hotel in the city means no parking. We wanted to keep our stuff secure of course.
We both fly for the same private jet company, let's go to the airport! We call ahead to the FBO on the field and ask about parking the bikes there. Secure parking all set the players take the field for day two.
Day Two - 225 miles
The plan was to take 98 all the way to Mobile Bay and then check the clock. We ended up short on the clock in Mobile so we hopped on I-10 the rest of the way to our hotel.
Hampton in for the night, and a welcome sight. On hit 50 degrees along the Gulf that day.
A hot meal and quick stop and Cowboys and Cadillacs and it's hit the rack time. Casa de bike trip. Ahhhhhhh
Day 3 - 100 miles for the Harley, 220 for me
11am start, now that's respectable!
Quick hundred miles down I-10 to New Orleans, rolled in about 1 o'clock and headed to the airport.
The FBO was most accomodating and opened their gates for us. We parked on the secure side of the fence under cover no less! Very classy.
Taxi cab into town and we just have the cabbie drop us near the parade route. We wound through the crowds, Bourbon Street was our goal.
Think we found it.
Welcome to Mardi Gras!
Well, okay, now that's more like
We cruised Bourbon Street a couple times, stopped in one bar for a break. Nice outfit on the bar tender, gotta love creative costumes.
My buddy met up with some friends and got hooked up with a hotel that night. I had over 600 miles home and didn't want to stay on someone's floor in town, so I booked.
2nd half of day 3, I make 120 miles north up I-59 to Hattiesburg, MS and crash for the night.
Day Four - 480 miles home.
I-59 north and east through Meridian, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. Got in a nice conga line of traffic on I-59 and made legal plus 20-25 most of the way. Windy too, so my mileage dropped to mid 30's, but I made great time. I-59 all the way to Chattanooga and I-75 back towards home. Started out okay in Mississippi but by the time I got home temps were in the mid 30's. Temps never got lower than my mileage, but low. I was chilled to the bone when I got home, no heated gear. But a hell of a ride!