My eye was not doing well. I have a solid bump on the eyelid that is painful to close. It wasn’t materially worse than it was last night, but not better either. I really wanted to get up to Deal’s Gap in western North Carolina, but not sure how to deal with my eye. If I’m in Atlanta, I know a doctor and I’ll be with my folks should it get worse. Looking online it appears to be a bad sty, but the swelling is more pronounced than it usually is. With much regret, I take the freeway south into Atlanta.
Bonnaroo is a music festival that apparently brings traffic on I-24 to a crawl. I didn’t pay much attention to it as I was not planning on taking the freeway, but now it was time to brace for the worst. The ride actually went pretty well. The state patrol had everyone line up on the shoulder so the impact to the southbound traffic was pretty minimal. Government worked well that day. Other jurisdictions should take note.
With Bonnaroo behind me, it was time to push into Chattanooga.
The freeway starts climbing a few passes, swings a few bends then comes back down. It was fun for the freeway. We dip into Georgia as a teaser then back into Tennessee. Passing into town all the familiar tourist traps appear: Lookout Mountain, Rock City, et al. Chattanooga was hillier than I remembered it, but traffic was fast enough you’d think you were on level ground.
Finally crossing into Georgia was huge.
I felt like I had really gotten somewhere. With less than 100 miles to go into Atlanta, the excitement was really there. Georgia had a really big welcome center and it was cool to come in as a tourist to see the place I had grown up. I was actually being welcomed back to where I came from.
There was a big poster of all the fun things to do in DeKalb County (my home). Coming out of the welcome center I ran into Dave from New York who was on his way to Atlanta.
He rode a DL1000 as well, but the 2005 version. Much like all of us, he had his share of mods on his bike but it was good to talk shop.
Now being back on the road Atlanta was in sight. It was less than one stop away. 88 miles!
My folks called to see if I was doing ok with all the wildfires in Northern California. I let them know I was doing well. They had to run but would be back later and then home until about 7:00. Perfect. I just had to make it home by 6:00 so I’d have a place to stay for the night. Looking at the GPS I’d hit the Perimeter at 5:00. Not good. Interstate 285 north of Atlanta has such horrific traffic I needed a new plan. I decided to ride in on GA 53 near Lake Lanier then cut south on GA 400. One of the things I had been cautioned on a few times was “get-there-itis.” With my eye not feeling so well, get-there-itis was not much of an issue. Traffic clogged up the closer I got into town, but still kept reasonably moving. I’ve been blessed in that respect on this trip. Other than Sacramento, Atlanta is the first major city I’ve had to cross. I routed around Denver and have been in minor cities for the rest of the trip.
I pulled into Atlanta at 5:50 with 10 minutes to spare. I parked a few blocks away before calling my folks. I had a lot of anxiousness about how they’d react. I know they don’t like the idea of me riding. A few years ago I was planning on doing this trip but was talked out of it. I wasn’t ready then (having done it now). But I’m here and it is time to call.
The conversation went something like this:
“Oh Hi, Danny”
“I got in a few days early. I’m down at the pool. I’ll give you one guess how I got here.”
“By plane of course. But how did you get from the airport?”
“I’ll give you one more guess.”
“By motorcycle? No. . .”
“I’ll see you in 2-3 minutes”
My folks were super surprised. Neither could really believe that I’ve come all this way (about 4,000 miles) by motorcycle. While they tend to not like the idea of me riding a motorcycle, it was very cool to share in the joys of riding and the trip with them. No “you shouldn’t have” or “you could have died out there”; just sharing excitement on that I’ve come so far to see them.
I now feel that I’m far from home and have really journeyed. 4,000 miles down and 500 to go.