Rain suit test

Yep. Today was the day.

While riding back from the Naval Aviation Museum, I got caught in a very good southern thunderstorm. Deluge.

I was smart enough to see it coming and so I’d pulled over to put on the brand new rainsuit. I also put the face shield onto my 3/4 helmet.

It worked very well, minus a few lessons learned. Lesson 1. Make sure the velcro cover over the front zipper is fully closed or the front of your shirt will get soaked. Lesson 2. You cannot wear sunglasses beneath the visor in a monsoon. They will fog up and you can’t see. Lesson 3. Your gloves are going to get soaked. Lesson 4. Your boots will fill with water.

Now that I’ve learned these things, next time will be a better experience. If I’d been camping tonight, I’d be miserable so I’m lucky.

The Naval Aviation Museum was my heaven. So many cool things to geek out over. The Aircraft Carrier Documentary was actually pretty lame and not worth the $8 to see it. The history channel could have done a better job.

I was impressed at the number of significant aircraft on display.

One thing to mention though. In all of the museums I’ve ever been to, I’ve never seen a P-38. Anyone have a line on where I can find one? It’s my favorite. This place did have an Me-262. Super rare. Awesome. I think I touched it.

It’s been so nice to be with my cousins family. She has some really cool kids. We did motorcycle rides for a while tonight. I may have warped them a little bit. They all got off the bike, saying their dad had to get one. I would agree though.

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

Are you new to blogging, and do you want step-by-step guidance on how to publish and grow your blog? Learn more about our new Blogging for Beginners course and get 50% off through December 10th.

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Back at it

It was hard to see Megan go this afternoon. We had a really good time in NO though and I think we saw everything we wanted to. The days seemed to blend together and I’m kind of glad it was only as long as it was.

We had fun at the tomato festival this morning even though there really wasn’t that much going on.

I dropped Megan off at the airport at 2pm and I was on the road again. It didn’t take me very long to get through the city and soon I was on back roads through the bayou. Apparently that’s some people’s idea of a great place to retire. I assume the fishing is amazing and if that’s what you’re into, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place.

As I was driving up over lake Ponchartrain, a regatta was passing under the bridge. I stopped to take a couple photos.

The drive was interesting. Not too scenic but interesting nonetheless. I even drove past one of the largest military shipyards. I had no idea it was there.

As I was turning out of Mobile Alabama, I saw a sign for Battleship Park and the USS Alabama. Unfortunately I was 30 minutes past closing time so I couldn’t tour the ship itself but it was neat to explore the grounds. Quite a few other vehicles there as well.

My planned campground was another 47 miles away. I checked my distances and my cousins, who I plan to spend the next few days with, was only 51 miles away. I called and asked if I could come a day early. She graciously obliged and so I am on my way. I stopped to give her some more time and then I’ll finish my night there. I’m excited to see her family.

The south has been a great journey so far. It’s a beautiful place and so much more than I expected. And it’s not over yet. So much more to come.

A loss

Someone on a page I follow posted this cry for help from a veteran with PTSD. Less than 24 hours later he had taken his own life.

Sometimes just putting it all out there can make it hurt more because you get to see it all, vividly, in writing. Trust me on that one.

I can also tell you that just reaching out to the vet or troubled person is not enough. Someone, you, needs to go to that person asap. Spend however much time you need to with them to make sure they are safe. This vet has so many replies to his comment, offering him rooms to stay or a shoulder to cry on. It obviously didn’t help. He didn’t see it as help, he just saw it as more empty words. Well meaning or not, nobody came to find this guy and he decided to end the pain.

Very sobering.

Patience

I run out of patience quickly.

And then it becomes anger.

I don’t mean to be so impatient but it comes with the territory. A very short fuse.

If I expect something and that something isn’t happening, then I am on edge and woe be the person responsible.

I’ve had to apologize to my wife several times this trip. I snap and say things I shouldn’t. At least I recognize it and can say something but it’s always too late. She’s a saint for putting up with me and forgives me pretty quickly.

People I don’t know though? Oh, it’s on. Don’t piss me off. I will let you have it. I don’t have much remorse for that and I know that makes me not a very nice person.

Today had moments. We called it a day a bit earlier than normal because my patience and tolerance is wearing thin. We’ll quit while we’re ahead.

We went on the paddle steamer Natchez and wandered the city streets a lot.

We’re still one souvenir short for our oldest son.

Tomorrow is the Tomato festival and Megan is already training for the tomato eating contest.

It’s been a good break so far.

Touristing

That’s not a word but that’s what we did today.

Took it easy this morning and then rolled into NO at about 10am. We wandered around for awhile and then I took my wife on a trip. Something that took her waaay outside her comfort bubble. She hates alligators. They really freak her out.

I had signed us up for a swamp tour. Not a chintzy airboat one but on a big swamp boat where you can walk around and actually learn something. We definitely got what we paid for and Megan surprised me by really getting involved, although she still breathed a big sigh of relief when we came back to dry land. I’m very proud of her.

Back in NO we wandered around some more, grabbed some dinner and then rode back to the hotel.

What I haven’t mentioned is that Megan was born in NO. She lived here for almost two years and has no memory of the place. Her mom however remembered their address and so we searched out Megan’s childhood home. It was a neat experience to be with her as she rediscovered her roots.

All good stuff.

Driving in traffic

Before I say what I’m feeling today, I’d like to say that I am loving having my wife here. She’s my safe place and it’s so good to have her near me again. We had a great day exploring the National WW2 museum and then exploring the French Quarter on the bike.

Today was a good test for me.

I’ve had some good days and was feeling really good about my progression. What was worrying me and hanging over my head was that I really hadn’t experienced much stress to really test me.

Riding through downtown New Orleans was just what I needed. Said tongue in cheek.

Having my wife on the back of the bike, being close to cars, crazy pedestrians, bicycles and a myriad of other crazy things were really working my mind over time.

I worked hard at keeping calm. It doesn’t feel like a huge victory and I have to say that tonight I am really burned out. A very taxing day. I have three more days of this and I might just crack.

Some pics from the museum today, including one of my great uncles name on the wall of lost submariners. He was on the USS Grayback.

Trees.

Trees are my favorite natural thing and today I was in heaven. Mississippi seems to have several varieties of flowering trees and only one I know the name of, the Magnolia. Along with the many other types of trees, it was heaven.

I hopped onto the Natchez Trace Scenic byway heading south for about 40 miles. Not much for views since the trees overhang most of it but it was such a beautiful road to ride. I took a bunch of pictures and they just can’t capture the awe that the real thing induced.

I love history and so riding the Trace after everything else I experienced today was just icing on the cake.

I’ve now made my way down to Baton Rouge Lousiana. I picked up a chip at the local Harley dealership and now I need to kill some time. I’m an hour and 45 minutes from New Orleans and if I keep going now, I’ll hit bad traffic. If I wait, I’ll be riding in the dark which is against one of my rules. I’d rather take my chances with the dark than stupid people.

I’m really looking forward to New Orleans. There’re very few big cities that I like and N.O. is one of them. Yes, I’ve been there before but it was only a short day trip.

Here’s my big news.

My wife is flying into N.O. tonight! We’d discussed the possibility before I left but we really didn’t think we could make it work for a myriad of reasons. Well, my mom has the young kids, the older two have sworn to be on their best behavior and my wife found a good deal for flights and a hotel. So we get to spend the next four days and nights together in the big easy. My wife was born there 25 years ago (see what I did there?) and she hasn’t been there in just about that long.

I’ll try to keep up on the blog but no promises. I think you’ll understand if there’s radio silence for a few days. We’ll see. I’m sure I’ll try.

I also want to make sure to thank again everyone who has subscribed, liked a post or, and especially, left a comment. It means the world to me that what I’m doing is resonating with some of you. I just need to help one person. Right now that person is me but if you share my blog, it can possibly be someone else.

PTSD sucks.

I know it seems like everything is rosy right now and I’m having the time of my life. It’s true that things are going well but I also consciously backed off from posting some things. Maybe I shouldn’t have. I don’t want to give the wrong impression and this facade thing is getting old. I am ok. I am enjoying my days more but I am truly worried that this won’t last or carry over once I’m done. As I’ve said before PTSD butts its ugly head in at all the wrong times.

Once again. Thanks. Good night.

Not getting very far

That’s a good thing though.

I heard the pitter patter of rain on my tent last night just after 3am. I got up real quick to put the rain cover on my bike and to put my helmet undercover. It wasn’t a soaking rain but everything did get damp. My wife hates ants so I won’t tell her that I moved my helmet to a really stupid spot in the dark and I spent a good amount of time in the morning picking them out. They are the really small buggers too and I’m still finding them. Yikes. Hehe.

Got down to Vicksburg by 9 am and had breakfast at a great local spot called the Mad Baker. I asked the proprietor for some recommendations of things to do before the battlefield and she pointed me to a wall of murals and to the museum of the Mississippi river. That ended up being pretty interesting and not something I would have normally done.

The battlefield of course was a very special place. I found it interesting to learn that once the war was over, Soldiers came by the hundreds to mark on the ground where their units had been and where they had fought. It made Vicksburg the most well marked battlefield in the US. States were also encouraged to build individual monuments to their home units. The site is covered in markers resembling large tombstones for each of their companies that participated. Some are small and some are quite grandiose. The southern states took longer to recover economically and so their markers aren’t as prolific.

Next I checked out the skeleton of the USS Cairo (pronounced cay-roh). It was sunk after hitting a mine on the Yazoo river near Vicksburg in 1862. All of the sailors were able to escape with their lives and later manned an artillery battery during the siege of Vicksburg. Apparently Soldiers came from all over the battlefield to watch these guys in action because they still maintained their Sailor duties and customs. Anyway, the wreck was discovered in 1956 and salvaged in 1964. Very interesting.

Finally I had a very sobering drive through the Union Cemetary. 40% of the graves are of “colored” Soldiers which I found highly interesting and 80% of the graves are nameless.

I did a “scenic” drive the Vicksburg and now I’m eating lunch at a roadside fruit stand called The Tomato Place that came highly recommended. I was told to get the BLT. It was amazing.

Now I’m on my way to New Orleans. Big city driving. Not my favorite.

What a day.

It’s 8:52pm. It’s just about completely dark outside and I just barely finished setting up camp and getting set for the night. 497.8 miles in and I’m at Lake Village RV camp in Lake Village Arkansas. Right on the border with Mississippi and almost right on the river. I can feel the humidity in the air. Between that and having to spray my self with bug spray the moment I parked and, well. I’ll leave it at that.

Would you believe that state parks and even RV campgrounds are rare in central and SE Arkansas? They are, for sure. The one I found in Warren was nice enough but they didn’t want just tent campers. So tack on another 50ish miles and now I’m here. Even Warren was over 100 miles after Tim and I parted ways.

Tim.

That guy. He barely knew me from Adam. He had been on a big motorcycle trip and had mentioned on a forum I follow that he’d be in my area of Utah. Megan and I rode out to meet him and his company and we did a big ride together. That’s all. One day. But he supports what I’m doing and he’s just an all around great guy, so he spent last night and almost the whole day with me today. Just to ride and to show me where the good roads were. And also to provide some much needed company. Thanks Tim.

We really did hit some great roads. I’m of the opinion though that you’d be hard pressed to find bad roads in this area. We had a really great time, judging by the smiles on our faces. At lunch we came to the conclusion that Tim needed another night over before he’d press for home, and I needed to push farther to the south east of the State in order to set me up better for tomorrow.

We split ways in Hot Springs and it was initially hard to be back on my own again. I settled in and just forced myself to feel the flow of the bike. It was interesting how the scenery changed though. Quite a few more small towns and in between them, it was obvious I was in logging country which kind of surprised me. Beautiful nonetheless.

I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t get anywhere fast in Arkansas, and maybe the whole South, though that has yet to be determined. You can be on what you think is a highway, it has four lanes and a median, although the speed limit is never higher than 55. Then as you get close to a town, the lanes will disappear and you’ll find yourself driving through a tired old town at 25, and you’re thinking where the hell did the highway go?

So I’m driving through logging country and I realize that today must be the official state of Arkansas day to mow your lawn. I’m absolutely not kidding when I say that everyone was mowing today. If I didn’t see them actually mowing, then it was obvious the grass had just been mowed. This is no small feat here because these people have MASSIVE lawns. Acres. I’m sure it grows wild here and they just start mowing until they get bored. Even the state itself had crews out doing the sides of the roads. I know I’ve gone on and on about this but it really was on my mind a lot today, so you get to hear about it as well.

The last 30 miles of my ride was out of the logging forests and onto flat farmland near the Mississippi river. It was a sudden transition that took me by surprise. One second there were 100 foot tall trees and then there was a field of corn, and that was it.

I’m tired. I’m beat. I’m content. It was a big day and it was worth it.

Tomorrow I’ll head towards Vicksburg where I’ll stop to check out the battlefield. Then it’ll be on to New Orleans where I have some big news I’ll be sharing later. I’m excited.

Until then…