A belated report on my big moto tour... I might throw up a bunch of pics in the Photos forum; here I will just sort of recap.
After Huntsville, AL I hit the freeway and rode all day and into the night, arriving in New Orleans about 10 hours later. The speed limit was generally 70 mph on that route, but I took a lot of breaks and even got off onto lesser highways that paralleled the interstate, when I was bored.
Looking over the machine the next day, I found nothing wrong... front forks still leaking oil a bit, but no worse than before. Changed the oil during my one-week stay there, and it looked fine. A bit low in quantity, but that may be partly due to me not also changing the filter this time, and last time I may not have put enough oil in, as I had checked the level with the bike on its side stand. Coolant level was fine and it looked nice and clean.
But after all those hard miles, "Imoto" as I now call her ("little sister" in Japanese) had no new complaints.
Well, I never did get on a movie crew that week ( union politics; long story), but Steve put me to work on his house for cash- out in an attic ladder in the kitchen, put some gussets on the attic rafters, helped put up some siding, and helped him tidy up his backyard (full of building materials).
Made a few day trips in the French Quarter, and went out in the evening a few times. A motorcycle is ideal for negotiating the narrow old streets clogged with vehicle and foot traffic, and there's always a parking space for a motorcycle, but damn, are the streets rough! enormous potholes, gravel, sand, and of course cobblestones. But it was fun. At one point we even swapped machines- me on his BMW F650GS, which I liked, even though it seemed a bit too tall and "stiff" for me. His take on Imoto? "It's weird. But it's got a lot of power, and smoooth! I wanna take it onto the highway..." He never did, but maybe some day.
It turned out that Lakefront Airport was hosting its annual Air Power Expo that week... I had no idea until I heard the distinctive drone of four very large radials one day, and looked up to see "Fifi", the world's only flying B-29, cruising over the city at low level. Shot out there on the bike ASAP to check it out, and enjoyed that. Too bad I didn't have $500 handy to take a ride on the B-29, but what the hell, when it flew into KTEB once, I got to sit in the left seat when it was parked on the ramp...
Anyhoo... soon enough it was time to head home... took a slightly different route, this time hauling ass up to the Talladega Nat'l forest in Alabama to camp the first night. I was surprised to discover when I arrived after a hard day of riding, that the road from the highway to the campground was about 12 miles of hard-packed dirt and gravel, winding over hills deep into the forest. That went well, but I was very nervous, what with my street tires and the top-heavy load. Came upon a different campsite, only 7 miles in, and realized that pressing on to the north would be useless, as there would be another 20 miles of even twistier-looking gravel beyond that for the next days' ride. So I opted for this closer site, planning to double back in the morning then get back on the interstate.
Morning arrived with torrential rain... I had to use the daylight, so no waiting for it to slack off. Broke camp, packed, and rode out of the forest in a deluge. Fortunately the dirt road was still firm, and not washed out anywhere.
Left the rain behind somewhere in Georgia, kept the hammer down, and eventually arrived at Linville Falls Campground, back on my beloved Blue Ridge Parkway. Still quite early, so I had a liesurely time of making camp, finding firewood, and preparing my one fancy camp meal of the trip: a big steak with wild rice and broccoli. Sat up stargazing for a while, then turned in.
Next morning there was frost on everything, so the tent got wet all over again... sigh. But the road was dry, my planned days' ride was short, and it became a glorious sunny fall day. Headed north on the BRP to Grandfather Mountain,where there is a steep switchback road to the top, and foot access to its mile-high summit. That was worth an hour or so... beautiful!
Camped at Peaks of Otter, about 80 miles from the north end of the parkway, then rode the rest of it in the morning, including the 40+ miles I had negotiated in the dark on my way down...
When you leave the BRP northbound, you go over an overpass, and boom! there''s the gate for Skyline Drive, which winds unimpeded for 115 miles through the Shenandoah park. Paid the $10 fee and had at it, as the sky turned overcast. I decided to just keep on going that day, as it would be no problem arriving home after dark. Made it home without incident almost 12 hours later, road-weary and dazed, and pretty sad it was over. Imoto seemed sad, too, when I shut her down and pulled off the heavy load. Lucky for both of us, the truck still needed work, so the very next morning we had a nice ride to the post office in the pouring rain...