Photos from My Saddlesore Ride

to the Stagecoach 12/30/05

Early in December I recognized that I hadn't paid my dues to the Iron Butt, so I decided to ride to Stockton, AL to meet my MTF friends for lunch. I thought about doing a BBG (1500 in 24 hrs), but didn't have enough time to get it done and get back when I wanted, so I opted for a Saddlesore (1000 in 24 hrs). After getting off work Thursday, I eased down to Monroe, LA ( I live in Prosper, TX) to start my Saddlesore.

I found a quaint Motel 6 in Monroe to spend the night after riding a nice few hundred miles under a starlight night. The night temps were very moderate and it was a nice ride. There were very few cars in the parking lot, so I didn't think there were many staying over. I was soon corrected by the motel attendant who said there was only one room available, because the hotel was full of Katrina victims. She said she knew everyone staying in the hotel by first name and she was more than ready for everyone to leave. You could soon tell that there were a lot of folks sitting around with nothing to do, hmmmm.

I was up early the next morning to get my first receipt and, sure enough, the printer didn't work. Down the street to get 50 cents worth of more fuel and that printer didn't work either. I was fortunate the attendant was at work, even though the station wasn't open yet. She handed me a receipt through the locked door, thank you. I was on the road before the sun came up with a quick stop in Vicksburg for some scrambled eggs. I had plenty of time to accomplish my saddlesore, but I wanted to time my ride around the lunch get-together in Stockton, AL. I was already ahead of my schedule for doing that. This was my third time to go to Stockton, however I didn't make it the first time, because of a blown battery in Ruston, LA on my way. The Stagecoach is a popular annual lunch for long-distance and non-long distance motorcycle riders. A welcome trip during the early stages of winter.

I was ahead of my travel plans approximately one-hour, so I decided to get off the main roads in Hattiesburg and catch some smaller, more local roads. The temps were cooler this morning than they were the night before. I saw one sign that read 35 degrees. You can always become more familiar with the local culture taking some smaller roads and I wasn't let down on this excursion. There are many different lifestyles in the world and I include lower Mississippi and Alabama as being different. I also noticed plenty of blue roofs (tarped) and broken trees where Katrina did plenty of damage north of the coast.

I arrived in Stockton plenty early and greeted a few folks while taking some photos. It is always a favorite past-time to check-out the parking lot of any Motorcycle get-together, and this parking lot is very interesting. The Stagecoach has plenty of mix of characters and bikes that show-up. It can be very fun. I wanted to stay on my schedule, so I went in and ate pretty early. I had the opportunity to sit with two MTF (Motorcycle Tourer's Forum) folks that I hadn't met before (exactly what this stuff is about). I can't recall their names (I'm too young for this), but they were nice to visit with during lunch. After making my quick rounds in the parking lot, I departed.

I noticed John and JoAnn Hargis (from Gun Barrel City, TX) riding off about the same time, so I took the short-cut back to the interstate and set-up my GPS for the return trip while waiting on John and JoAnn to go by. I got so involved in getting my GPS set, I didn't notice them go by until there were "gone". I zoomed down the pavement to catch them to give them a quick wave. They pulled over for a quick howdy-do and we were back on the trail.

I didn't notice much Katrina damage till I was between Biloxi and Gulfport, and then, it was mostly signs along the highway that were damaged. I did see several trailer parks that looked full of FEMA trailers. Once I was south on I-10 around Slidell, I could see much more damage. The I-10 bridge was shut down to two-lanes and caused some delays. The bridge appreared to have lots of damage, but I couldn't figure out what could have caused the damage? Quite-a-bit of the siderail was either damaged or missing? Going through the Northeast part of New Orleans showed lots of streets totally uninhabitated although the larger streets were busy. Once I got on the Northwest side, everything seemed much more busy. I was trying to figure what the gameplan would be for getting things back to normal. Many of the houses and businesses need to be bull-dozed down, while others seemed to be fine. I'm sure there's a long process going to take place down there. I'm just very lucky not to be a victim of such a tragedy. I took some pictures, but they were taken while moving down the road. I bet many photographers have had a field day down there, because there is plenty of material to work with.

Coming back through Gonzales on the way to Baton Rouge led me into a huge traffic jam. One that continued pass the Mississippi bridge. I'm not sure why the traffic was so bad, but I had heard many of the New Orleans people had relocated to Baton Rouge. Maybe there is just too many people for the streets to handle? I hope the streets aren't this bad everyday.

The rest of the trip was pretty routine, but it got dark about 5:30 and it makes you more uneasy having to watch for animals and road debris. I was coming back through Forney enjoying my heated clothing, although I don't think it was much less than 50 degrees. The nighttime just makes it seem cooler. A Harley rider passed with no helmet or jacket, and I remember thinking I hoped he didn't have far to go. I was soon switched onto my reserve fuel at Forney and knew I had at least 40 miles before getting in trouble. I started to worry about my fuel situation at Allen, so I pulled over and took-on my fuel stop there instead of my hometown approx. 20 miles away. I knew it wouldn't be too smart calling my wife at midnight (on the side of the road) needing fuel. Even someone who understood this insanity wouldn't be able to see the intelligence in that risk. She supports my riding, but doesn't understand some aspects of it.

Anyway, another one done, and I had a great time again.



My GPS stats after the ride (1036 miles)

My odometer shows 1044 (pretty close)

Harley guy checking out my aux fuel
The stagecoach reported over 500 in attendance
BMW GS - nice ride
V-Strom with some slim luggage bags
It's always a favorite past-time to roam through the bikes
Did y'all notice the oil spill under the GS? I hope this isn't a problem, cause I'd like to have one.
Some of the MTF lunch bunch
I'm sitting still in traffic waiting to get across the bridge on my way to New Orleans. The gorilla seems to be excited about it.
We're now moving across the bridge. New Orleans is on the horizon. Notice the bridge on the right is not in-use because of damage.
Some debris in a strip mall in New Orleans.
An abandoned Apartment complex with storage containers scattered throughout
There were nice brick homes along the route that were totally evacuated. A lot of neighborhoods looked like ghost towns.
Many rooftops had blue tarps over the roofs. In fact, I saw many of these all the way back to Hattiesburg
The Superdome in the background