But after a disparaging remark by me about Jess' posting that our bikes were disposable, saying that they would all have problems, etc. we all got emails from Patrick uninviting us to ride with them. Then we were all cut off the website and most got no response to repeated emails asking for a reasonable answer. It was disheartening and very unfortunate.
Instead, we decided to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway that goes from near Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi. We called ourselves the Natchez 7.
Because we had all booked vacation time for the Cannonball, we left on April 21. Six of us left Jacksonville and headed to Douglas, Georgia where we met up with Elaina who was riding there from Brunswick. From there we rode all day to Auburn, Alabama, a total of around 350 miles.
The second day had a destination of the Barber Motorcycle Museum outside of Birmingham, what should have been an uneventful ride through the northern hills of Alabama. But instead, I didn't get the Garmin well programmed and got off of the planned route. It all led to a wrong turn that saw two of us drop our scooters, including me. A Vespa GT does not like going on its side and it took us around two hours to get it running well again. It needed an air filter cleaning and a new spark plug. The rear brake lever was also broken in the fall, so the remainder of the trip had me with a front brake only. We made it to Barber and enjoyed seeing all of the cool bikes and cars.
The next morning, with my hand swollen and bike leaking coolant, I decided to abandon the ride and head home. But my wonderful friend Sue convinced me to stay on the ride. I am so pleased that I did. We headed north to Franklin Tennessee. On the way, we found an automobile repair shop where I asked them if they could fix the leaking radiator hose. It was near the clamp and the nice fellow cut off the bad part and reattached the line. No problems after that. He didn't want to charge me anything, but I paid anyway. The day became very cold and windy as we headed north to Franklin, but we all survived well.
Day four was the top of the Natchez Trace Parkway. It was very beautiful and the day was great. At a point near the middle of the day, I handed over the lead position to Russ as I got tired of everyone poking around, not keeping up. We couldn't get lost either as there was only one, clearly marked road. We spent the night in Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley, so a few of us rode to his park.
The next day, we all met up and I decided I would head to Natchez by myself to enjoy the road on my own. Selfish, I know, but I loved it. I didn't want to stop and except for one fuel stop, I made it to Natchez in no time at all. I found a hotel for everyone and looked around to see the historic city as well as a quick trip across the Mississippi River to Louisiana so I could add it to my states visited map. The others came in and all was good again.
Charlie wanted to go to Biloxi, Mississippi so he could do a little gambling, so that was our next destination. We arrived there after a very easy 220 mile ride and found unbelievable devastation from Hurricane Katrina along with the many others that have hit the area. We went to a restaurant location that was an empty lot. That night Charlie and the others went gambling while I took a ride along the Gulf to Bay St. Louis and back. Had I realized how close it was, I would have left earlier and gone to New Orleans.
The next day was a ride east, intended for the others in the group to stay near Panama CIty while I met up with my family in Tallahassee to see our son graduate. We all started to break apart as some needed to get home. I was running late and broke away east of Pensacola to pick up I-10 and made it to Sam's apartment before my wife and daughter. We then went to Barnacle Bills for seafood and family time.
My last day was to go to the graduation, then we headed home. I, unfortunately blew out the exhaust gasket in Madison and, without a spare that went home with Russ, had to creep home with it blowing.
It was a great ride, even with my little issues.
Meeting up with Elaina in Douglas, Georgia
Auburn, and what was left of Toomer's Corner
Back upright, but not running yet.
Vespas in the Barber Museum
Friendly repair shop in north Alabama
Me on Lightning. No rear brake lever.
At the north end of the Natchez Trace Parkway
On the Parkway
The birthplace of Elvis Presley
I broke away and started hanging out with a bad crowd.
Nothing left along the Gulf in parts of coastal Mississippi.