Lodging and Running

Couchsurfing.com hooked me up right in New Orleans. I stayed with a totally cool filmmaker along with some other people. He took me out to a couple of great shows in the French Quarter and I met my one goal for every NOLA trip: surviving a hand grenade.

Yesterday was my first 500-mile day (map). I left the Interstate several times to ride U.S. 11, a slightly slower route with more hills and turns. I meant to take a byway around Birmingham (69 to 79 to U.S. 72) but the storm around Tuscaloosa robbed me of an hour.

Couchsurfing.com totally failed me in Chattanooga. Despite starting two weeks in advance, I could not find a place to sleep. Three people said “no” due to their own circumstances and two didn’t respond at all. I got to Chattanooga after midnight and couldn’t get a room at any Marriott because a sorority had booked everything for a big event. I prefer Marriotts only because I still carry a Platinum Elite rewards card which they gave me for staying with them when I was working for Lockheed Martin.

So I wound up at the Wingate in Chattanooga, which only had a smoking room. I figured I should take advantage of this so I asked the clerk if he sold cigarettes and he said he did not. Damn. So I woke up this morning with a nose full of other people’s smoke and no neti pot. Remind me to avoid smoking rooms and to pack my neti pot so I can rinse my sinuses out. Well, at least the shower head rocked.

Also, please remind me to get a bigger bike. My 500cc 1985 Honda Shadow runs very well on the highway but it’s not as smooth as a bigger bike would be (it works pretty hard to maintain 75mph) and the vibrations take their toll on the body. I would like more than anything to get a Honda Valkyrie, a cruiser with a 1500cc flat-six engine just like the Goldwing’s. Honda stopped making them a few years ago so they are only available used.

Well, now I’ve breathed enough of this smoking room air and it’s time to hit the trail. I just noticed that you can click and drag to alter routes in Google Maps, so plotting today’s route was much quicker. Note the twisty interlude in the second half (map).