March 7 2011 by Jason Fogelson
There is frost on the Electra Glide while I load the saddlebags with my gear. The poor bike has sat outside the BEST WESTERN Executive Inn in Jackson while I slept inside, nestled in a very comfortable bed. I feel a little guilty.
Even though the BEST WESTERN Executive Inn serves up a very nice free continental breakfast, I heed the siren call of the Waffle House across the street for a freshly cooked omelet. We don't have Waffle House at home, and I passed at least a dozen of them on my ride yesterday. I can't resist the greasy goodness, and I'm not alone. There are over 1,500 Waffle House locations in 25 states. There's even a Waffle House Museum in Avondale Estates, Georgia, where the chain was born. The Jackson Waffle House is packed with a mixture of locals and cowboys this morning, relics of the Dixie National Rodeo from last night.
After eating my fill, I check out of the hotel and saddle up on the Electra Glide. My first stop is just a mile up the road - The Mississippi State Capitol Building. The Beaux Arts building was completed in 1903, and renovated in 1983. It is 402 feet long, and 180 feet to the top of its elegant dome. An eight-foot tall gold eagle graces the top of the dome, and is visible for miles around. The grounds of the Capitol are deserted today, because it is Saturday. I'll have to be satisfied admiring the building from outside this trip.
I leave Jackson behind, and head north on State Route 25. My destination for today is Demopolis, Alabama, which is due east of Jackson, but I'm taking a more roundabout route. I want to avoid the superslab whenever possible - Boring!
SR 25 turns out to be a lovely road, if a little straight for my taste. The scenery was incredible, though. Thickets of trees line the road, a mixture of pine and poplar (I think). Much to my surprise, a thin blanket of snow lined the ground beneath the trees for much of my ride today, and I even saw a few patches of ice in the shadows on the roadway. I was able to avoid them easily, but I was on my guard any time the road was shaded by trees.
At Louisville, Mississippi, I stop for gas and a change of direction. I decide to head east, across the Alabama border on SR 14. The road gets smaller, and the trees of Mississippi give way to the gently rolling hills and ranchland of Alabama. Cattle graze languidly, lifting their eyes as I glide past on the sleek Harley-Davidson. I slow down to watch a rambunctious young steer kicking up his heels and trying to get his mother's attention. He reminds me of last night's rodeo. Maybe he's in training.
I pick up SR 17 South, and slow down through the small town of York. I stop at the railroad tracks and watch a freight train go by in one direction. The gates rise for me to cross the tracks, only to go down again before I can move, as an Amtrak liner lumbers through in the other direction. That's the most action York has seen in weeks, I'm sure.
Just south of York, SR 17 runs into US 80. I pull over to the shoulder before the intersection to consult my map. I'm pretty sure that I should be heading east, but I want to make sure. Just minutes after I stop, a bearded gentleman pulls up in an old sedan, and hollers out the window. "Are you okay? Need help?" I go over to his window and thank him. I'm fine, just checking my map. Turns out he really wants to talk motorcycles - he owns a 2009 Ultra Classic Electra Glide. We chat for a minute about how great our bikes are, and then he's on his way. "Ride safe, now!" His creaky sedan trundles off down the road.
Back on the bike, I motor on in to Demopolis, and find the BEST WESTERN PLUS Two Rivers Hotel & Suites, my second-ever BEST WESTERN PLUS Hotel experience. This one is very different from the one in New Orleans - it's a new, modern hotel, and each room is a suite with a microwave kitchenette and a flat-screen television. I can get used to this PLUS experience.
I decide not to get back on the bike to find a fine dining experience in Demopolis, instead opting to walk across US 80 for a casual dinner at a local sports bar, Batter Up. Chicken wings and a shrimp po' boy, and a Landshark beer, all in the glare of six big screen televisions showing college basketball. Sometimes that's just the ticket. I'm glad I decided to walk.
Tomorrow, I drive across Alabama, and into Georgia. The weather report calls for a warming trend.
Perhaps I won't have to feel guilty about leaving my Electra Glide out in the cold much longer.
Miles ridden: 215
Next: Demopolis, Alabama to Columbus, Georgia