Georgia

Big Chickens and Late Night Excursions

Travel Day

As expected I got on the road today. As not expected it was much later than usual and in the midst or torrential downpours of and on throughout the trip. After some stops it was well into midday when I departed Atlanta and set out for Indianapolis. I had a long day ahead.

Taken two hours into the ride the mysterious leak persists. We’ll discuss shortly.

“This is the hardest stuff in the world to photograph… You see it, and then you look down in the ground glass and its just nothing. As soon as you put a border on it, it’s gone.”

Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

There you have it. The very nature of being a photographer. We attempt to capture the world as we see it and it always fails. I think the best photographers learn the trick is capturing it as you envision it, not as it is. After all didn’t God make the world already perfect, why repeat what’s already done. (Don’t get me on my Big Bang, String Theory, Divine Creation belief. Its a weird hybrid. If you ever want to discuss I’m more than happy to.)

What this means is that as artists we seek to share our interpretation of the world. Even the greatest artists in the world can only hope to do that, a painting of a flower is still just paint on a surface not a flower itself. We can’t duplicate so what is it that we attempt to do. Why make the effort at all. I think its because we all seek some way to open ourselves up. To expose our chest apple to the universe and see if it gets bruised or shined to a shimmering glow. I won’t extrapolate too much today because my brain is still in a fog from sleep deprivation. Though it did make me think about the decision to be an artist. I always said, its because I could draw and sucked at math. Both true. But mostly because I processed information in a way that makes sense when represented visually, science did that as well. I was always a geek for science and for those of you that know me well, know that was part of my original college path. To see something is to know it, to be sure of it. At least it was for me. I think that’s why I make art, photographs. If I can share something or part of myself with the world that people can see as “real” then they can come to know it, hopefully as I do. I can share my pains and joys, my sadness and my heart with the world while still protecting myself through the glass of the frame.

Day Three

After a trip back to the shop in the morning they thought they had the issue diagnosed. As you can see once again, we were terribly wrong. Haha. Oh, the humanity of it all! This must be dealt with in haste. The hour repair was believed to be an issue in the clutch which in turn desperately needed new fluid so the mix up is highly possible and due to torrential rains the leak didn’t act up when they needed to see it. Isn’t that always the case. So while this isn’t a trip ender, I’d like to put a pin in it and get it taken care of as soon as possible, I have ideas, this bastard ain’t gonna beat me. On a side note, I hate my new pipes. Well, I love that they work, I don’t mind them being used, they just need some TLC. I hate that they’re so quiet, you could hear me coming. I miss as Big Red says, “sounding like a damn dump truck.”

It sure ain’t Texas Tea

To start, the guys at ATL Motorcycle Repair are awesome. They’ve been really accommodating through all my issues the past few days and represent in full. Besides being just knowledgeable they’re reasonable. Best of both worlds. Can’t recommend them enough. So after leaving the shop I quickly ran to Cycle Gear to look for some new waterproof boots or leg covers. The storms were upon me and I wanted to do my best to stay dry. Needless to say it didn’t last long. I had already gotten puddle soaked driving to the shop. The dreaded lower leg wetness, but I can can make due with my leathers otherwise. It may be time to invest in a better fix for rain though because I came up empty handed.

Then the trip home began. The trip usually takes 8 1/2 hours by car so I guessed at 10 by bike with gas and a snack stop.

Two things happened before I got on the road. Paul at ATL Motorcycle asked if I was following the route from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I didn’t know this exact route exists. He pulled it up online, taken from clues from the book and turns out I am by accident. It feels like kizmit. This makes me question my thoughts on a route change. Second he asked if I was going to see the big chicken. When someone asks if you’ve seen the big chicken and your answer is no… you go see the big chicken. Just go.

Map from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance… coincidence!?

Georgia

Hence the reason for waterproof shoes. I need to hunt down a new purchase… this is questionable at best.

If you can’t fix it with duct tape, then you shouldn’t have bought it.

Big Chicken… a really big chicken. 58 feet of KFC glory. By the way KFC changed their name to that because Kentucky instituted a fee for any company using the state name in theirs. Random factoid. Nonetheless, that’s a big chicken. The beak moves.

They sure do chicken right

Tennessee

It was wet. I avoided the rain up until that point. Things went smoothly up until just out past Chattanooga. I stopped at a rest stop, ate some of my smashed strawberries and drank some water. I had the brilliant idea to pour the strawberry juice into my remaining water to add to my refreshment. We’ll address this experiment over dinner. A guy at the rest stop joked about staying dry, an hour later the sky opened up and the drenching began. I completely blame him. After a stop at under an overpass and plastic bagging the pack to keep dry I waited out the most heavy part and got back on the road. Luckily the weather was a nice cool down and a provided a scenic trip through the mountains.

Smoke rises

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Watch out

Talk about picturesque

Talk about picturesque

Hot Chicken

Its in bold because its amazing. I can’t speak highly enough about its glory and majesty. I had to stop in Nashville and pay my friend for getting me the posters from the Hot Chicken Festival on the 4th. It was also a good reason to get some dinner, though I hate riding on a full stomach for a good distance. I get lethargic (an ongoing discussion). Nonetheless, nothing can stop hot chicken from happening… nothing!

Hattie B’s

This was my first choice as its delicious and on the way into town. As you can see on a Saturday afternoon they must add extra goodness because the like was out the door. This moved me to Plan B, a trip to my #2 Hot Chicken spot. Full list to follow.

Pepperfire

As one of the newer three hot chicken joints in town this has quickly climbed my list. They’re the second hottest based on heat intensity but the most heat options for the bold to the cautious eater. Today I went with the Tenders Royale. An order of 3 chicken tenders (hot) overtop a fried pepper cheese sandwich served with pickles and ranch. I pass on the ranch and go extra pickles. The chicken is moist and tender, but incredbly spicy even at the hot level. I can’t get enough. The heat is a slow build but lets you know its there and lingers not excessively, but perfectly so. The peppercheese is ideal. Their own hot pepper cheese battered and fried, the fried take on the grilled cheese sandwich. Pickles are needed touch to pop both the heat and the texture differences and its a perfect combo.

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My experiments into fruit flavored water turned out to be less than ideal. It was bland and just tasted like watered down strawberries. It was also full of berry bits. You can’t win em all. Though with this meal, you’re really just looking to keep the heat in check.

In every bite – the hot chicken, pickle, grilled peppercheese layering is essential for maximum flavor.

 

Today’s Journey

The long ride home

The long trek through wind, rain and cold.

Kentucky

Kentucky is not exciting. I push through as best as possible. Louisville is the high point because it marks crossing the border into Indiana. Though the Brown Hotel downtown makes a delicious Hot Brown sandwich. Basically an open faced turkey and bacon covered in white gravy. Its impressive, they claim to have started the sandwich there. Its worth a stop sometime.  Luckily the rain had stopped minus the occasional drizzle but it was getting chilly and I really wanted to get home.

Indiana

Its about 120 miles to my mother’s from the Kentucky border. Its an easy push when its not 11pm and you’re tired of riding and being set back all day due to weather. I thought this would be an easy stretch, it turned out to be one of the worse. Construction had it one lane, that lane being the shoulder almost all the way to Indy. It was slow going and cold out. I was getting frustrated. At one point I midjudged the distance to a traffic barrel and clipped it with my footpeg. My tiredness was beginning to set in and I couldn’t have gotten home any sooner. 2am I rolled into my mom’s driveway and quickly made my way to bed. Just sheet on top a unmade mattress and I couldn’t have been happier. Home, sweet home.

Today’s Info

Today’s ride: Approximate mileage – 588 miles / Top Speed – 110 mph (this one caught me off guard, I was blinded by the cold at 1am ) / Best Song – “Children’s Story” (by Slick Rick)

Hot Chicken in Nashville as ranked by me:

1. Princes

2. Pepperfire

3. Hattie B’s

4. 400 Degrees

5. Boltons

6. Hot Stuff

I hear there’s some new ones that have come into play so the list may continue. But its hard to beat the original, Princes is a thing of legend and the extra hot is a whole new terrifying experience unlike any other. Rocky’s Chicken Shack in Asheville, NC is pretty solid too.

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Highs and Lows – Unexpected Setbacks

Here We Go Again…

Another day, more problems. So the exhaust that was reported as destroyed in yesterdays post made for an exciting start to the day. First I called every motorcycle salvage yard in Atlanta. Just so you know, they’re all closed down for good. Then I randomly called shops and searched online for something that would help. Eventually my efforts resulted in this piece of work you see here. Though with my adventures there’s always more story to be told…

Lukcy Exhaust

Matte black, but banged and dinked. It’ll work, it’ll work.

“You see things vacationing on a motorcycle that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle that frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scent, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”

Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This is why i like to ride. Breathing in the life of the road. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good road trip in a car, but what I love about it is different. I love blaring my radio and singling Temptations songs at the top of my lungs. I love being able to pull off and lean the seat back to nap if need be. I love the compactness of the world that is created within the space of my vehicle. On the motorcycle its different, its expansive. I love the wind against my face and the sun on my arms. I love the interrupted silence of solitude that seems somehow both ever-present and unattainable. I love that it’s not easy or leisurely but an active experience that seems to grow with every mile not get shorter as I reach ever closer to the destination. I love the culture of brotherhood and sisterhood formed amongst others on the road. It is the separation between the two worlds that makes riding a motorcycle part of who I am and will always be.

Today’s devotional, reading and experiences made me think of relationships. We have many kinds throughout our life, some casual others deep and intimate. What is similar between them all is that we seek to form some connection with the other person and look to exchange some form of communication that can effect us somehow, on some level. What differs is the degree of that effect, some glaze over like the coating of a donut while other cut deeply like a sword cutting butter. (Excessive, maybe.) Though all of them take the laying of roots and overtime strengthening them to form something unique and special to us. Some will only last a short time and others seemingly forever, but ultimately we choose which. Today I questioned those relationships, why do we maintain some and let others slide. Why do I feel guilty for things beyond my control. Is that a sign of my own weakness and desire to please or is it a sign of the importance I place on those bond and a desire to respect them. I don’t really have an answer for any of this. I did randomly go through in my head and think about the life long bonds that I have with people, some who I never expected and others that it was clear from the start. I’m thankful for everyone of them. They’ve all made me a better man. They have helped in building a bridge between us that allows for not just exchange but increase of self and potential. Even ones that haven’t gone as planned I’m thankful for. The experiences that have made me a more thoughtful or learned man, a better understanding of my own needs, wants and what I can offer. I guess what I’ve learned is simply that there are no unimportant relationships, no matter what level they may reach. Each grants you something singular and unique, waiting for the moment when you’ve gained or given what you were meant. I say this because I hope I can honor them as they deserve, my friends, family, partner, whomever it may be I hope that I can always live up to my end of the deal.

Day Two

So the bike is still down and I’m still in Atlanta. After hunting down an exhaust in Lennoxville, GA… the middle of nowhere. We picked it up and prepared to venture into the world of impromptu repairs. I quickly decided that I did not have the necessary items and would rather pay someone to install the new exhaust versus buying tools and leaving them behind. So after departing the small town and from M&M Motorcycles we aimed for Atlanta and the shop of Atlanta Motorcycles and Repairs, scooters and motorcycles as far as the eye could see in this urban body shop. Everyone was great, I can’t talk up their service enough. I would highly suggest them if anyone needs to repair or purchase in ATL. Nonetheless after a few short hours of cool down and install things we nearly complete. I had wandered to Verizon while waiting and charged my phone, got some new tech and also took a stroll for a smoothie and Home Depot. At about the two hour mark I headed back to the shop and things were looking up. They completed the repair, adjusted my finicky mirrors and had he on my way for an hour of labor. But alas the hour was upon us for failure.

Saviors of the day

After heading back to grab my bags and pack up the mule again there were oil spots beneath the bike, new oil spots. This very quickly alerted me that a new leak had sprung up. After some examination it didn’t appear to be overflow and was most prevalent when the bike was on the kickstand. My though and hope being that when the exhaust was installed something was simply knocked loose. So with only a few minutes to spare the race back to the shop began, hoping to arrive prior to their 7pm closing time. Take note… at 6:45pm in Atlanta I don’t think you could get next door in 15 minutes. After fighting the post work commute traffic we arrived a few minutes after close, running on fumes and feeling immensely  disappointed. The decision was upon me; make the run toward Indy and hope this is nothing serious or play it safe. I’ve decided the latter. They reopen at 10am, I’ll be waiting and hopefully be on the road quickly.

This has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench in the first days itinerary as I’m supposed to ride to Minneapolis on Sunday morning. Today should have been the day I met up with my ace and rode into some trouble with his lady friend, all on our two wheels. Tomorrow one of his sons was to be my passenger for the Indianapolis Black Expo Park and Ride Event. With a number of other riders from around the area we would have rode throughout town and all ended up downtown and fraternizing for the rest of the afternoon experiencing the pure camaraderie of motorcycling. I would have gone to dinner or breakfast with my family and had some needed home time. I could have caught up with a friend and laughed the night away. Instead here i am, preparing for at best a late arrival in Indy tomorrow and an early jump the next day for Minnesota. Here i am pondering a route change for the entire first stretch of the trip to accommodate lost money and time. Here I am sitting while oil continues to pool on a parking garage floor.

So this my friends has definitely been the day of mixed emotions. While most of this and the rain storm that now engulfs the entire city I’d count as my lows for the day. Though here are some glimmers of highs that caught my eye and earned a snapshot.

Highs

Most of all this is pure eye candy that I found at the bike shop. Enjoy the batch of photos.

Old skool in white

Yamaha got the blues

Cafe Racer in effect

Cafe Racer in effect

You gotta dress for success

You gotta dress for success

Orangina Bobber
Eye Catching 308

Eye Catching 308

Classic Style

Classic Style

Whitewalls for days!

Whitewalls for days!

Deliciousness

Dinner on the other hand was something special. Which on this trip really is for me. I don’t eat lunch usually when on the road or have a significant breakfast because I get lethargic. So most of the time I will try and hit a great local dinner spot. This was no different.

We ended up at Grind House Killer Burgers. Skeptically speaking many burger places are all the same. This one stood out. An exciting but simple menu and a variety of drinks, this was a much needed end to the day. As I rolled in I already liked this place’s character.

Burger Time!

Grindhouse Killer Burgers… this is an ATL stop worth making

Homemade sweet potato chips with a blue cheese dipping sauce. I don’t like blue cheese, I don’t like blue cheese dressing unless its going with buffalo sauce… I loved this dip. Enough said.

Sweet and Delicious

Amazing appetizer at dinner tonight. Good call all around.

My meal was the double burger done “Hillbilly Style’, which meant pimento cheese, chili, jalapenos, onions and chilies. I added a side of onion rings, because they’re onion rings and I have to try them all. The burger patties are slightly bigger than a slider so I assumed a double would be fine, I was wrong. After the huge appetizer of sweet potato chips this double was force. It was hefty and flavorful yet easy to handle. The ingredients were fresh and really popped, the chiles and jalapenos were a brilliant kick and compliment to the pimento cheese. The onion rings were thick cut and lightly crispy battered this concerned me until my first bite. The flavor wasn’t “oniony”, I didn’t know this was possible. It was explained to me that  Viadalia onion is a sweet onion with little to no traditional onion taste. The thick cut onion was a great texture and the crispy coating was a flaky, golden buttermilk inspired batter that pulled the side dish together. Mot onion rings ask for or are significantly complimented by a dipping sauce of some kind. These defied and almost dared you to dip as you’d be missing out on the taste bud dance of joy. By far this was one of the best burger meals I’ve ever eaten.

Dinner in ATL again!

Dinner time! Burger and Onion Rings. Who knew vidalia onions were amazing

 Again, by this point in the day I was ready for a drink. This definitely hit the spot and quenched the thirst. This would be dangerous if I lived here.

Whiskey Lemonade... mmmmmm.

I think the sign says it all. I’m drinking this.

Drinks with dinner

After today I needed a beverage filled with whiskey.

A a whole this meal was awesome. I can’t recommend Grind House enough if you’re ever in the Piedmont / Lindbergh area.

Grindhouse Burger killed it

The Grindhouse double with “hillbilly” style. Chile, pimento Cheese, Jalapenos, Chilies and onion.

Every restroom should have a Star Wars gem hidden somewhere. On the side of the paper towel dispenser was where I found this item that basically equates to a secret wormhole tube in Super Mario Brothers. Especially this image is perfect. Is Luke dropping a deuce, taking a Cleveland Steamer on Degoba, pondering his very existence dn that of his Dark Lord father or is he just carrying around a little green alien Jedi Master and doing flips n stuff. Like those initials I have no idea, but I like it. Overall this night ended well.

Restroom finds are the best

Restroom finds are the best

Tardies, Travesties and Going Fast in the ATL

“it is not the ghost that kills the children, but the governess’s hysterical belief that a ghost exists.”

Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Introduction; speaking on Henry James’s The Turn of A Screw)

Day one has been full of ups and downs but in the end my goal was to get on the road and begin this adventure, to take a risk and do something new and exciting. We so often complain about the way our lives are going and who we have to answer to and how we exist on a day to day basis. There is a broad world out there waiting for those who wish to seize it and absorb all that it has to offer. This can happen in many ways from education to action, but it all takes initiative. This summer has marked a few things for me that I want to change about myself. Trying to be healthier, rehab a bad knee from a feline related injury (ugh, cats), challenge myself professionally and seek out personal happiness and growth. Part of this has to do with learning to be content. I have always had the ability to let things roll off my back when necessary, stress can be the root of evil and hemorrhoids… no one wants hemorrhoids. Anyway, I’m starting a journey of complete well being, I don’t know what path it will take but maybe this long route around the country is a jump start in the right direction of newness in life. I’m a happy man, but I could be happier. In the end isn’t that what life is, making it what we want it to be? The reality could be as simple as our own willpower, life is what you make of it. Nothing more, nothing less. So what not make the most of it… don’t let the ghosts get you.

Day One

So thanks to a meeting at work, installing a belligerent set of pipes, and all around buttoning up the homestead I got on the road much later than expected. Oh, did I forget a dead battery. I guess when you spend two days fixing tail lights you’re bound to drain it when you leave the blinkers running for a few hours. Smooth move exlax. Thank goodness for multiple vehicles and jumper cables. Three hours later than aimed for and one hour later than expected I begin my journey into the void. Oh and yes, that’s a stormtrooper bandana.

Beginning the trip with a promotional plug

Beginning the trip with a promotional plug

I figured a quick stop at the beach for a shot would best express the start of this. That there is the Atlantic ocean gang. It big, its salty, I blame it for killing my grill.

You can't go coast to coast unless actually starting from one

You can’t go coast to coast unless actually starting from one

Today’s ride: Actual mileage – 423 miles (I forgot something) / Top Speed – 105 mph (Sorry Mom… sometimes fast sneaks up on you) / Best Song – “Baby” (by Ghostface Killah)

The adventure begins on a familiar stretch of road

The adventure begins on a familiar stretch of road

Upon arrival in Atlanta it was quickly pointed out to me that my bike looked a little funny. Apparently along the way my exhaust decided it had enough of my shenanigans… I can’t say I blame it. Now the search for a new set begins bright and early in the morning. Three state search, hopefully a salvage yard can help me out if not, we’re tapping the emergency funds a bit early. Here’s hoping the trip has not reached an unexpected conclusion. I really should be upset, but I’m oddly calm about the whole thing. Positive vibes maybe, wistful thinking, maybe I’m just road drunk from all that asphalt.

Discovered this upon arrival. I should really be freaking out way more than  I am.

Discovered this upon arrival. I should really be freaking out way more than I am.

So they’re terrible pictures. I had to left hand it because of a weird shadow and things did not go as planned. I promise to do better. Nonetheless, on the promise of Pork Buns I was talked into this wonderful stop at the Canton House just outside of Atlanta proper. Dim Sum was the choice of the night and we stuffed ourselves on tiny Asian delights. Steamed pork buns are always a hit with me if done well and these were. They also added a sweet fried pork bun which didn’t quite hit my same happy spot. Shrimp dumplings, chicken dumplings, lotus leaf rice, sweet spare ribs and sugar cane shrimp completed our selections for the meal. Lots of water was drank to hydrate from the day and it was perfect to wash it all done. Great dim sum if you’re in the Chamblee area, which also sports a huge multi-ethnic variety of restaurant options as you go up and down Buford Hwy. Canton House does Dim Sum for lunch and dinner as well, both at the same price, that’s a rarity these days.

Canton House

A stop for sleep and a meal. Pork buns and dumplings of all kinds!

Bad pictures make me want to say less. Though my belly and the next two hours of pork bun belches begged to differ. Deliciousness.

Canton House - Atlanta, GA

More shaky food photos from the night. I promise to do better. I blame it on the shock from just realized bike destruction.

For reference I felt it important to note what Black Sugar looked like before the ride began. All dressed out and buttoned up.

Before the upheaval of mildly catastrophic proportions. You can't tell me she ain't pretty.

Before the upheaval of mildly catastrophic proportions. You can’t tell me she ain’t pretty.