Last updated 1/20/11
The rain and wind woke me up several times last night. I didn't regret my decision not to camp, but I was starting to regret bringing all the camping gear. Tonight would be my last chance to camp, since I'd be staying at my Uncle's house the next night on New Year's Eve. It's beautiful out this morning though. I walked around the place and down to the beach and took a few pictures before packing up.
The beach was beautiful and the weather very comfortable, mid-60's by 9:30. I had read online that beach camping was still closed at the State Park at the east end of the island, (to the left about a mile in this picture.)
The beach and water looked oil-free to me. I didn't see any floating on the water, and nothing in the sand. There was evidence they'd been working so I expect there was some there at some point. I didn't see any other people on the beach either though.
This is my hotel. The owner lives in the front half facing the beach. My room was in the back of this building, towards the middle. There's a larger building on stilts in the front with more rooms. Mine was $55/night with tax, not bad, and it was clean.
After wondering around a while I figured I'd better get packed up and on the road or it would be dark again by the time I got where I was going, Dauphin Island, Al. So I got everything loaded up on the bike, and hit the starter button. I'd figured out that with this starter, you don't just hold it in and let it crank. If the motor hits, just once, the bendix will pull back, then immediately slam back in, sometimes without the gears meshing. So I just hit it with short bursts, and let it turn over 5-6 times. It's trying to start, but won't catch, I don't think the choke is doing much, even though the cable and mechanism are working. I'm sensitive to not running the battery completely dead, so I have to take breaks between start attempts. In the meantime, one of the cats decides to come with me, and believe me, that would be fine with my wife. She had picked up another stray last time I was out of town for the Barber Vintage Fest in October.
I must have been trying for an hour to start this bike. Getting gas, (maybe to much?), getting spark. I'd take breaks of 5-10 minutes between trying, then one time it just exploded to life. I had one of the cleaning girls, (sorry no picture), come over and blip the throttle while I got my helmet and gloves on, and said goodbye to the cat. Then I hopped on and took off. It would prove to start up easily when warm the rest of the day, and I never stopped long enough for it to get cold. But I was afraid I hadn't see the last of my problems starting this bike in the cold on this trip.
My route for the day, 262 miles, 5 hours, thirty minutes, I don't see that happening. I decided to take a little bit of I-10 to get through New Orleans, across the Lake Pontchartrain and out the north side on into Mississippi. Then I took exit 2 for US90, and I'd keep that road all the way into Alabama where I'd peal off on SR188 towards Bayou La Batre and Dauphin Island.
First I had to get out of Grand Isle, but not before the obligatory picture in front of the sign. The bike had been running abut 20 minutes at this point, and it started right back up.
In Louisiana they don't have draw bridges, they have lift bridges. This is a small one, but some are huge concrete structures. I never saw one raised though.
Now all the way back up out of the bayous, and through New Orleans and across the lake, and I'm on the Mississippi gulf coast. Still no rain the temps cooled to the low-60s, from a high in the mid-70s back in Louisiana. There's a salt mist in the air, and somewhat foggy, at some points limiting visibility noticeably.
I stopped and asked someone to take my picture in Pass Christian, there was a wide white sand beach stretching for miles like this. I figured this must be what Daytona looked like before they built all the condos and hotels. A few miles later down the road in Biloxi I'd be reminded what that looks like.
I stopped here to eat, in Long Beach at Shaggy's.
Nothing fancy, but a good mahi fillet, and pretty waitresses.
They just carve a harbor right out of the beach, build a little rock breakwater a ways out, and they're done. This is a shot of the harbor, to the right is the gulf, the big house up on the hill to the left is on US90, which was running right along the beach until this harbor appeared.
I continued to ride along the coast until the highway curled up towards the north and into the pine flatlands of Alabama before I cut off south on SR188 towards Bayou La Batre. Of course it was getting dark by now, and was starting to sprinkle a little. I tiptoed through all the little towns, stopping to take pictures of some Christmas lights.
Some hometown decorations done up nice on a house in the Alabama bayous.
By the time I'd finally made it to Dauphin Island it was raining and dark. I found my way over to the park on the east end of the island. Camping was going to be $25, I pulled out the iphone and found a hotel on the west end that had a room for $65. Guess I did bring all that camping gear for nothing this time. Last trip I took I camped 9 of 11 days on the road, this time I was 3 for 3 in a hotel. Maybe I'm just getting old, or soft. Next trip I'm camping.
I stopped and took these while riding across the island between the park and the hotel.
I got to the hotel and got a great room on the ground floor where I could park my bike close. Those trips unloading and loading up in the morning had been long the past two days. I relaxed a little and walked over to a restaurant a couple of blocks from the hotel.
I know, not a good picture, but it's the only one I have, and you get the point, it's Christmas, and the lights are on. I had a good dinner of crawdads, onion rings, salad, and a couple of adult beverages since I wasn't riding any more. I still have no idea how I made it through my 20s - 30s - 40s without a DUI, but I don't tempt it anymore.
Well, now I'd made it over half way. If I could make it to my uncle's on St. George Island in Florida the next day, there'd be tools and a garage. There I was going to meet up with my aunt, uncle, and cousins for a rousing New Year's celebration. Another day of great riding in front of me, as long as this bike will start in the morning.