Every eight weeks, I get to make a pilgrimage to the University of Southern Mississippi to take a 3 day in person class for my PhD. The first time I made the trip I took my 1999 Honda Shadow. She did really well on that trip, where I stayed at the Pigeon Forge KOA under the smoky mountains, but because of the torrential rains, I decided to skip riding through the mountain and headed straight for the gulf coast, choosing instead to make a longer trip back home through Orlando. Well, this time around I took my 2022 Pan America, fully loaded, and spent half a day riding through the mountains!
While preparing for the trip, I loaded the bike at least 5 different ways. By the time I returned home 6 days later, I had reconfigured the bike at least 6 more different ways, finally settling in the optimal load here:
I must say, the Pan America performed better than I ever expected! Not only on the road, but also on the dirt trails in the mountain, and in the rain! I would have taken her in the sand, but she was too heavily loaded for me to risk it.
On the way to Mississippi, I checked off two bucket list items. Having met several of the famous Tuskegee airmen in person in 2010, I have always been fascinated and inspired by their story, but had not had the chance to actually see where they trained. So, it was imperative that I visit the Tuskegee airmen museum, and Selma Alabama. One word describes how I felt walking in the same place as Dr. Martin Luther King and the many brave Tuskegee Airmen, AMAZING! I was inspired and saddened at the same time. But The detour was worth every minute.
One of best parts of the visit to Selma was stopping at Mr. and Mrs Dallas’ little BBQ spot on the side of the road, just before crossing the Infamous Edmund Petus Bridge. The ribs were incredible, but the conversation even more so! Wonderful people, and learning that Mr. Dallas was an Army Vet, and that Mrs Dallas had lived in NYC, made our conversation even more interesting! Life is truly about the small moments.
Having made it down to Mississippi, safely, I was fortunate to stay at a hotel overlooking the Gulf. Despite the rain, the view was great!
Class was great, and my classmates and teachers were wonderful! Being able to ride to the school and see so much along the way, priceless! Meeting so many cool people, even more so!
Please check out my instagram for some great videos through the Smoky Mountains and Rock City Gardens in Tennessee on the way back home!