I participate in an annual “scavenger hunt” for members of the Harley Owner’s Group, called the “ABCs of Touring”. The idea is that participants collect points for taking a photo of their Harley Davidson motorcycle alongside City, County, State, National Park, National Forest, HOG Rallies, Harley Davidson Dealers, etc. Participants get 1 point for each photo. The rules are fairly straight forward. For cities and counties only 1 point can be received for each letter in the alphabet. So, if the city “Atlanta, GA” is included in one of the photos, then no more cities starting with the letter “A” can be included. The signs in the photos must be “official signs”, and all that really means is that they need to be put up by the state, city, county, etc. “Bob’s Pizza Palace” wouldn’t count.
I decided to take a few days off of work this past week and try to collect some points while also doing one of the most ambitious rides I’ve ever done since owning my Harley. 1,000 miles in two days. To some, that’s not a lot of miles. To me, well, it is. Especially given all the bad weather I ran into along the way.
Day 1 – My plan was to drive from my home in Melbourne, Florida to Albany, GA. However, I was not going to take the straightest and most direct route to get there. Remember that my goal is to collect points. There are a few national forests in my state that I did not already have, so I needed to work them in. Apalachicola National Forest was the first.
Most of the first day, although overcast and slightly cool went well. About 10 miles east of Tallahassee, Florida it started to drizzle. I pulled over and stopped underneath a highway overpass. I put on my rain gear and then got back to riding. Upon arriving in Tallahassee, I immediately turned South and headed for both Apalachicola National Forest and Wakulla County (2 important points). As soon as I got those two photos wrapped up, it was time to head Northwest towards Quincy, Florida.
This was my last stop in Florida for the day. Heading out of Quincy (so I thought) I headed for the Georgia state line. After about 15 miles of driving, I stopped and checked my iPhone to see where I was located to only find that I was driving West! Wrong direction! I put together a quick plan to get back on track and headed Northeast and entered Georgia. My first sign in Georgia was Decatur County.
My real goal for this trip was to try to get the 2 “Q”s. That would be Quincy, FL and Quitman County, GA. Once I got into Georgia, it became a struggle to remain on the correct state road that would drive me in the right direction towards Quitman County. Eventually I made it to only find that the “Quitman County” official sign included the name of the one major city in the county, “Georgetown”.
No matter, that’s what Photoshop is for! I can remove the “Georgetown” from the sign and nobody will be the wiser. Shortly after entering Georgetown I took a turn West and crossed a causeway and entered the great State of Alabama. Roll Tide Roll!
A quick u-turn and I was headed for Albany, GA. Along the way I would collect several more points including 3 more counties. By the time I arrived in Albany, GA I had collected 18 points in one day and been travelling for about 12 hours. I was beat. My knees and back were aching like crazy.
Day 2 – Right off the bat, rain! Luckily I had a rain suit, but I didn’t have boot covers or a face shield for my 3/4 helmet. The hour drive to Tifton, GA was pure hell. I took a serious beating from the hard rain drops, but finally arrived at the Tifton, GA Harley Davidson dealership. I arrived about 20 minutes before they officially opened; however they were nice enough to allow me to come inside and buy the near gear that I needed (a face shield, new dry socks and rain boot covers). $90 later I was on my way back home.
Once I got back on the road I realized what a difference having that face shield does! It was a lifesaver. I could not have made it home without it. Day 2 was downpour after downpour. I only managed another 6 points on day 2 day, but could have easily collected another 3 or 4. My body was just telling me, stick to the main highways and get home, “I’m tired!” I collected the 2nd National Forest that I hadn’t gotten yet this year, Osceola National Forest by taking the rest stop exit off of Interstate 10.
By the time I got to Jacksonville, FL the weather was getting REAL. You will notice from my next couple of photos that the rain was not letting up. I just stopped at each location and made a quick picture and then got back on the road as quick as I could.
My last photo of the day was “Bruce Rossmeyer Harley Davidson” in Ormond Beach, FL. I didn’t even get off the highway for this photo. I was beat and just wanted to get home. At this point I was literally around the 850 mile mark for 2 days. To make matter worse, the rain was pouring down on me. My bike was dirtier than it had ever been and I was in no mood for this anymore. I just wanted to be home.
Ultimately, I collected 24 points in 2 days and arrived home safely around 4 pm on Thursday. I spent the next 3 days sleeping in till almost noon. It was a great trip and a hard trip, all at the same time. Would I do it again? Probably, but not soon.