Southern Gold – Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia

Leaving the deep south behind, our journey north took us through Mississippi, Alabama, a little bit of Florida and Georgia, where our next big pit stop was planned for Atlanta.

But first of all, there was an opportunity too good to be missed in Dothan, AL – meeting Michael of Special-Ops – a small business specialising in modifying stock Buell mufflers to make them look and sound better. As you probably all know, CB picked up a pretty XB12B before we left Australia, and while being a near perfect machine, the sound of it is rather – well, lets say a little understated for a 1200cc Thunderstorm engine… Luckily, the purchase included a second brand new stock muffler still wrapped in its original package – so modifying the installed system became less on an irreversible undertaking as such. As CB found out that Special-Ops is operating from Alabama, a new waypoint was quickly added to our travel itinerary. So we caught up with Michael and talked Buell bikes over lunch. Its fair to say that CB can’t wait to install the modified pipe once back in Sydney…

Back to the story – we went to Atlanta via Mobile and Eufaula, AL – all up approximately 900 km. The riding was great – first day we went along the coastal highway with amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico, then the green and lush countryside of Alabama and finally, there were corners again! Our tyres started to look rather ‘boxy’ after clocking up so many miles in near-straight lines. However, both Mobile and Eufaula left some interesting memories with us…

Mobile, AL on a Sunday is pretty dead… like New Zealand in the 80s – all shops and restaurants were closed, hardly any people on the streets, and we were struggling finding anything to eat. So we walked around the historic downtown district and ended up in a little inner city park infested with cute little squirrels. We sat down for a wee rest and to enjoy the afternoon sun and it didnt take long a group of locals approached us, offered us some cold water, cookies, prayers and a free hug… well, cant hurt can it? We eventually found a nice little pub that had an excellent and surprising collection of local and international beers as well as seriously yummy handmade pizzas – we highly recommend the duck one.

Eufaula, AL was not lacking in any bizarreness by a long way. Most Americans prefer not to walk be it to the corner shop, post box or even the ATM (they have drive through ATMs here!) unless their car breaks down so seeing two tourists wandering around in the humid afternoon heat was causing a bit of surprise and curious stares. City planning in some towns do not really cater for pedestrians, so many time we encounter sidewalks that lead to nowhere or ended abruptly, forcing you into dangerous road crossings or cross-country detours.

Atlanta, on the other hand was quite something. Primary reason for going there was to meet two of CB’s long lost cousins who emigrated to the States nearly 10 years ago and they haven’t seen each other for ages. Oh, and then there was July 4th/Independence Day – a prime time for gigantic fireworks and being merry. Unfortunately, we failed to join the girls to go into town to watch the show, so Team Berg found a nice elevated spot above a petrol station to watch at least four or five simultaneous firework displays in the surrounding area…

The next day we headed into Atlanta to check out the Martin Luther King Centre which was quite a humbling experience. We knew about the civil rights movement in America but this museum really gave us a clear picture of life before civil rights with segregation, socioeconomic disadvantages and public ridicule – or worse… MLK actually studied Gandhi while doing his PhD, which he then later directly applied in his non-violent campaign for human rights.  It was a humbling experience being at the epicenter of such historic change. There is still a long way to go for non-white people in America in terms of health, education and employment so in a way the civil rights movement continues today.

As we leave Atlanta behind we head north-west to Tennessee-North Virginia to experience the sting of the Dragon’s Tail!


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