Erik Trautman logo crest shield seal

Erik Trautman

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
-- Pablo Picasso

Spanish Moss and Southern Sun

If you’ve ever ridden a horse on a trail ride, you know that there’s usually a point about 3/4 of the way through it that the animal begins to catch the scent of home and becomes more or less completely unmanageable. On my ride into Georgia, I began to see things that looked eerily familiar to me — a sunny pasture here, a muddy riverbank there, a gnarled tree or two — and it made it very difficult to concentrate on enjoying the moment when I was awash with the sensation of Texas, of “home”.

Which in itself is a strange sort of emotion, since Texas really wasn’t my home anymore. I had a bunch of crap in a storage locker and a Jeep stashed in a parking garage in Houston, but otherwise there wasn’t anything physically tying me to the Lone Star state. But I was forced to admit to myself exactly how much I was going to miss certain aspects of life there. I grew up in Massachusetts and I’ve lived in Kansas, Pennsylvania, and New York but none of those places quite inspire the same feelings that arise from a wandering memory of cool rivers and rolling hills beneath a hot Texas sun. I love Texas.

Propelled by such warm thoughts, I really enjoyed my ride towards Savannah, GA. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and I had a great night’s sleep in a hilariously seedy motel. I felt like my hands and toes were finally beginning to thaw out from the abuses they’d undergone in New England. I remembered how absolutely AWESOME riding a motorcycle can be.

My first stop was at a plantation house. It was sort of a major “to-do” item for me to see one, and I was fortunate to happen upon a historic white house surrounded by live oaks draped in Spanish moss.

To continue my journey through the stereotypical South, I took I-95 into Savannah, GA. I must have been on crazy pills because even that seemed pleasant in the nice weather. My first impression of Savannah was not a good one — the highway crosses a long suspension bridge that overlooks the Savannah River and massive industrial facilities that give the whole place the puzzling smell of pepperoni pizza. I’d heard good things about the city but wasn’t expecting much after that dubious entrance.

Thankfully, it turns out that the city’s reputation is well deserved. I had a fantastic time riding down the old-style city streets, flanked by drooping live oaks and historic buildings. Down by the river, the way is paved with cobblestones and the road is alive with tourists and merchants. Above, the side streets are quiet and lined with trees.

I ventured through the Old Town and found my way to the park where that famous fictional man by the name of Forrest Gump told his story. Across the street, a restaurant proudly proclaimed itself to be “Jenny’s” former employer.

The “Hostess City of the South” was a nice blend of historic charm and modern sensibility. It felt like the kind of place you escape to with your significant other for a weekend away from the real world.

I detoured away from I-95 on my way to Jacksonville, FL, and looped west through Jesup, GA. The road ran through timber farms almost the whole way down. If my iPhone camera wasn’t a piece of junk, the pictures would have probably come out better.

I didn’t make it all the way into downtown Jacksonville, but I stopped off at the nearby Inception Brewery for some samples and to get a feel for the place. I love the energy behind micro brewing culture in the US right now — you can feel the excitement surrounding the country’s burgeoning interest in less shitty beer. I’ve had some fantastically interesting flavors.

The following day was a marathon ride down the length of Florida’s Atlantic coast to the city of Fort Lauderdale. Northern Florida still had plenty of forest but that gradually began to transition into swampier looks and occasional palm trees as I got further south. I stopped off in Daytona Beach and was impressed by the number of bikers on the roads. Biketoberfest wasn’t for another week and it was clear that Daytona is just one of those places where you just need to ride.

It was a long and tiring ride south but it got interesting when I detoured off the highway and rode through Palm Springs. I don’t think I’ve yet seen another place in the country with so much wealth saturation. The road took me slowly beneath carefully manicured canopies of palm trees and next to luxury mansions that were barely visible behind their walls of foliage and ornate gates. On the inland side, canals were the highways of the super rich, who docked silly-large yachts next to expansive mansions on the water. The wealthy in Florida live in their own world that seems custom-designed to be completely detached from reality.

I rolled into Fort Lauderdale a bit early and had some time to spend at the beach while I waited for the friend I was staying with to get home. The kitesurfers were out and it made me itch to get out on the water again. I’d taken a lesson in Hawaii but never quite got to the point of proficiency.

Once my camera had become completely covered in a coarse sheen of sand and sea mist, I called it quits and headed over to the apartment for a solid couple of days of football, beer, and great food with a long lost friend from New York.