Updated: Dec 26, 2020
Left Savannah today for my first day in the saddle for Big Ride 2020. I'll be traveling roughly up along the Appalachian trail all the way to upstate New York and then due east to Maine and then south along the coast. The plan is to get the last 11 states that I need to get all the lower 48. I was hoping to also chalk up a visit to Canada, which would give me both our international neighbors, having visited Mexico during the 2018 Big Ride, but the border is closed, so no joy this trip. Maybe I can at least get a picture. Ripping through the Georgia countryside with nothing to listen to but the throbbing of Yamacraw's engine, my thoughts, and that constant ringing in my ears from too many blast effects, I got to take in some beautiful, lush, green farmland. It had rained it seems the whole way before me so the air was misty and the road was cool, a nice alternative to the usually oppressive heat of early September. I passed through a handful of little towns, including Louisville, which, believe it or not was once the capital of Georgia. It's a quaint little place, with a good barbecue place called the Hog and Hen, and a little market pavilion in the center of town.
Then it was on to the first overnight stop on the trek north, Athens, "The Classic City" and the home of my alma mater, The University of Georgia.
I know a lot of people who are Georgia grads and Georgia fans and they all love the Dawgs for lots of different reasons. Mine is just a gratitude for all the place gave me.
As a kid who was the first in his family to even finish high school, attending the University was sometimes almost surreal. There were days when I was in awe at the blessing to even be in college at all, much less at the flagship institution of the University System of Georgia. It was not lost on me that God had been very, very good to me. And at the time we had Herschel-get-the-hell-outta-my-way-Walker and were beating the stuffing out of everyone on fall Saturdays, which is always good. I was totally unprepared to attend college, and it often showed...and it was a monumental struggle to graduate. I remember my mom once telling me during my time in quest of that degree that may father was afraid that he might die before I graduated. I replied quite sincerely that I was afraid that I myself might die before I graduated. But I did, somehow, and in the process I learned a lot about love and life. There are some sweet, sweet memories from my time here, and whenever I come back, especially if it's in the fall when the leaves are beginning to turn, or there is a bit of a chill in the air, it's as if I'm a much younger man than I have aged to become at this much later season of my life.
Since none of my folks before me were Georgia grads, I wasn't, as the famous Georgia author Lewis Grizzard said, "bulldog born or bulldog bred," but praise God, when I die, like Lewis, I'll be bulldog dead! Go Dawgs!