"Living the good
life of motorcycles and spearfishing"
Some of you may have wondered why I haven't been writing dive stories
late. Well, believe me, I have started many but then I decide to
go riding and
time goes by without me ever finishing a story. I'm going to try
again, so bear
Earlier this year I got back into motor cycling when I came across a
couldn't resist on a big V-Twin cruiser. It has been 10 years
since I last
owned a big bike.
It was a 1985 Harley Davidson Wide Glide and I put many miles on it
priorities changed for mostly work and family reasons. Now the
shrunk and I'm retired, so what better way to enjoy my retirement. The
it is that I am really drawn to the road and have just returned from a
hiatus through the southeast.
As for the spearfishing, I have been busy at that too and as always,
track our success by occasionally clicking on our 2006 Pictures.
Now, for my latest adventure.... I am a member of the Free Masons
and we just had our National Rally from September 1-4 in Mt. Juliet,
Riders from all over the country converged on the Nashville area for
On my way up, I decided to make the trip interesting so I booked a
cabin at a
place called 29 Dreams
located in Vandiver, Alabama. This is a
resort... no cars allowed. They have 7 cabins and several
primitive camping. A stream winds right down through the middle
property. It is located on Hwy. 25 and nestled on 29 acres.
I got there in the early afternoon, checked and looked the place
operation with friendly people running it. I went back to the
Main Lodge for
a cold beer and a sandwich. One of the owners, Tim, was mailing
cards and his wife Kathy tended the restaurant. I took a few
pictures while we
talked. Tim said that a big group was coming in on Friday but I
their only guest for one night. Cool! I had the whole place
The following morning, got up, had breakfast and headed north. It
sailing until I got near Nashville. The exit I needed to take had
a stand still and I almost had to split lanes before coming to a
from 80 MPH. A truck pulled up beside me, complimented my bike
and ask where
I was going. I guess the out of state tag gave me away. "Mt.
Juliet" I replied.
"I'm heading there myself" was his reply, "follow me." "Great,
Fifteen minutes later, I was taking the exit to my destination. I
spent the next 30
minutes riding up and down the main drag looking for my hotel...
several times. The hotel sign was hidden among some tall trees
and a Cracker
Barrel stood between it and the road. I registered and began
meeting my riding club
buddies as they arrived. This was the way to go and made
so much easier than in a crowded restaurant. I think that there were
more than 38 of us.
Of course we all have acquired nicknames, so that is how we were
I am the Stickman.
Bear, Chilly, Mo, Snot, Stumpy, Onion and the Mt. Juliet Lodge put a
effort into the scheduling of the organized rides and everything went
clockwork. The evenings we gathered around a campfire on 30 acres
of land out
in the middle of nowhere. Member Skydancer and his wife Maid
make me think we've got star qualities among our ranks, with their
playing and singing talents. I'd better get to practicing on my
extend more than what's in the little book that came with before I
next function. I'd love to get in on the jam sessions.
Onion is a guitar picker too.
We went on a nice scenic ride through the hills of Tenn. I can
still picture a
baby goat no bigger than a football in my mind. The only question I
pending is this; "Was that a nuclear cooling tower I saw off in the
distance at one point
during the ride"? We also had just the right amount of
We found a sports bar next to our hotel for some good eating and
That's where Officer Pauly "Onion" Foutch was introduced; another asset
There was a meeting at the lodge on Saturday evening. The Worshipful
spoke then Chilly our Vice President took the floor. A place for
our 2007 Rally
was discussed. The floor was opened for nominations. A
brother from Maggie
Valley nominated Maggie Valley. The discussion that followed
addressed a more
central location. One that would make it easier for our brethren
from the west
coast to attend. Bear announced that we now have members in
overwhelmingly voted to go there but logistics dictated
considered Branson, MO but surmised that there were no members near the
this would be paramount for a rally to succeed. Fat Daddy
Springs, CO and again everyone would have like to have gone there but
lack of members in the area.
Our new mission: Find all the coolest places to go and get some
A vote was taken and Maggie Valley was chosen for Labor Day weekend
2007. I love
the Smokies and will be looking forward to seeing some mountain vistas.
Sunday morning some of us attended Harvest Chapel Fellowship. The
was good and focused on Recovery.
Sunday afternoon we visited the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, which sits on
just above the heart of the city. The rest of the day we mulled
local establishments having a fun time within the limits of the law.
where the local brothers really shined. The visit to Coyote Ugly
made for many
memories. The first thing I see when I walked in was some
brothers in a drinking
contest at the bar. Before I know it, I'm holding a water hose
with a funnel attached
to one end and trying to gulp down a beer in 1.3 seconds. As
dehydrated as I
felt, I figured... easy. Everything was going good and it
was almost gone when
I gulped and the rest went all over my gut. "Not that much though" "I
a little practice, I could do it. Next stop Tootsies... more
fun... find the
The ride back to the hotel started out with Lloyd aka Mongoose, GloJoe,
me. We putted thru town and hit the interstate. I noticed all
weekend when we
were riding two staggered, Papa like to pull by me, horsing it.
Now, he didn't
realize it but inside, I was getting charged. Kind of like
hearing a dive
buddy stab a flounder into the sand. There's a distinctive sound
the hair on the back of your neck stand up... like a pit bull tasting
blood. Get the picture?
Papa and I are following the leader.. looking at the little family of
riding on the back of Mongoose's sled... almost mesmerizing. I
glance over at
Papa... at the same time, he's already seeing I'm edgy. A nod and
Papa smokes the bacon and I sizzle it as we fly by. Open highway,
Since Papa got the jump on me, he must have been 150 ft. ahead of
me. I cranked
it and when I caught him, I'm looking at 120 on the speedo. We
have a good
laugh and settle back down to around 95 until we made the next
exit. That was
a rare thing to share that with anyone. Most of my riding buddies
even like the interstate. I LOVE IT!
Most of Sunday evening was spent at the Sports Bar recapping the
then home to pack.
Monday, just about everyone traveled. I think Big Don and a
couple of others
may have stayed an extra night at Snot's request. I was planning on
same but my spearfishing buddy, Ashton, had a condo rented at Ft.
Morgan, AL and
needed a paying customer... and someone to help kill dinner. I
needed to go.
Some of the Rally pictures can be found by clicking here: FMRC Rally
I left Nashville around 7:30 a.m. and stopped only for gas/water every
or so. I reached Gulf Shores, Alabama about 5:30 p.m. I
didn't stop there. I
figured since I came this far, I should ride on down to the Alabama
and take a picture... or two. From there I went to Monterey's
Restaurant for some good old Tex-Mex, then on to Ft. Morgan to wind
the days ride.
Ashton's brother Sidney showed up about an hour later, driving in
Orleans. We watched Rock Star Supernova and crashed.
Ashton's knocking on my door around 0800. "Mike, time to go
diving". I grumbled
and rolled out of bed. We loaded the boat and launched at the
public launch on Ft.
Morgan. $1.00 into a metal can, on the honor system. Can't
beat that. Dauphin
Island should do the same.
The ride out was nice with 1-2 foot seas and glassy in places.
True to form,
our destination would be over 20 miles out on a sunken shrimp
boat. I would
captain the boat while Ashton and Sidney made their dive on
SCUBA. We throw out
a buoy as a marker. Just before Ashton goes over, he says
"Michael, the ladder
is in the ...???" "Where?" Too late he's underwater by now.
I start looking for the ladder, under the rear hatches, not there.
hatches, not there. In the battery compartment, there it is...
Unknowingly, I had forgotten to take the boat out of gear and the whole
was looking for the ladder, I was moving away from the wreck. "Oh
look at the GPS and I'm 1/4 mile from the divers. I get a
bearing and navigate
towards the spot only to miss it on three occasions. I'm thinking
if they surface and
the boats gone, somebody is going to be frantic and Sid is relatively
offshore diving. I spend the next 20 minutes finding the orange
buoy. As soon
as I pull up, I see a wide swath of bubbles... an indicator that the
Ashton and Sidney popped up unaware that I had been trying to find them
since they submerged. Sidney has an amberjack and Ashton a
Our next stop would be a gas rig about 3 miles away. It was my
turn to do some
spearfishing while they decompressed.
The water was crystal clear and fish were everywhere. The first
thing I noticed
were the many barracuda in the area. I could have shot one but
since we have
a spearfishing tournament coming up on the 15th and 16th, I decided to
maybe get a big one then. Meantime, I dive down and see a school
runners. Most were not big enough to waste a shot on, then a
school of about
eight bigger ones swam by. I lined up and nailed one with my new
titanium speargun... dead on. I pull the fish to me to keep it
from tearing off. A
good bloodline was trailing and a couple of barracuda swim up to
check out the
action. I pass the fish up to Ashton after he takes a picture.
I go back to cover the rig from the outside in. I shoot another
rainbow and later
a mangrove snapper. That ought to do it for tonight's
dinner. Sidney and Ashton
jump in and Sidney shoots a nice barracuda... his first. They
surface a short time
later and we call it a day.
We head back to the dock.
I clean fish while Ashton and Sidney wash the boat. Later we
enjoy a good variety
of fresh seafood and prepare for the next day of diving.
The following day we get to the dock and the wind is gusting. I
request to be taken
back to the condo... I just wasn't in the mood for a bumpy ride
I pack it in and head home.
What a great week it had been!