"Living the good life of motorcycles and spearfishing"

Some of you may have wondered why I haven't been writing dive stories as of
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
with me.

Earlier this year I got back into motor cycling when I came across a deal I
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 before my
priorities changed for mostly work and family reasons.  Now the family has
shrunk and I'm retired, so what better way to enjoy my retirement. The short of
it is that I am really drawn to the road and have just returned from a two week
hiatus through the southeast.

As for the spearfishing, I have been busy at that too and as always, you can
track our success by occasionally clicking on our  2006 Pictures.

Now, for my latest adventure.... I am a member of the Free Masons Riding Club
and we just had our National Rally from September 1-4 in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.  
Riders from all over the country converged on the Nashville area for our
inaugural event.

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 motorcycle only
resort... no cars allowed.  They have 7 cabins and several campsites for
primitive camping.  A stream winds right down through the middle of the
property.  It is located on Hwy. 25 and nestled on 29 acres.

I got there in the early afternoon, checked and looked the place over.  Nice
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 out membership
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 would be
their only guest for one night.  Cool!  I had the whole place to myself.

The following morning, got up, had breakfast and headed north.  It was smooth
sailing until I got near Nashville.  The exit I needed to take had traffic at
a stand still and I almost had to split lanes before coming to a complete stop
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, thanks!".  
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... passing it
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 remembering everyone
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 introduced.
I am the Stickman.

Bear, Chilly, Mo, Snot, Stumpy, Onion and the Mt. Juliet Lodge put a lot of
effort into the scheduling of the organized rides and everything went off like
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 Marion somehow
make me think we've got star qualities among our ranks, with their guitar
playing and singing talents.  I'd better get to practicing on my harmonica to
extend more than what's in the little book that came with before I attend the
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 guess
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 "whizzer" stops...

We found a sports bar next to our hotel for some good eating and socializing.
That's where Officer Pauly "Onion" Foutch was introduced; another asset to our

There was a meeting at the lodge on Saturday evening. The Worshipful Master
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 Hawaii.  Everyone
overwhelmingly voted to go there but logistics dictated otherwise.  We
considered Branson, MO but surmised that there were no members near the area and
this would be paramount for a rally to succeed.  Fat Daddy mentioned Colorado
Springs, CO and again everyone would have like to have gone there but again...
lack of members in the area.

Our new mission:  Find all the coolest places to go and get some new members

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 service
was good and focused on Recovery.

Sunday afternoon we visited the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, which sits on a hill
just above the heart of the city.  The rest of the day we mulled around the
local establishments having a fun time within the limits of the law. This is
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 think with
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, Papa and
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 that makes
the hair on the back of your neck stand up... like a pit bull tasting fresh
blood.  Get the picture?

Papa and I are following the leader.. looking at the little family of pigs
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 it's on.
Papa smokes the bacon and I sizzle it as we fly by.  Open highway, plenty of

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 here don't
even like the interstate.  I LOVE IT!

Most of Sunday evening was spent at the Sports Bar recapping the weekends events,
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 doing the
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 Pictures

I left Nashville around 7:30 a.m. and stopped only for gas/water every 130 miles
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 Point bridge
and take a picture... or two.  From there I went to Monterey's Mexican
Restaurant for some good old Tex-Mex, then on to Ft. Morgan to wind down from
the days ride.

Ashton's  brother Sidney showed up about an hour later, driving in from New
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. Front
hatches, not there.  In the battery compartment, there it is... thank goodness.

Unknowingly, I had forgotten to take the boat out of gear and the whole time I
was looking for the ladder, I was moving away from the wreck.  "Oh crap!"  I
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 green at
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 divers are

Ashton and Sidney popped up unaware that I had been trying to find them ever
since they submerged.  Sidney has an amberjack and Ashton a flounder.

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 wait and
maybe get a big one then.  Meantime, I dive down and see a school of rainbow
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 Daryl Wong
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 out. 

I pack it in and head home.

What a great week it had been!