April 12, 2009 GMT
Charlotte and Memphis

Thursday 9th April 2009 – Charleston (by Steve)

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Today was the first full day in Charleston. This is a really nice small city on the coast of South Carolina. There are lots of buildings dating back to the late 17th century which add lots of charm to the city.

From Charleston
From Charleston
We decided to take a bus trip today and so joined the bus at the hotel entrance at 9. Bill our driver was full of southern charm and extremely knowledgeable about the attractions of Charleston. We drove around the city for 2 hours to have its history and attraction pealed back for us.

Talking to one of the other passengers we discovered that the USA officially adopted metrics as their measurement standard in 1981. They teach the kids at school all about metric, but as far as the general population goes you certainly wouldn’t know it.

At 11 we were dropped at the city markets to look around for an hour. Here we ordered lunch. Now here's another thing that drives me crazy. I order a sandwich (which by the way comes without butter) and the Blackboard price is $4.95. I hand over the $5 and then am told I am 46c short. I point to the blackboard, highlighting the $4.95, to then be told that the displayed prices don’t include tax. So there’s a great idea, display prices that are not the real price so that people have no idea what the real price is.

At 12:00 we are picked up for the plantation part of the tour.

From Charleston
We are driven 30 minutes out of town to the old Magnolia Plantation. We spent the next 4 hours walking through the extensive garden, being driven in a tram around the plantation and looking through the grand old home.
From Charleston
From Charleston
We got back around 5 and went straight to Big K Mart for some quick shopping. Then next door for a look at the bike shop which had some very smart looking choppers.

For dinner tonight we again went into Charleston. There are loads of restaurants, all of which seem to be full and even have waiting lines. We found a parking spot and then continued our search on foot. Again we were lucky. This was the best meal so far on the trip. It was simply suburb. All three meals were just delicious. Great value, great service. Unfortunately, we can't remember the name to tell you.

Big day tomorrow, we are going to try and drive to Memphis, 11 hours. Not sure if we can do it, but we will see how we go.

Friday 10th April – The road to Memphis (by Paul)

Well we didn't make Memphis. We were well on track to get there but then we encountered extremely fierce winds. They buffeted me all over the place. One minute they were smashing me from the left and then it would turn around and belt me from the other side. I was being blown all over the place. At one stage I was almost pushed into the side of semi and another time nearly blown off a bridge and into a river. I've never been so terrified, even when I was doing my parachuting training I wasn't this frightened. Not only was it terrifying but it was exhausting. We stopped at one stage for fuel and decided that we would slow down some. Up to this point I had been travelling constantly at speeds between 85-90mph which is 140-150kph. Would you believe it, I had vehicles passing me even at these speeds. I slowed to about 75mph (115kph) for about an hour and the winds continued to grow in strength. Steve pulled over to advise that they had heard on the radio that there was a strong wind and hail warning out. "OH REALLY" What the hell do you think I've been fighting for the past hour or so?" was my response. They wanted to know if we should stop for the night at Birmingham. "Nah! lets go to Jasper" I said. What a dumb assed idea that was. I really wanted to see if we could out run it and possibly make Memphis. Instead the winds got worse and then the rain hit. SHIT!!! I dropped back to 50mph and still fought the thing. I have bruising on the palm of my hands from hanging on. Eventually we got to Jasper and Steve turned into a hotel. Thank F&^K !! I sat on the bike for a minute, absolutely exhausted.

Can you believe it, he has gone downstairs to the gym !!! I'll sit here with my bottle of Jack Daniels. Not even going to have dinner, will crash out instead. I've never been so terrified.

Other than that what an experience !! I rode out a Tornado.

Well, I got roped into going out for dinner by Steve and we found our way to The Saloon (for Pete my son who didn’t know what a saloon is, it’s a pub) with lots of character. We had our “Aussies Across the USA” shirts on. Well, we were greeted by the owners wife (Dianne), then the owner (Pat)and then we became good mates with a mean lookin’ Harley dude (Bungee) who kept on buying us beers. We were given Harley caps, a Greenhorn Saloon Tshirt, stubby holders and then Bungee’s girl started talking to me and told me they were running a Poker Run charity ride tomorrow (Saturday) and they were expecting 100 bikes. She gave me one of their shirts as well.

I’d said to Steve before we went down town that we should wear our shirts. In a small town like this we’re sure to have somebody come up and talk to us. Well I now know what it’s like to be a rock star. :-) Everyone wanted to talk to us and hear our accents. Our standard response is that we don't have an accent, they do.

They had a 4 man band on for most of the night and they were really good. Played some great stuff. The down side of this, was that Pat (the owner) had introduced me to few ladies during the night and as a result I had to put up with them wanting to dance all night. The things you do, when you’re an Aussie in the good ol’ USA.

From Charleston
I reckon we had the best night of the trip so far. But my head would probably disagree with that this morning. So if you’re ever riding from Birmingham to Memphis, y’all make sure you drop in at the Greenhorn Saloon in Jasper, Alabama. They’re mighty friendly folk.

Saturday 11th Apr – I’m going to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee (By Paul)

After a very late night last night and the horror ride of yesterday, I really wasn’t feeling much like riding today. However, partially self inflicted wounds don’t allow for a relaxation of the programme.

After a slow breakfast, we headed back down to the saloon to say our goodbyes to some lovely, lovely people.

From there we headed on to Memphis. It’s only 200 miles today (300k).

Thankfully, the trip was an uneventful one and a fairly easy ride. When we crossed the border into Mississippi, we stopped off at the information centre. The have all these great big Information Centres at the border crossings. Not only are they good for a break, but you can pick up booklets they give you great discount vouchers for hotels in the state. I had a coffee and we had a bit of a look around. Before we headed off, I thought “hmmm, it’s a bit cool today. I’d better slip into the boys room”. So I ducked in and didn’t see the urinals, so what the hell just use a cubicle. I’m walking back out and as I’m going out an old southern woman was walking in. She yells “what y’all doing in there? Yo can’t go in there” Oh Shit!!! Of course who was outside to catch all this.... yep. What’s his comment “I reckon this is going into the blog” So I beat him to it. ;-)

Eventually, we make it into Memphis and grab a bite to eat and then head on over to the Mansion of one Mr Elvis Aaron Presley for some afternoon tea with him.

From Charleston
Unfortunately, Elvis had left the building but we were granted a guided tour of the property, which included all of his cars, motorbikes, his stage outfits and of course both of his planes. It was great to see.
From Charleston

Tonight, we off to Beale Street and hopefully B.B. Kings for dinner.

Posted by Paul Brealey at April 12, 2009 01:39 AM GMT

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