It started innocently enough.  I was wandering around one of the 1800 bike sites when someone said there was a dark blue 2007 Honda Goldwing on E-Bay.  I went to the E-Bay site and sure enough, there was a dark blue Honda Goldwing 1800 with comfort package and navigation system.  It had everything but the airbag.  I really wasnít interested in a new bike, but if I was, this is exactly what I would buy.  Even the price was right $19,400.00.   The bike was located in Arkansas.

 

I looked at the bike for a long time, and then closed the site.  I really donít need a new bike.  My old bike was running great, even with 108,000 miles on it, and I had most of the doodads on it that I wanted.  I was considering adding heated grips, and a few other things because you are never through adding stuff, but I really donít need a new bike.

 

Letís backtrack a little.  In September I always like to try to go to the mountains and go to Wings over the Smokies.  This is North Carolinaís state rally.  While there it is hard to not buy something for the bike, because there are a ton of great things for a Goldwing.

 

I wandered around the venders for a little while and finally decided to buy a new windshield.  I bought it mostly because my windshield had stopped locking in place when you raised or lowered it.  Now it just kept creeping down as I rode.  I figured that if I got a new one, they could fix the locks.  I went to the Tulsa booth and bought a windshield.  I brought my bike inside for them to install it.  While they were working on the bike, I noticed the motorcycle they had on display with all of their products.  It was a dark blue.  I really had not seen this color on a Goldwing.

 

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 Bike at WOTS

 

I asked the guy running the booth who had painted the bike for him, as I was totally unaware that Honda even made this color.  Of course he told me that this was a standard Honda color.  After getting the windshield and GPS mount installed, I stopped by Bushtec to ask about why my trailer was so hard to open.  He said leave it with him, and they would fix it.  I disconnected the trailer from the bike and proceeded to kill a little time while they were fixing the latch.

 

It seemed like everywhere I went; I started seeing more and more of the dark blue bikes.  Wow I really like this color.  My 2001 is a Pearl Blue and I knew that if I ever traded it would have to be for another blue color.  Now I have seen a color I really like, but I donít need a new bike.

 

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 Bike at WOTS

 

Now fast forward to the last week in October.  This was when I saw the bike on E-Bay.  On Saturday October 27th 2007, I was working at the fairgrounds.  This was the Saturday before the Fair was to open on Tuesday.  I worked until around 2:00pm before heading for home.  When I got home, I showed Elaine the bike on E-Bay, and the only thing she said was, ďWell, youíve always wanted to go to ArkansasĒ.  I guess this was tantamount to saying she did not have a problem with me buying a new bike.  Notice how you can read anything into a comment that you want.

 

Within one hour I decided that I should go see Wilson Holloway at Honda of Albany.  I took a copy of the E-Bay ad and gave it to him and asked if he could match the price.  He said he could but he would have to see if he could find one that someone would be willing to part with.  Keep in mind the 2008 models had come out two months earlier and we are now trying to locate a leftover 2007 in a specific color.  Since it was Saturday, he said that he would have to start looking on Tuesday when he opened back up.

 

Wilson is a friend of mine, and I would rather do business him than someone a few hundred miles away.  Also, I have always felt that his dealership had taken care of me in the past, and would continue to do so in the future.  I knew Wilson would do whatever necessary to put this deal together.  So now I am waiting.  Sunday comes and goes, Monday does the same, but Tuesday is coming on fast.

 

The fair starts on Tuesday, so I donít have a lot of time.  I manage to stop by Honda of Albany on my way to the fairgrounds.  Wilson said he hadnít had time to look much yet.  He did say that there wasnít one in Georgia.  He also said he could only search a couple of states at a time, and that the searches took a little time. 

 

When Wilson arrived at the fairgrounds (he is also in the Exchange Club that runs the fair) that afternoon, he didnít have any good news.  He has been unable to find anything yet, so he has got to widen his search.  He wants to look as close to home first, but that is not getting any results.  The way I understood it, he couldnít search but three or four states at a time, and each search took a while to complete.  So you pick a few states, search, and then pick some more.

 

Now, I have no idea where this thought came from, but all of a sudden I decided that if I was going to buy a bike, it would have to have everything that Honda puts on one at the factory.  That means I decided to get him to look for one with an airbag.  Yea, you heard right, an airbag.  Oh, you didnít know motorcycles came with airbags?  Well Honda came out with first motorcycle with an airbag in 2006.

 

My reasoning for getting an airbag.  When I got my 2001, I spent the extra money to get it with ABS brakes (antilock brakes).  I did not figure I would ever need them (after all I can out think any situation, right?  And I have been riding for years without ABS), but it would be nice to have them if the need ever arose.  That need arose almost immediately.  I was daydreaming as I am apt to do and I looked up and there was a car stopped in front of me.  I grabbed every bit of brakes and by golly that bike stopped just feet from the back of the car.  No slipping, no sliding, and no smoking tires. As I racked up the miles on my bike, the need arose many more times, I daydream a lot. 

 

One day my ABS brakes decided to to quit working. While they were not working, my riding style seemed to get me in trouble often.  I almost ran over a couple of cars before getting the brakes repaired (see ĎHow I almost didnít get to Buffaloí).  The same logic hit me that if I ever needed an airbag I would have one.  There can be nothing worse than hitting something, and as you casually fly over the handlebars, thinking ďI sure wish I had an airbagĒ.  So if that situation ever arises, I now have an airbag.  Now, I am not saying I want to test this airbag, but I do have one.

 

Now he has to start over and search again.  Wednesday morning, no results.  Wednesday afternoon, no results (obviously I am looking for him to drive into the fairgrounds so I can check with him).  I was probably becoming a pest, but I am the type that when I want something, I want it now.  I donít want to order it and wait weeks for it to come.  I believe it was Thursday afternoon when he got to the fairgrounds and said he had finally found one in Abilene Texas that the dealer was willing to part with.  It would be Friday afternoon before he finally gave me a price.  Wait a minute, something is not adding up, but at the moment, I have a fair to help run, so I will have to do my research in the morning..

 

Saturday I have time to go see Wilson and hash out the price and what he would give me for my 2001 with 108,000 miles on it.  We had already decided that the price was to include the CB, moving my chrome rims and trailer hitch over to the new bike.  We made a deal that I was happy with, other than the amount of trade in, but I guess I got what I could for a 108,000 mile bike.  When you have negotiated a good price up front, you are not going to get an inflated trade in price.  Now it is time to really get serious about how to get the bike. 

 

The bike canít be shipped (for a reasonable price), (as it turns out, I probably could have shipped it for less than it cost me to go get it, but then I wouldnít have the pleasure of riding it) as the bike is on the showroom floor ready to ride.  The time it would take for them to get it to me was also a problem (refer to above statement about being a pest, I want it now).  That means either Wilson has to send someone to get it, or I have to go get it.  This was probably the easiest decision I was going to make, as there is no way someone else is going to get my bike and deny me the opportunity to ride it home.  So there you go, I am going to Abilene Texas.  Now I have to figure out how and when.

 

When became easy when I looked at the weather forecast for the weekend after the fair ended.  The weather is going to be clear and the afternoon temperatures are going to be in the 60ís and 70ís. It looks like November 9th, 2007 is going to be a great day to go to Texas. 

 

When I started thinking about how I was going to get to Abilene, I checked the airfare from Albany to Abilene.  This was the week of the fair. At this time it was running around $275 to $300 dollars.  By the time I had finalized everything the airfare was going to run almost $500.00.  Plan B:  I can rent a car for $85.00 with no mileage charge.  I can drive out on Friday, return the car to Hertz, and catch a cab to Maxís Honda, pick up the bike and be home on Sunday.  This looks like the best plan so far. 

 

I made all of the arrangements and made my plans to be in Abilene at whatever time the rental agency opened.  This turned out to be 9:00am local time, or 10:00am my time.  I only had 24 hours before I would be charged another day.  This is why I waited to pick up the car until 9:00am on Friday, so I could return it within the 24 hour window.

 

While visiting one of the 1800 boards, I asked a question about the operation of the Navigation system.  I donít remember what the question was, but after a few replies, a guy came back with the response that he would meet me at the dealership and go over the Navigation system with me.  After a few conversations with Mike McAuliffe from Abilene Texas, he told me he would be glad to pick me up and take me to Maxís and introduce me to the folks there.  It seems he has bought a couple of bikes from these folks.  Wow, I canít believe how great the folks are that frequent the 1800 boards.

 

Now my plan has come together and it is time to put it into action.

 

                                  

Rental Car                                                                                               Check out the Leather & GPS

 

Melissa took me to the airport Friday morning to pick up my rental car.  They gave me a Chevrolet Trailblazer, which turned out to be a very comfortable car.  It was only a year old, and very clean and even has leather interior.  It even has a navigation system which was put in by Hertz.  I had already programmed my GPS so I knew where I was going.  By 9:30 I am on the road and headed to Texas.  It was a long day of driving.  I had decided that Fort Worth was a good place to stay that night, and had already picked a Hampton Inn, so I called and made sure they had a room for me.  They did, so I programmed their address into my GPS, and headed out again.  I arrived at around 9:00pm and went to Outback and had a steak and a few cold beers.

 

I picked Fort Worth because the final hundred and fifty miles were easily doable in the morning so that I could be there when the car rental place opened at 9:00am.  I arrived at the airport around 8:30 and checked but the Hertz place hadnít opened yet.  I got the car unloaded and went back inside to wait.  The girl was there early, so she checked me out and I headed back out to look for my ride.

 

As I walked out into the parking lot, I looked up at the upper level and there was a police car sitting there.  I had gotten the idea he was in some sort of law enforcement from his e-mail address.  I waved at him, and came around and picked me up.  We had a good conversation on the way to Maxís.  True to his word, he introduced me to the manager and some of the other people.

 

Let me say right here that the people at Maxís Honda were great to deal with.  They treated me like I had bought the bike from them and not that they were doing a dealer trade.  They made sure I had a place to put some of my stuff (foot pegs, tag, & etc.).  They went over the bike and made sure it was full of oil and all other fluids were correct.  I was getting anxious now and wanting to get on with the ride.  Maxís is located at 941 N. Mockingbird, Abilene Texas.  They handle Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Polaris.  If you ever need them, call them at (800) 777-0214.

 

I donít think I was thinking very clearly when I packed for this trip.  I am beginning to wonder if I have enough space for all of my luggage, and my cooler.  I am stuffing stuff in both saddlebags and even the trunk is full.  I am used to putting my camera in the right pocket on my old bike, but on the new bike, there is no right pocket.  Because of the airbag, some of the switches have been moved to this location.  The navigation control, headlight control, and the shock pressure are all on the right side.  I did have to leave one of my travel bags behind, because there wasnít room for it.  Okay, I am finally loaded and ready to go.  Oops, which way do I go?  I haven figured out the Navigation system yet and it seems to have a mind of its own.  I finally pull off in a church parking lot and get a city programmed into it.

 

                            

Dash with GPS                                                                                           My New Bike (ain't it purdy)

 

For the next hundred miles, it seems I am on the side of the road programming the GPS as much as I am riding.  Boy I wish I had a 12 volt outlet to plug my other GPS into so I can figure out where I am.  I am determined to stay on the back roads as much as possible until I put a few hundred miles on the bike.  I want to give the motor a little time to get broken in a little.  I do not know if you need to break a motor in like you used to, but I decided to take it easy for a little while.  Of course the first few hundred miles I spent playing with all of the buttons and new gadgets that the bike had.  I turned on the heated grips, the heated seat, played with the radio, and did what I do best, ignore where I am going.  There was very little traffic, so I did not have to worry about running over someone else.

 

Before I left to come out here, I made a list of towns that would take me through Texas eventually ending up going north of Houston and across to I-10.  I have to stop often to input the next town into the GPS.  I came to one spot where I was going to stop out in the middle of nowhere. There was room to pull off and set the next waypoint in the GPS.  As I was backing the bike up, I overcorrected and down it went on the right side.  A Goldwing will lay over on its crash bars and will not lay completely down, but now I have the dilemma of trying to get the bike back upright.

 

So here I am on the side of the road trying to pick it up.  Yes, I know the proper way to stand the bike back up (I had to do it numerous times with my old one).  Let me interject here, that there are two classes of people who own Goldwings.  There are those that have dropped their bikes and there are those who are going to drop the bike.  Once the bike has leaned just so far, you are powerless to stop the 900 pound motorcycle from lying on its crash bars.   One try; two tries; three tries; and now I am totally give out.  I am standing there looking at the bike and wondering what to do next, when I hear a vehicle slowing down.  I look up and guy in a pickup truck is turning around and coming back to help me.  Together we got the bike back upright.  I donít believe I could have done it without his help.  He said he has dropped his Harley, and knows how hard it is to pick it up.  I am truly thankful for the help and kindness of a stranger.  Make a note:  I have to be more helpful with others in the future.

 

The only damage is my ego and it has moved my highway pegs.  I have no idea where I put the allen wrench I used to install them, so now I have to add one more stop to my itinerary, the auto parts store.  I find one and get a set of allen wrenches, fix my pegs, and head out again.

 

Just north of Houston, it looks like the sky is starting to get a little black.  Normally I would have ridden on and taken my chances with the rain, but it is in the upper 50ís and I donít cherish the idea of riding in the cold and being wet at the same time.  I stop on an off ramp and put my snowmobile suit on.  Just in time, as the sky opens up and the rain is falling.  I am worried that I am going to have to ride a long time in the rain, but in about 45 minutes it quits.  I guess I have ridden out of it.

 

I have been taking it easy so far, and Iím way behind schedule (all of the stops to program the GPS).  I make it up by getting on the interstates and making tracks.  Texas is a big state, and I have grossly underestimated the time it was going to take me to get out of the state.  It is already dark by the time I get to Louisiana.  I know I need to find a place to stay before long, so I stop at a little rest area and get out the map.  I figure that the next big city was Lafayette and that was around 100 miles, so I set my sites on that.

 

I try and try, but there is no way I can figure out how to find a Hampton Inn in Lafayette.  I am standing there beside the bike with a flashlight looking at the map and trying to figure out how to handle this situation, when it occurs to me ďCall ElaineĒ.  With her help, I got a reservation at the Hampton Inn in Lafayette.  She gave the address, I put that into the bike, and I was all set.

 

Another reason I settled on Lafayette is that I wanted to ride Highway 90 down through southern Louisiana.  I donít have any idea why, it just looked like a nice ride.

 

I settled into the Hampton, went to Outback and then to bed.  I usually go to bed early when I travel, because I like to get up early so that I am on the road when the sun comes up.  I left the motel around (EST, my time) and headed out.  I was about the only person on the streets.  As I left town, the fog set in, thick fog, almost like pea soup (like I know what pea soup looks like).

 

The road was nice, there was still very little traffic for a Sunday morning, and the weather was great.  The temperatures were in the middle 50ís starting out and warmed into the 70ís in the afternoon.  Within an hour the sun was coming up and the fog was burning off.  There wasnít a lot to look at, and I wish I had time to take a few of the side roads out to the delta, but I donít have enough time, so I have to keep moving and headed for home.  I stopped to bring my oil level up to the line by eating my normal breakfast at McDonalds.

 

I only made one mistake on this trip, and that was I wish I had taken the route that would have taken me past the Superdome, but somehow I ended up north of that route. While passing though New Orleans, you could see from the highway many places that were flooded back in 2006 during hurricane Katrina, and still have not been rebuilt.  There are still a lot of sad looking areas, and I am sure it is even worse if you get off of the interstate and ride into town.

 

                           

Check out the FEMA trailers                                                             More trailers (we've seen them in our area)

 

The rest of the day was spent running hard across I-10 heading for home.  Gas stations and rest areas were my stops for the rest of my trip.  At one point, I was down to just my windbreaker, but that wasnít until mid afternoon.  The rest of the time I had on my heavy jacket and gloves.

 

The bike ran flawlessly, but then it is a Honda Goldwing. It took about 1400 miles coming home, and I enjoyed every one of them.  Now it is time to start adding all the goodies.  Letís see, fog lights, turn downs, foot pegs, and etc and etc.

 

Of course the last time I bought a bike, Elaine got a new car.  So why should this time be any different.  I guess I am going to have to quit writing, as we are about to go car shopping.