I grew up in Savannah, Georgia.  Living in the deep South, the Civil War is something I heard about all the time.  My hometown was presented to Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas present by Union General Tecumseh Sherman on December 22, 1864.  On his march through Georgia, Sherman had passed through areas inhabited by my mother's side of the family...one of our relatives, loyal to the Union, was reimbursed by the government after the war for supplying Sherman's troops.  Fort Pulaski was only a few miles from the house where I grew up.  As I traveled with my Dad through little towns all over south Georgia, I remember seeing the Confederate monuments in almost every town square.  Our family cemetery contains the grave of a Confederate soldier...and the graves of slaves.

Surrounded by so much history, I have always had a passing interest in the War, but recently that interest got stronger.  So, for my birthday in 2004, Lana bought me Shelby Foote's three-volume, near-3,000-page The Civil War-A Narrative.   I stayed up many a late night reading this fascinating book.  As I read, I knew that I had to visit the places that Foote wrote about.  I wanted to see the places where all of these things had happened. 

It sounded like a wonderful excuse for a motorcycle trip.

So I began to plan, and I soon realized that this was going to be BIG undertaking.  While most of the fighting occurred in Virginia, there were battles as far west as New Mexico.  I decided that I needed to break things down a bit.  I decided to concentrate on Virginia, which also put me close to Gettysburg and Antietam.  My riding buddy, Eric, was going to be at his winter home in Huntsville September through December, so that narrowed down the dates.  Fall would also mean cooler temperatures, less traffic, and the possibility of catching the changing fall leaves.

My original desire was to hit the battlefields in some sort of chronological order...to follow the paths of the armies through the various campaigns.  That turned out to be impractical.  Instead, we decided to go to the northernmost site, Gettysburg, and head south.  This would keep us from backtracking so much, plus get the northern sites out of the way before the weather turned...sometimes a week can make a big difference in the weather.

This was a Civil War trip, but it was also a motorcycle trip, so I had to make sure that we got plenty of saddle time on the wonderful roads that wind through the Appalachians.  Eric has ridden a lot of the West, but the East was new territory for him, and I was anxious to show him around.

And, once again, I had a new bike to try out.  As much as I loved my Goldwing (25,000 miles in 18 months), I wanted something lighter and sportier.  On September 21, I took delivery of a 2005 Yamaha FJR1300 ABS.  I started the trip with 720 miles on the odometer, thinking that I would see if it would tour as well as the Wing.


The FJR, ready to hit the road.


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