Everything was going according to plan. After scoring, I crashed hard and only woke up twice. Once, right before 10:00 in order to head to the lobby and receive the bonus listing and once about an hour into my sleep there was a knock on my door. It was Cletha. She was knocking on the wrong door and was so apologetic for waking me up on accident. I only mention it here because she was so apologetic for waking me up that it was hilarious. I would bump into her a few more times during the rally and she would apologize again and again.
There were no surprises with the bonus list. At this point, we all knew our game plans. I just needed to go back to my room and make some sense in how I wanted to tackle the next few days. I had a few options and looked closely at heading to Austin for some big points, but then I wouldn't be able to make it up to Carson City and Sacramento in time. I also wanted to try and do most of my riding at night through the boiling hot southwestern states. I left the hotel at 11:30pm not completely knowing where I was going. It wasn't cool outside, but it was cooler than the middle of the day by about 10 degrees. I'll take what I can get. A few of us left the parking lot at the same time and headed for Tallahassee for a few minor points, but along the route heading west. I then went up to Montgomery. I bumped into Tom Loftus (7th place finisher) at the capitol. This guy is a pro. He has everything arranged in his top box so when he opens it, his flag just pops open nice and rigid and ready for a quick pick and on to the next. On the way to Montgomery, I had decided to head toward Baton Rouge instead of Nashville, but Nashville was the bigger bonus. I got about 50 miles west from Montgomery in the dead of night and decided to turn around and head to Nashville instead. I ran a bunch of calculations on the GPS and figured that I could do it so I turned around. In a 24 hour rally this would have been a huge mistake, but in an 11-day rally you have some wiggle room to change your mind. The sun was starting to come up at this point and I was feeling great. Got to Nashville with no problems and headed toward Memphis. It was raining through the whole state of TN. I passed my Canadian friend Perry Karsten somewhere between Nashville and Memphis. In the pouring rain, we tried to chatter on the CB, but they weren't working. He's one of the smartest rally guys I know. Always thinking of the angles and so it was good to see him on the same route. From Memphis I went south through Mississippi to touch the corner of Louisiana. This was really strange--as soon as I got across the border in Louisiana there was an empty field with nothing but a drive-up ATM machine. It was perfect. Got a receipt, turned around and headed north. My SPOT does not even show me going into Lousiana because I was there for about 10 minutes. After the rally a few friends said they were going to call me and tell me I missed Louisiana. They thought I may be fatigued at this point and just forgot to go.
Somewhere around here I started to get tired and found a little family owned motel and stopped. I was way ahead of schedule so I decided to bust out the laptop to run some numbers and sleep for about five hours. I brought all my stuff into the room and went to work then realized I didn't have my cell phone. I freaked. I thought I left it at the last gas station or dropped it when I was putting it back in my pocket. I was frantic. I was able to get online with the laptop and found a Verizon store about 20 miles away on the way to Little Rock and decided to get a phone there. I was so crazed by this that I couldn't sleep. I tried to get it out of my head, but kept thinking about all of the information lost and all that data in my phone that I couldn't even think about sleeping. I got up, got dressed, and packed the bike. Before I went to check out, I was walking across the room and kicked my phone. It was on the floor of the room the whole time. I checked out anyway and moved on. $50 for an hour of losing my mind.
Little Rock was next. Bagged with no problems. Started to head to Oklahoma City and pulled into the Iron Butt Motel for about an hour. I was running on very little rest at this point, but actually felt pretty good. Curt Gran (5th place finisher) and I were at the capitol in Oklahoma City at the same time. We rode side-by-side through town and chatted for a bit. He looked fried. I told someone that story recently and they said Curt looks that way all the time so I guess it was a normal look for him. Steaming west on I40 across the top of Texas. It was mid-day and broiling. It was dry and hot and miserable. You could see those heat vapor thingys wafting across the highway. There is not much to see along I40. It felt good to see a few cars as I went through Amarillo and I was feeling great about the rally at this point. Only a few days left and the plan was coming together for me to have a monster leg. I had those day dreams of being on the podium at the finish. Things were about to change. I got about 30 miles west of Amarillo when....