Day 17: From Birmingham, AL to Bristol, VA

Monday, September 13

We got up early, and were to meet for breakfast when Chris and Elwood both decided to take an early leave - they had figured they could both get home today and there was no stopping them, even for breakfast.

So eventually it was just Andy and I. After breakfast, we went to see the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham. With over 900 vintage and modern motorcycles, this is considered the largest museum of it's kind in the U.S. After the fire, which destroyed most of the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, U.K. (Birmingham seems to be the place to be for motorcycle muesums), Barber's probably is the largest collection of motorcycles on the globe.

Be it the largest or just the second large, it is outright impressive! Just after the entrance, there one of just a few Britten bikes worldwide, a race bike designed and built by John Britten of New Zealand. The Britten incorporates a lot of revolutionary and unconventional ideas, like the carbon fiber chassis. I had read a lot about the Britten, and now I saw one of those just in front of me. Just amazing! And this was just one of approximately 500 motorcycles on display. Each and every of them is not only fully restored, but they are all ridden regularily on the adjacent race track in the Barber Motorsports Park. Appropriate livestock management, I would call that. Needless to say they also had a meticulously restored CB 750 Four sandcast on display.

We could have spent days there, but we had to go on. So we left short after noon, took I-59 again to Gadsen and Boaz. In Boaz, we called up John de la Parra. He and his son Luke came to pick us up and guide us to their house.

Arriving there, John's wife had prepared another Southern feast. John was telling us about his family history which he had tracked back several generations and even back to Europe. Ever since I had heard the name de la Parra, I wanted to ask him if he were by any chance related to the drummer of Canned Heat, Fito de la Parra. "Oh, he's my cousin. He even sent me an email that he wanted to meet you guys while you were in California." I was flabbergasted.

Unfortunately, we had to hit the road again. John and Luke brought us back to the interstate exit, and we took some farewell photos.

Andy, John and Luke

Axl, John and Luke



We had to get going. Back on I-75, through Chattanooga and Knoxville, on to I-81 to Bristol, VA where we ended the day in a Super 8 motel.