By Michael Stodola Special to Published May 14, 2011 at 3:18 PM

MEMPHIS, TENN.: Being of the north, we simply don't experience flooding on the scale that many in the south do. Most of the time we just watch it on CNN. And what you miss, while kicked back on your couch, is the smell. Floods smell as bad as "The Quick and the Dead," starring Sharon Stone – they stink. And it's not just water everywhere. And it's not just mud and silt. It's trash – floating islands of trash.

A work boot, broken cabinet doors and millions of plastic soda, bleach and ketchup bottles. It's a cold reminder that we can't do a single thing about what nature spits at us. It made us feel right fortunate. We rode on.

Due to the flooding, the World Championship BBQ Competition known as "Memphis in May" was relocated close to our hotel. We were hungry and male, so we wanted to check it out. Memphis in May is not unlike a Milwaukee Festival except there are hundreds of people busily cooking the best BBQ of their lives. Ironically, you can't buy any of their products. Due to state laws, it's illegal for competitors to sell to the public, so they cook for the judges only.

There are a few actual vendors selling solidly mediocre food, though.

The closest you can get to the contest as an observer is the "People's Choice" voting. It's a building where you pay $5 and get five samples. You try them out and choose your favorite. And if you're anything like us, you stay as long as you can and hustle much more than your fair share. Then you are asked to leave. Whatev.

For being a "World Championship" and being in BBQ country, it was a bit disappointing. Thankfully, we got free admission. And then we rode on.

To me, the best part about this entire trip has been the journey itself. Riding in the pack, swapping stories and laughs with the fellas and eating our way through the south as been affirming. Again, we're met everywhere with honks, waves and casual cheers. Traffic gives way to us (mostly) and people take photos. Good times.

My "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" quote for today: "Sometimes it's a little better to travel than to arrive."

In the morning, we ride to St. Louis.

Michael Stodola Special to
Michael Stodola is the Creative Director at Boelter + Lincoln – a Milwaukee advertising agency. He loves his job, but not as much as he loves scuba diving, crab cakes or playing with his kids. His favorite thing is sneaking off for dates with his hottie wife. Born and raised in Nebraska, he’s been calling Milwaukee home for well over 10 years. After Michael’s impending death, he’d like to return to this world as your next American Idol®.