Thursday, July 12, 2018

Today's Ride ROCKED!!!!!!

OK, so this is my blog so I can say this, and if it bothers you, well then you just don't know me well enough by now... but TODAY'S RIDE FUCKING ROCKED!

I mean, I had the greatest day of riding today and it started out with a bear. No, really, I was told that there were bears that wander through the motel parking lots in Gatlinburg, TN in the early morning hours. I woke up this morning, around 6am, opened my curtains, and there was actually a bear walking across the parking lot across the street! By the time I grabbed my cell phone and got outside, he (or she) was gone but it was like, WTF, was that real???

So there aren't a lot of photos today because it was one of those days that is a biker's day made in heaven. I headed out of Gatlinburg running north on 341 to route 25E, which was marked on the trusty Rand McNally (aka old people's GPS) by green dots which says (repeat after me, I think I have said this before) scenic route. I ran 25E through Tennessee into Kentucky and caught Kentucky route 11 north. Between 25E and route 11 north, it was a biker's best ride. Great weather, beautiful scenery, twisting two lane black top that my Soft Tail was made for. No photos could capture the ride. I want to do it again. It was a great day.

Spending the night in Maysville, KY before heading home tomorrow. Love the rides. Every year is a special ride. Every year I wish my Buffalo was sharing the ride. This was one of those rides he would have said, how the fuck did you pick such a great ride? I smiled thinking about that today. I smiled thinking about how blessed I am. I smiled thinking about how blessed we all are. We live in a beautiful country full of unexplored places. Get out and find your adventures. They are everywhere around us.

Peace all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

No Plans...No Destinations ... No Hurries... No Worries

Wednesday Morning... Caught up this morning on several days worth of travels and my gracious
hostess of Asheville, Connie, insisted I go for breakfast. She took me to a local haunt a block or two from her place where we had an awesome meal. We got to talk some more and I truly hope I can figure out a way to work her place into future adventures. I had actual baked apples with real whipped cream on my waffle, which was quite a treat too.

 We hugged and I headed back from whence I came, looking towards a well known biker destination of Maggie Valley, home of Wheels Through
Time motorcycle museum Unfortunately, this was an impromptu portion of my trip and, as it would happen, Wednesday is the only day of the week this folk lore destination is closed. Alas, I headed on towards the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. 

I stopped at the visitors center on the way in, where they had a mountain home site recreation from relocated and refurbished period structures to create what people probably lived in. There was a cabin, a store house for meats and perishables, another building where water would run through from an underground water source, that provided water for drinking, washing and also, amazingly, storing and preserving foods. There were also many other out buildings like a barn to store apples, and a pig shed with actual pigs in there.  

The house on the property actually had a sewing machine similar to the antique one I have in my living room at home so I had to take a photo of it!

I headed on through the park and found an amazing grist mill unlike any I have ever seen. 

All of the old grist mills I have ever seen have a water wheel along side of the mill. This mill, however, is an anomaly. 

For over fifty years, the Mingus Mill ground corn into meal and wheat into flour for the mountain community near Mingus Creek. 

In place of a wooden water wheel, a small steel turbine provided power to run the mill's stones and machinery. Rehabilitated by the National Park Service in 1968, the mill operates during the summer as an historical exhibit. 

This is what our taxes pay for and I am so much for this. I feel that this part of our history must be preserved. It is such a rich part of our heritage.

Heading out from the mill, I followed the road through the park and stopped at every opportunity. What a beautiful national treasure this is. What a gift our national parks are. The temperature slowly dropped as I climbed in elevation. I saw motorcyclists, and families and church buses all enjoying this gift of our park system. The over
looks reminded me of why they call it Smokey Mountain National Park. The clouds hang over the mountain tops and the views were incredible. I thought any minute it would rain, but it didn't.

And all along the way, I was reminded of my last trip through here. Buffalo and I had run the Blue Ridge Parkway for our first time. We had our camping gear and camped in the the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, sharing a camping spot with a couple of BMW riders from I don't remember where... but the trip is etched in my mind and I cried off and on throughout the day, today because this was my first time back here. It may be five years since I
lost that man, but the pain remains. And I am blessed he rides with me and I broken heart he does not. I struggle with the feelings. And I move on, one mile at a time. And one day at a time. 

And I am blessed you all ride along with me. Thank you for sharing my journey. 

Pece all. I head north tomorrow.



No Plans, No

On the Road ... Seeing Old Friends

sunset at Jeff and Laura's place
Monday I headed to Milledgeville, GA via the interstate. And I was reminded why I have become a two lane back road princess. Traversing through Birmingham, Alabama on the interstate and, later in the day, Atlanta, Georgia, on a motorcycle, was intense. The best way to describe the experience was feeling like I was smack dab in the middle of a Mad Max movie! I am pretty sure I wore down several layers of enamel on my teeth grinding them all the way through both cities. 

I was pleasantly surprised when I finally hit Georgia route 16 on my way to see Jeff Nichols and
found in Huntsville, AL
his beautiful wife Laura. Jeff and I went to high school together and probably saw each other last around 1976, when we graduated. Jeff rode his 2004 FLH up to an adjacent town with a little town square to meet me. Jeff and Laura have a beautiful home on a lake in Milledgeville. Home to three colleges, the town I had never heard of was actually a bustling community full of antebellum homes of civil war era and some beautiful old Victorians as well. After a great dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, Laura and Jeff gave me a driving tour of the city, filling me in on it's rich history. We drove back to their place and spent a late evening chatting and catching up with where life has taken all of us over the past forty plus years. Funny how time goes so quickly and the teenage boy becomes a grandfather in the blink of an eye. And all the challenges life throws your way become badges of honor as you deal with them and move on to the next phase of your life. Jeff and Laura are so blessed to have each other and have found their own piece of paradise and I am so glad they shared their home and hospitality with me on this journey. Running the gauntlet of Birmingham and Alabama to get there was worth the visit.

sunrise at Jeff and Laura's place
I said goodbye to them on Tuesday morning and headed north on US 441 towards Ashville, NC to visit with Connie Parker. Connie is the wife of a construction superintendent for Brasfield & Gorrie, a Birmingham based general contractor that RJ Martin Electrical has been lucky enough to work with on two projects in the Cleveland, OH metro area. Danny brought Connie to the open house of one of these projects and she and I hit if off immediately. I promised if I headed south again, I would stop by to visit, and so I did.

Connie made me feel right at home in the Parker's Porch Pub as we sat and chatted until late in the
Connie and I .... kindred spirits
evening. She finally shuffled me off to bed and this morning has served me coffee as I did my latest updates. 

Today I hit the road to parts unknown. I will pull out the Rand McNally and pick a road and ride on. I thank you all for traveling with me via this blog and will update again soon!

Peace all and enjoy life's blessings.

Danny Parker didn't warn me about this driveway!
Parker's Porch Pub

Aerospace and Beyond

Sorry for the lag time in updating. Sometimes on my bike trips I get to having so much fun or
Pathfinder Shuttle Stack
doing so much riding or visiting with friends that time slips by until I realize I have a butt load of things to catch up on! It's easy to settle in to an update sitting in a hotel room alone, but not so much sitting in somebody's living room catching up on things.

Sunday, July 8th, Cousin Kimmie and Gary and I packed up the scoots again for another day ride. This time we followed the green dots on the Rand McNally around a huge lake to the southeast of Hunstville, before circling back for lunch at an awesome microbrewery in Hunstville.

Saturn V as you see it entering the hall
Then it was on to the US Space & Rocket Center for an afternoon of exploration and education. As soon as you park you can't help but notice the Pathfinder Shuttle Stack. This is the only full shuttle stack in the world and was the first orbiter ever built. It served as a non-flight test vehicle. We enjoyed a beautiful I-Max video called our Beautiful Planet before enjoying the endless displays and inter-active exhibits the massive campus has to offer. This is home to the Space Camp since 1982 and the facility was teaming with youngsters proudly wearing their uniforms and badges associated with the camp. With Kimmie
and Gary as my host guides, we wandered through the facility. Fortunately, since they have been there so many times, some of the displays had been changed, offering them some new experiences as well. The most impressive display by far is the full size Saturn V rocket mounted the length of the ceiling in the Saturn V Hall. This rocket was designed and built in Hunstville, AL. Hunstville is home to an expansive history of the US Space program, which I was totally unaware of.

Kimmie and me in the space station!
The displays included rockets, explanations of not only how they worked, but also how they were developed, and what failures they endured to get to the final product. You could see engines up close and the details involved with preparing something to go into space. The intricate details such as the tie wires used to secure nuts into place so they would not vibrate lose, was amazing.

They had an actual lunar rover on display as well as an explanation of the thoughts and theories involves with building it and designing the fold away options.

There was a space station you could actually walk through, that showed how the sleeping and
One of the many inventions in the invention hall
exercise areas actually were. The treadmill was mounted to a wall with tethers (that we also saw being used in the I-Max movie, which was filmed primarily from the space station) since there is no gravity, the astronauts can run on the wall!

There was one room devoted to various patents, which included a display of the original object along with the drawings or schematics explaining the concept and a description of the item. Some of the items became every day things that we still use today; others were vary unique and probably faded into
obscurity before the patent ink ever dried!

There were several capsules, both training and real, on display, as well as rockets and planes outside. Everything gave you a true sense of the magnitude of our space program and how far things have advanced; just like in twenty years, children won't know what a space shuttle was.

 We finished up our day with a stop at the Harley shop before heading back to rest for the week ahead.

Thanks so much to Kimmie and Gary for their awesome hospitality. They have a beautiful home that they have shared with me now for a second time. I feel so fortunate that my Buffalo gifted me with this part of the family and cannot wait to come see them again.

Peace all and enjoy the rest of the photos.

see below for what this is... and check out the tie wires!


Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Best Laid Plans...

Greetings from Decatur, Alabama!

After spending a night in Clarksville, Tennessee, I would head south on the Interstate and ride through Nashville. I am not one to enjoy big cities on my motorcycle, so I stayed on the highway through the country music capital. I got through there early on Friday morning, so traffic wasn't too bad. However I can tell you that those folks in Tennessee don't feel any necessity to follow those speed limit signs! LOL

About 75 miles out of Clarksville, I spotted an exit with a Harley shop and a Cracker Barrel and decided to grab some chow and check my oil (and yeah, look at tee shirts, too, ok?). At Cracker Barrel, I reached into my saddle bag for my cell phone phone! I searched frantically, then remembered I had taken it out of my pocket before leaving the hotel, to use the bathroom one last time! Those who know me, know that I carry two phones, one smart phone and one little flip phone and this time, having that little flip phone came in damn handy! I called the Fairfield Inn and spoke to Melinda, who went to my room and found my phone. I then spoke to our office angel where I work, Mary G., who made arrangements to have
my phone Fed Exed to my destination in Decatur. And I found my phone in a box on the porch Saturday afternoon! Thank you ladies. One disaster averted, but there was more adventure to come.

Saturday morning after coffee with Cousin Kimmie and her gracious husband, Gary, as my hosts for the weekend, we were headed out on the bikes for a day ride. Friday night we had checked out routes and had it all figured for a scenic ride up to the Rattle Snake Inn for lunch, then a visit to the Music Hall of Fame near Muscle Shoals. We rode some beautiful, scenic two lane black top, stopping a couple of times for map checks, before finding ourselves on the last leg up to the Rattle Snake. 

I was watching my gas gauge as I knew I was getting close, but had a
the view from our table
least 50 to 70 miles left. Gary had assured me at our last stop that he was good too. So I was a little surprised when he abruptly pulled into a rural gas station with ancient pumps. And as we studied the situation, he informed me that he was almost out of gas. Well, as luck would have it, so was this particular gas station! And thus began an hour and a half ordeal of trying to get some gas to get Gary and Kimmie to the next working gas station. Calls to Geico's roadside service were useless and we almost had it arranged with my AAA Plus until they informed me that the gas delivery wasn't included for motorcycles as my Plus plan wasn't the
Cousin Kimmie, me and Gary
Platinum plan that covers motorcycles. WTF .... anyways, about then, a local boy comes wandering up, we discuss our dilemma and he informed us that a buddy is bringing him gas because he ran out in his pick up truck up there too. We piggy backed off of his gas delivery, fueled up and finally headed on for lunch at the Rattle Snake. 

Food was "OK" after waiting nearly an hour after ordering, but it was worth the visit. By the time we ate, then gassed up, it was look late for the Music Hall of Fame and we headed back to the house, skirting the typical afternoon thunderstorms. Saw some beautiful rainbows and just got a wee bit
the taxi to the restaurant
wet on the way. Sorry the pictures aren't better. But the restaurant was pretty cool to see.  Here is a link to their website to check out:

Peace all. 

carvings at a shop up above the restaurant

Friday, July 6, 2018

On My Way again

Well, I had a great time visiting with the kids and grandkids this week. I only get to see them once a year and the time goes so fast. After hanging on the boat all day and July 4th, we went back to the house and played some ping pong. I was too bushed to go see fireworks (not to mention we used to see them every night from Memorial Day to Labor Day from our house when we lived in Anaheim, California, about a mile north of Disneyland.)

July 5th the house was quiet, with just me and the Kid. We had coffee together and sat and talked awhile while I slowly packed up my gear for the ride out. 

It was promising to be another scorcher and I was not nursing a bathing suite sunburn on my shoulders. I had put sunscreen on my snow white legs while we were out on the boat but forgot about the shoulders and the reflection from the sun. So I got it good.

Before heading out, I shot a photo of my current bike next to the Kid's Sportster, which was my very first bike! Have no desire to ever ride that old girl again, but it does bring back some nostalgia. Loved that bike so much all the time I road her.

So I headed south on Illinois route 4 around 8:30am and had put on over 150 miles by 11am that morning. All two lane, catching Illinois 146 west to Illinois 1, which ends at a river. My trusty Rand McNally (GPS for old people) told me I could catch a free ferry ride from the north side of the river in Illinois to the south side of the river in Kentucky where I would pick up route 9. Probably the worst part waiting in the blistery sun for the ferry to work it's way back to us and unload before we could load up. But the cool thing is that ferry operators like to put motorcycles in the front so I got a front row view on the way across! 

I found my way to the Land Between the Lakes, a national reserve the runs from Kentucky to Tennessee and was a beautiful ride. There is a buffalo reserve there that you can drive through if you are in an enclosed vehicle, which, obviously I wasn't. I heard this morning on the news that some moron got out of his car there yesterday and got attacked by one of the buffalo. Idiot...

Actually the entire day was a nice ride. I love going through the little towns along the way. And since it was right after the fourth of July holiday, most little towns had old glory lining the main street. Really makes you feel proud of this awesome country we live in. We may have our problems, but there is still no place else I would rather live.

As I made my way into Clarksville, TN looking for lodging, the skies became ominous and lightning bolts and rolling thunder off in the distance did not bode well. Working my way towards the cluster of hotels along the interstate (which I had been avoiding, but where I knew the hotels and motels would be) Mother Nature finally let loose. I found a gas station, suited up and trudged on until I found a place for the night. All in all, a great day riding.

Looks like rain in the forecast for my Friday so I am making a bee line to Decatur. Wanted to check out the Nachez Trail but I have no desire to ride in the rain all day and I have hosts who kindly took the day off in anticipation of my arrival. So on I go.

Peace all and have a great weekend!



July 4th Holiday

July 4th with the Kid and grandkids would be a hot, sticky day for us. Fortunately, we would be on the water in a pontoon boat, my first time!

We loaded up coolers of fruit, lunch meat, beverages and snacks and headed to Carlyle Lake for the day. Unfortunately not everybody could go, but it was still a great day of swimming, cruising the lake and just being with family. 

This post is mostly just pictures of the day for you to see how I spent it.