Sunday, July 30, 2017

Riding the Two Lane and Heading North

Sunday morning in Virginia was a bit brisk at 52F degrees. I was up with the sun and ready to roll back up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I rolled the throttle on as I headed north, enjoying a lot of solitude for the first couple of hour. I made a stop at the Mill to check out the display of historical buildings. Unfortunately the buildings are not open on Sundays but I toured the grounds. The sound of the turning water wheel could be heard from the parking lot. There were beautiful paths to the displays and it was peaceful so early in the day. And it gave me thought to the groomed parkway that I was riding, how the grass was cut along the entire route as well as the shrubberies trimmed back from the road. I know that it is a chore at home to keep the foliage from over growing my driveway, septic field and yard from the woods on three sides. So I would love to know how the forest service keeps the bushes along the roadside trimmed... hmmm. Homework for me? LOL

I ran the Parkway north just outside of Roanoak, Virginia, where a sign warned motorcyclists and bicyclists of loose gravel ahead. I exited the parkway and made my way to US 220 north. It started out a wide four lane, then jogged through a few small towns, down US 60, then north again to a rider's road from heaven! OMG! 220 north of US 60 was a banked, twisty, turning fun run that was like a motorcyclist's amusement ride! I met up with a couple on a bad ass Victory that I rode with
for awhile down the road until they turned off to catch some races and I caught route 39 west. And I smiled all the way. Another kick ass motorcycle road! Damn, I scored the rider's lottery today. And now, I am one day away from home. Shit. Can't I do this for, like, forever?

I love doing this. I wish I could do it forever, but I also like having a home. I have, literally, been homeless, and it is not fun. Not for me anyways. And so, here are a few more pictures before I travel back to reality.

Peace. . . Bobbi

the Mill

one of the many views from the parkway
Blacksmith stable

Not Enough Time for Everything I want to do...

I want to express my sincerest thanks to Kimmie and Gary for their hospitality and my true embarrassment and apologies to my high school buddy, Jeff, who I tried like hell to hook up with the last few days and failed miserably. OK, so let me explain ...

I didn't realize how bad I needed a down day on this trip until I got to Cousin Kimmie's and Gary's place in Decatur. I needed to do laundry and the bike was a fucking mess. I was more exhausted than I realized until I had a day off the road, to regroup in their beautiful home. I was glad to be able to clean my clothes, my bike, my body and my soul for a day... in really good air conditioning in a really nice home. Your hospitality was truly appreciated.

Then it only got better when we went out for some awesome BBQ at Big Bob Gibson's "world famous"BBQ
awards at Big Bob's
where it rained like crazy as we pulled in. Apparently, these type of toad soaker rain falls are common down there but this place still hasn't figured out how to drain the parking lot! LOL

The dinner was awesome. Kimmie and I each had these HUGE stuffed baked taters with shredded BBQ pork, butter, chives, sour cream and cheese. Kick ass good. 

I started loosing track of what day it was by now. I had to write down where I was to remember, which is a good indication that this whole vacation concept was working.

Thursday morning I left Decatur headed to visit an old high school buddy in Georgia. But I had no idea how scenic northern Georgia is and how far south he was from my starting point. And so, stressing about trying to meet up with him, I missed so many very cool photo ops along the way. Not blaming anybody but myself for trying to cram too much trip into too short of a time.

Me and Scot and Angie
And so, twice, I apologize for my failure to adequately plan my trip. But in the end, isn't that what road trips should be? Too much to see and do and not enough time and so, hey, what the fuck, let's come back next year?

But life goes on, and I made my way to Lumberton, NC for an unexpected visit with my brother and sister of the wind, Scot and Angie, a pair of NE Ohio transplants to the south. Wow it was hot down there. Just saying. No, really, it was HOT. And the traffic to get there was something else. Route 74 out of Charlotte was a parking lot for what seemed like miles, especially sitting on the bike. And driving the outer loop around Charlotte was like the Indy 500! Some scary stuff too.

I made it there and Scot found some room for my scooter next to his for the night and we spent the evening drinking a bullshitting like bikers do. Unfortunately, Saturday morning came and I had to keep moving. A brief downpour while drinking coffee on the patio was the start to the day and I suited up in rain gear because the weather forecast indicated I could be riding in rain most of the day. I had originally wanted to back track up 74 to hit the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, NC before jumping on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but after suffering the traffic the day before, I decided that was another road side
attraction that would have to wait until my next southern foray. So I headed in a more northern route, jumping on US 421 just forth of Fayettville. I got to see the exit for Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, where my sister, Bonnie, was stationed for four years, along the way. By the time I hit 421, it looked like I might just dodge the rain! About half way to the parkway, the weather cleared and I was able to take off the gear!

I hit the Blue Ridge Parkway outside of Boone, NC around 2pm on Saturday and the Parkway was full of motorcycles. As I remember, the views were incredible. I don't remember the year, but the last time I rode the parkway was with Buffalo on my 2000 SuperGlide. I have a photo from that ride on the wall in my office. So it was with some tears and smiles that I rode as I spoke softly to him and told him how much I missed him and how much I wished he was here for the ride. More to follow tomorrow. I will leave you with a few more pictures. Peace...Bobbi

Playing the dolcemer at the visitors center ... this kid was very good at it too.
at Scot and Angie's in Lumberton, NC
all my friends know the salute! LOL

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Southern Exposure

Tuesday night I spent in the town of Crossville, TN. Wednesday morning greeted me with another warm morning, so the leather vest was packed away for the day ... too hot to look cool! hahaha!!!

After posting the previous blog, I mapped out a plan to make my way to Look Out Mountain on the border of Georgia and Tennessee to do the tourist thing. (Or should I say "thang" now that I am down south?) The ride through Tennessee was very pretty. Not nearly the winding roads like Kentucky, but beautiful scenery for most of the way. Running south on 127 and Tennessee Route 8, I was flanked by
The scenic views on Tennessee sections of US Route 127 & TN route 8
buttes on either side, with groves of trees or fields of corn and other crops between them and the highway. The heat kicked up to 103 about mid day as I crossed the Tennessee River in Haletown on Route 41 heading east. There were loaded barges in the river inching their way along to my left as I crossed. Unfortunately, there are always "No Stopping" signs on the bridges where the best pictures are begging to be shot! The highway followed the east banks of the river from there, and like all river roads, meandered up and down with ample tree shade to give me a welcome break from the sun. This route brought me
There are all kinds of photo ops there
into the south side of Chattanooga, which is the gateway to Look Out Mountain. A steep, winding road leads up there from either side and you get the feel of how touristy the place is when there is somebody in the parking lot directing traffic in 103 degree heat. After parking and changing from boots to tennis shoes for the visit, I about choked at the $21 fee for entrance!

Also known as Rock City, the Look Out Mountain park was opened to the public around 1932, after the property owner's realized that the pathways they had created in their garden could be a great roadside attraction. The original owner's wife was fascinated with fairies and gnomes, and the place has multiple little gnomes statues throughout the walking tour. Granted, the work of creating the pathways and bridges on the property was certainly an admirable feat, but the execution and presentation of the place over all is the true definition of tacky with a capital "T". From the minute you start the tour, you notice the background sound of soft music, mixed with birds singing (on the sound track with the music), which adds to the puke value. Then there are all these stupid gnomes throughout
the place, including caves with little gnome settings of villages and working gnomes and glow in the dark gnomes. It's just freaky. I will admit that the kids and the foreigners walking the tour seemed to love it. And if nothing else, it was worth it to see the rock formations and the view from the top. What appears to be a spectacular water fall is man made and there is a pitiful "deer park" where I saw one deer hiding beneath a bridge in a very sad enclosure. There is a swinging bridge, which is pretty cool too. If this park was built today, it would be far different. All of the stone walls were far beneath building code requirements and I can't believe kids don't go over them every so often. I mean, many of the walls over bridges were not more than a couple feet high. Would I go again? No. Would I recommend a visit? Sure. That's why they call them roadside attractions.

This was called Fat Man's Squeeze
By the time I was sliding my riding boots back on, it was going on 2pm EST and I needed to head west back towards Decatur, Alabama to visit with Buffalo's cousin Kimmie and her husband, Gary. I looked at the maps and decided that if I headed right at the bottom of the mountain it would run me to my desired highway. I followed that highway to another one, did a map check and followed that one to what I thought was US route 75 in Alabama. Turns out I had once again temporarily misplaced myself. Fortunately, an intersection with another route and a quick map check sent me in the right direction. According to the trusty Rand McNally, route 75 is marked scenic (little green dots along the highway on the map designate this) but the only thing scenic about it was that it seemed to exemplify the stereotype of what the movies make you think Alabama is! Sad looking mobile homes, piles of junk cars and miscellaneous yard stuff littered most of the properties for a fair amount of the way. I found nothing scenic about that road at all ... as a matter of fact, I would say that it was the most disappointing two lane on the trip so far. I
caught 205 in Albertville to Guntersville, where 205 abruptly
ended at a highway with no signs! Had to stop to ask what it was! I eventually made it to Decatur but had to call Kimmie for
directions to her house as I wrote them down wrong that morning when I Google Mapped her. Gary and Kimmie treated me to a great dinner of shrimp, corn on the cob, sausage and potatoes, followed by a lively conversation to finish up the evening.

Wednesday is a rest day for me and the scooter. Did some laundry and washing the bike, lunch out with Kimmie and I am promised an evening motorcycle ride with Gary and Kimmie tonight. Life is good. I will finish up with some more pictures.

Peace! Bobbi

I braved this bridge, which for me, is saying a lot! It was called Swinging Bridge for a reason.
One of the many caves. There was either light at the end coming in or they had some very dim lights inside.
According to Wikipedia, this has never been proven. It was claimed by officers during the civil war and became folk lore.

 the top view is called Lover's Leap. The lower view was built for photo ops I believe. 

Doing the tourist photo op thang!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Monday and Tuesday ...

Marie and I at Rabbit Hash
Well most of Sunday was an on again, off again day of riding in the rain. When it finally let up in Fairmont, WV, I continued south on Route 19. The road was in terrible condition from the storms over the weekend and half of West Virginia's gravel driveways had seemed to have washed across the two lane highway, making the ride treacherous. At one point I came to the town of Monongah, where I had to pass under a railroad trestle. Apparently the day before, this portion of the road had been unpassable but by the time I got there, a slick layer of muddy water about a couple inches thick remained, making the ride through a sure mess of my bike, as well as a dicey proposition. I got through, stopped for a break and threw on my jacket back on because I could feel a difference in the air and knew more rain was coming. I was correct. From West Virginia's 19, I ran US 50, then US 32 in towards Cincinnati. What a great choice that was.
Although I got rained on sporadically throughout the day, the four lane highway was a far better ride than the interstate with plenty of gas stations and nice rest areas along the way. I would highly recommend this to running a freeway any day. Unfortunately, I did have to jump on the Interstate to bypass Cincinnati and make my way to Florence, KY to meet up with my past fellow RJ Martin employee, Marie and her husband Dave. I managed to get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, in all my rain gear, as the temperature climbed to about 85F-degrees in
Dave & I pegged!
sunshine. By the time I was able to get off the highway, I felt like I was in a sauna!

Marie and Dave were awesome hosts for the evening. Marie put together a meal I would have been proud of! We feasted, then they loaded me up for a drive to the infamous Rabbit Hash, a town where a dog is mayor and the bikers flock to on the weekends. And I could see why. The road there was a two wheel dream (unfortunately we all wouldn't fit on my bike so we made the trek in their Subaru) and the town was charming. Unfortunately the mayor had the day off, but we perused the newly rebuilt general store and the small town's property (there really isn't alot) before heading off the Big Bone State Park in search of Bison. Unfortunately, the weather was stifling and apparently the beasts had decided to shelter somewhere shady and out of human site. We had a pleasant walk, though, before returning to their home and spending the rest of the evening chatting and communing with the three fur babies in the family room. I had a wonderful time and it was nice to see them both.

Loved this sign on KY 127
Tuesday morning greeted me with 72F degree, 90 percent humidity as I packed up the bike to venture on. I had chosen to run 127 south through Kentucky and Tennessee and to my pleasant surprise, this is the highway that led to Marie and Dave's housing track! So I did not have far to go to hit my stride. Route 127 and Route 42 run together for a ways and I didn't notice when the two split. I was following the river, then started passing some very scenic views of locks, a large lake and it was all really nice for awhile. Then I started noticing a lot of big rigs on the highway. A business associate and riding buddy, Jim Martin, had informed me that 127 was an awesome riding road, so when I soon found myself passing large factories of US
Stainless, Dow Corning, and US Gypsum to name a few, in the town of Carrolton, which I didn't remember seeing along my intended route, it was time for a map check. And that's when I realized I had temporarily misplaced myself. Because, on a motorcycle trip, you are never lost if you are having fun! I back tracked about a half mile and caught route 227 heading east. And that's when I realized that my routing mistake would reward me with one of the best riding opportunities of the day. Route 227 was a motorcyclist's dream road. Twisty, turning with fantastic vistas on many turns, I was greatly rewarded for my error with this one road. It eventually dumped me back onto 127. Yeah, thanks to my "Old Skool GPS"!!

Route 127 was a great choice for the ride south. Every time there was a bypass, I skipped it and
Tasting the products with Lee
rode through the small towns the bypass, well, bypassed. And enjoyed looking at the beautiful and historic homes and down town districts. After all, riding the two lane isn't always about the destination, much of the purpose of getting off the interstate is to explore this fantastic country we live in and all she has to offer. It is seeing everything we don't normally get to see as we hurry through our day to day lives. 

Along Route 127 is the Buffalo Trace Distillery, one of my intended destinations. I stopped to take a tour and check out the place where one of my favorite adult beverages is made. The tour lasts about an hour, and takes you through one of their small batch bottling rooms where people are literally hand bottling and sealing the product! Lee, our guide, explained the distilling process and we got to see a warehouse as well. The tour I was on does not take you to see the large vats. The distillery has several tours and all the other ones must be signed up for in advance. Since I wasn't sure when exactly I would be there and didn't want to have to pin
Lee explains the evaporation process in the barrels
myself down to any rigid scheduling on the trip, I chose the smaller tour. It was still fun and informative. The waiting area where you line up for the tour had glass cases full of many different artifacts from the history of the distillery. They were able to stay in business through prohibition as they were one of four distilleries authorized by the government to continue distilling for "medicinal" purposes... yup, at one time, distilled spirits were considered medicine! Buffalo Trace was bottled under several different labels over the years, which is why you won't recall seeing the product many years ago. One of the interesting parts of the tour was when Lee gave a visual on how much liquor evaporates in the barrels the longer they are aged. In the photograph, the top left is nearly full whereas the bottom right represents 18 years in a barrel. Top right is 8, bottom left is 10. He says they like to

say that the angels take a cut of it! Oh, and because I didn't have lunch before visiting the distillery, believe it or not, I passed on the spirits, other than to try a small sip of their mash #1, which is the whiskey before it goes into the barrels, and boy was that nasty!!

I had the great fortune of a 85F degree day all day Tuesday (finally!) and had to stop to hydrate several times, much more pleasant than stopping because of rain. No complaints on my part. I found a little BBQ joint on 127 for lunch, skipped the craft beer  and opted for water, before making my way towards the Tennessee border. The riding was fantastic and I had a great day, finishing up in Crossville, TN.

Here are some more photos of the day... next stop is Look Out Mountain! Peace all. ~ Bobbi

On my misplaced route along the Ohio River ... not such a bad place to be lost!
One of my many map check locations ... didn't have a city for reference so I continued on for awhile.

One of the many aging warehouses on the Buffalo Trace property ... notice the barrels in the windows?

Small batch bottling room ... our tour group was large so we had to keep moving.
Outside the general store at Rabbit Hash
Another building at Rabbit Hash ... I think they serve BBQ out of here but we were there late on a Sunday.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mountainwet 2017 and Beyond

Saturday morning was a bust from the start. The Bean and I were up and ready to roll out by 9am
but some people who ride motorcycles are just plain idiots. We walked out to the bikes, parked under the awning out in front of the hotel, to find that a row of late, incoming riders had blocked us in by double parking! What kind of moron thinks this is ok is beyond me! When one of the offenders finally got his ass out of bed and wandered out, he got indignant with Bean when she asked him to move his bike!

Unfortunately, that was one of the few times on Saturday we would get to see some sunshine. We decided to head up to Mylan Park to get a patch sewn on to Bean's new threads. You see, the last couple of times we rode together, I ran lead. So this weekend, because Bean had done all the leg
work on the event and had the trusty cell phone GPS gig going for her, I gave her the title of Road Captain and she ran lead the entire weekend. With the title, came the patch, which I bestowed upon her on Friday. So Saturday we went in search of the lady with the sewing machine to place the patch. We got about half way up the twisty two lane road that leads to Mylan Park when the sky opened up on us. By the time we parked, it was coming down pretty steady. And about that time, the nice lady parking the bikes informed us that the venue didn't open until 11am... it was about 10:30. So along with a group of about a dozen other riders, we huddled under the entrance tents and bullshitted... sort of like a bridge party. For those of you who don't know what a bridge party is, think of the time you're driving your car down the road in the pouring rain, you go under a bridge or overpass and see a bunch of motorcycles pulled over and the people standing around talking... that, my friends, is a bridge party! You share stories of other weather disasters you have survived and general biker trash talk. 11am rolled around and the weather was still crappy. So we waited for it to let up, then rolled on back down the hill to Triple S Harley-Davidson to spend some money, shop and wait out the next down pour to pass. 

After the rain again gave us a break, we headed back to the hotel to change into something dry, throw our clothes in the drier (for the second time and this time there was a wait) and wait out the current down pour. Eventually it gave us a break and we rode back up to Mylan Park where a small group of the thousands of people in town had ventured out by then. I hooked up again the Chris and the Cycle Source crew who were finishing up a very small bike show (as you can see by the puddles the bikes were sitting in, few wanted to come out for it...)

Bean got her patch stitched on, we watched some midget wrestling from the back row for awhile
me and a wet Bean at the Harley shop
inside, then ventured back down to the Harley shop to listen to some tunes when, you guessed it, the rain came back in...again! So we hung out there for awhile as the band played on before working our way back to the hotel to dry off, eat some junk food and finish off the night with an HBO movie.

Sunday morning we parted ways and I headed south on US 19 out of Morgantown. The road was an absolute mess from the day before, with all the storms. There was mud and gravel all over the road the entire way south and in some spots, it was somewhat treacherous. But I made it all the way to Fairmont, WV (about ten or fifteen miles south of Morgantown) before I got dumped on again!!!!!

More later... here are some pictures for you. Peace out. Bobbi.

dude at the Harley shop ... picture says it all

view out our hotel room window during one of the ongoing downpours
Chris with Cycle Source Magazine reading off bike show winners