PUBLISH TRAVEL STORY
Ray Moss, Paul Whitworth and I were sitting at the same table enjoying lunch
prior to the February RAMS meeting talking about travel plans for the coming
year. I told them about my experience at the "Top Of The Rockies" rally in 05,
and told them this rally was a "MUST", at least for me. We decided and agreed to
try to make both the BMW RA International Rally, and the Top Of The Rockies, if
at all possible. Our plan was to ride north and west, with our initial
destination being the Black Hills of South Dakota. From there, we would cross
Wyoming on back roads, ending up at Yellowstone National Park, then north to
Glacier National Park, before heading south to Boise, and the RA rally. We would
leave Boise on Sunday morning, July 9th, ride west to Washington State and the
Pacific Coast, then south down the Pacific Coast Highway. On Wednesday, we would
turn back east and head over to Paonia, CO for the Top Of The Rockies. When the
Colorado rally ended, the guys with real jobs, would pack up and go back home to
their work. Me, on the other hand, being semi-retired (unemployed, and not
looking to hard) had the ability to explore other options.
The BMW MOA is the following weekend in Burlington VT.
Ray started it all when he announced he was looking for a R1150RT so that he and
his wife Sharon could enjoy some 2-up touring and rally's together. I am sure
that sounded better to Sharon, than saying he needed a more comfortable ride on
the 6,000 mile plus, trip we were planning. At last years MOA, Paul Whitworth
helped out a friend with a family emergency, by riding his 03 K1200LT home from
Ohio. With Ray looking for a new bike, it was all the incentive Paul needed to
get him started looking for an LT. Ray found a Pristine, (04) R1150RT in Kansas
City, with 1500 miles on the clock and strikes a deal. Paul finds a flawless
(02) K1200LT in Indiana, and can't resist.
Me, watching all of this from a safe distance, am suddenly overwhelmed with the
dreaded; "Gotta have a new one"! While brsowsing the IBMR classifieds I find a
(02) R1150RT, at a reasonable price that might allow me to actually buy it
without selling off any of my prized BMW's. I rationalize that I am, "improving
my stable". (Miscellaneous Ramblings) My new (to me), RT is in need of some new
tires. With the capable assistance of a fellow RAMS member (Doug Pauley), I add
an accessory shelf, 2 power points, and a Sirius Radio to my RT. Steve Clark
helps me wire my helmet with an AutoCom, headset. Paul Whitworth lands a
construction contract that will cause him to miss the trip.
Now it looks like just Ray and I. Departure is set for July 1!
Friday night, the day before our scheduled departure, Ray's Mom suffers a
concussion from an accidental fall at his home. She is 75 years old, and in
visiting from Oklahoma. A trip to Baptist East (Hospital), and subsequent
admittance, puts our departure on at least, a temporary hold. Saturday afternoon
Ray called and advised his Mom was doing far better than anyone expected, and
was to be released. She is encouraging him to go ahead with his plans.
I meet Ray at the RaceTrack gas station & convenience market, in Millington at
5:00 AM. We had decided, rather than spend 2 boring days on the road, to do a
Iron Butt Qualifier Ride. That meant doing 2 days riding in 1 day, 1000 miles in
less than 24 hours. Our route: Memphis/Millington/Dyersburg/St. Louis/Kansas
City/Sioux Falls/Chamberlain, South Dakota would cover over 1000 miles, by "MapQuest"
routing information. (1020, from Millington) My actual mileage for the day,
Chamberlain, South Dakota (Morning of day 3). A tour of the spectacular scenic vistas that are the Badlands of South Dakota, a
stop at the "World Famous Wall Drugstore" for Ice Cream, then on to Sturgis,
South Dakota where we enjoy a late afternoon lunch. We dodge thunderstorms
lurking over the Black Hills, by taking SD Hwy 79 south to 36 west through
Custer National Park. We see lots of wildlife, (observing us from a safe
distance). I had made reservations at the Lake Bismark Campground in Custer
Park. A very pretty place, but no showers! We decide to look elsewhere and
discover Wheels West; 7th Calvary RV Park, Bunkhouse, Campground, Bar and
Restaurant. We find out that it has clean restrooms, hot showers and great
service. We will call it home for a couple days.
Total mileage for the day, 357
Today is our day to tour the Black Hills. We take 89 North out of Custer, then
the Needles Highway south to 16A, then the Iron Mountain Highway North to the
Mt. Rushmore National Monument. The Iron Mountain Highway has several tunnels
through the mountain which frame Mt. Rushmore perfectly. We continue up SD 385
to Hill City, where we enjoy a great lunch at The Buffalo Grille. After lunch,
we ride through the scenic Black Hills to Deadwood and visit the original "Boot
Hill", site of the final resting place of Wild Bill Hickock, and Calamity Jane.
I also have a great uncle who is buried there. While viewing Wild Bill Hickock's
burial site, a B1 Bomber blasts by in a low altitude climbing left turn,
afterburners ablaze, and accellerating toward the sun. A very impressive sight!
Leaving Deadwood, we take SD 14A through Lead, and up the Spearfish Canyon
Scenic Byway to Spearfish, SD.
We take 385 back south past the Crazy Horse Monument to Custer, and "Home".
Total Mileage for the day, 227. No Internet connection, so the "Blogging" must
We break camp and are on the road by 7:00 AM, heading west through the hills to
US 85 South. Weather seems to change with every passing mile, starts off nice,
then gets cold, then hot, then cools off again. On our trip south we encounter
our first (and hopefully last) bad luck. Ray hits a bump in a construction zone
and loses his top box, loaded with gear. He continues on, unaware that he has
lost it until a fellow in a Tahoe chases him down and tells him. The same guy
then chases me down, pulls alongside, and screams "Your Buddy..", while making
wild tumbling motions withhis right hand. Scared the crap out of me! Another car
pulling a trailer with 2 bikes aboard stopped and a gracious lady gathered all
of Ray's belongings, and top box. Top box not latched properly, we guess. Just a
scratched up top box, and wounded pride; No other damage. At Lusk Wyoming we
stop for breakfast, then head across US 18 and 20 to I-25. We take Wyoming 34
over to US 30, then south to Laramie. At Laramie, we pick up WY 130 west through
the very scenic Medicine Bow Mountain Range and climb above timberline for the
first time. We see snow on the mountains, next to the road.
Intersecting I-80, we turn west and burn miles, stopping for the night at a
motel in Green River, WY. Motel has Internet, but I am to not up to "Blogging".
Total mileage for the day is 563.
The first day of the RA rally. We leave Green River at 7:30 AM,
stopping for breakfast and some much needed eye care in Evanston, WY. Ray had
somehow caught a bug wing in his eye, and was in real misery. I had rolled over
on my regular glasses in my sleep and broke them, back in South Dakota. I was
relegated to "shades"! A WallMart in Evanston, solved all our problems. Glasses
fixed, bug wing removed, we are back on the road again. We stopped at the first
rest area in Utah, and picked up some maps. While there, we met a fellow on his
way to the RA rally, riding a R1150R, and pulling a camping trailer. He was
regaining his composure, after a brush with near disaster when his trailer hitch
broke at speed. Turns out he was a whiz at GPS navigation and taught me all
kinds of stuff about my GPS 5 (I have owned for 4 years). On the road again, we
arrive Boise at around 5:30, check in and go hunting for Doc Gale! Set up camp,
dinner, and a good nights sleep.
Total mileage for the day is 504.
Time to catch up on my "Blogging"! I predict zero mileage today. Total so far
2691. I am in love with the RT, runs like a clock! (A very good clock)
THE RA RALLY
July 7th, through July 9th The Rally was held at the Fairgrounds and Exposition
Center, in downtown Boise. The site had very ample and nice camping areas
located along the treed perimeter and in a couple larger wooded areas around the
grounds. We found Doc Gale, encamped at the far end of the area, nearest a Ball
Park, in a nice shaded area, with several tables, water, and electrical outlets,
nearby. To my surprise they had wireless internet service on site and we were
able to access the intenet from a picnic table next to our campsite. I spent
Thursday morning, generally attempting to learn how to post my "Blog's", on the
internet. My repeated shortcuts to streamline the process, only resulted in
failed attempts to log a post. When I finally surrendered to the system and
followed the "Blogspot" instructions, it was much easier than I ever thought it
would be. Typical Tim; Too busy to take the time and read the instructions,
resulting in several hours of frustration. I discover that Olympus has somehow
sent me the wrong cable for hooking up my new camera to my computer. Sorry
folks, uploading my many beautiful photo's, will just have to wait. Maybe I will
run across a place to get a cable, or can just borrow one. Thursday afternoon I
cleaned up my bike, and in the process discover that my front tire is about
gone. While it may have a 1000 miles or so life left in it, who knows where we
would be when its useful life ended. I decide to replace it.
No tires available on site at the rally, so I get on the internet and start
trying to find a 120/70, Z6 Metzler front tire. A fellow rally neighbor, Jim
Peterson, mentions a company named Motorcycle Accessory Warehouse, that he has
used in the past with some success. They have a warehouse in Boise. Looking them
up on the internet, I find that their warehouse is a short distance from the
rally site. After checking in the local phone book, I found no local contact
with an address matching the internet site. I did find a company with a similar
name, located in a Boise suburb, 13 miles away. I decide to ride over and check
it out. I arrive at Motorcycle Accessory's shop before breakfast,. The shop has
not opened, so I decide to stop in at the diner next door and have breakfast.
Later, I discover the companies have no affiliation, and the shop that I rode
out to visit has a very low opinion of the Internet Company. It seems they get a
lot of inquiries, as well as folks such as myself, dropping in to browse, shop,
or try and buy something at internet prices. They obviously do not like it! They
tell me that they have been in business at the same location for 12 years, and
the Internet Company is comparatively new. I check with the local BMW dealer,
and he has a tire for my bike in stock at a reasonable price. I ride over to Big
Twin Motorcycles and get a new front tire. They have several rare BMW's on
display upstairs, on a balcony, in their showroom. A nice dealership with good
service and decent pricing. One of the highlights of the rally was a $16
Barbeque Dinner Friday evening. I passed on this event; choosing a nearby Deli,
instead. Those who attended that I spoke with, were "less than thrilled". After
dinner Friday, a neighbor set up his laptop computer, complete with amplified
stereo speakers, and played a rented DVD of "The Worlds Fastest Indian" with
Anthony Hopkins. A very good movie, that drew a large crowd to our little corner
of the RA campground. Thursday and Friday there were Baseball games held at the
Park next door complete with Fireworks. I could never quite figure out why they
were playing Christmas Music before the game Thursday night. Saturday a Concert
was held in the Ballpark with some pretty good bands, playing 70's and 80's
hits. A racetrack also bordered the fairgrounds, and featured Quarter Horse
racing with pari-mutuel betting. A fellow came around offering free passes.
Sunday morning, we loaded the bikes, and set out for Glacier National Park.
Back in May, when I went to Colorado and picked up the new RT, I ran into a
Nevada State Trouper riding a V-Strom back from a Texas rally. We enjoyed lunch
together, and he told me about a road north out of Boise that he called: "The
best there is". We took Idaho 55 north out of Boise to intersect the storied
road; US 13 North, then 12 east, over to Missoula Montana. It (the road) was
everything Brad told me to expect, and more. Spectacular scenery, snaking
through mountains and valleys, along a whitewater river. Smooth, twisty and
pretty! Unfortunately for me, I was having a bad day. I had pulled off at a
convenience store for a brief rest and water, with Ray in the lead. We got
separated, and never hooked up again that day. About half way to Missoula, I
pulled off at a rest area and met a couple Beemer guy's who were about to leave.
They said they had worn themselves out enjoying the beautiful road, and stopped
for a "powernap". I was feeling so bad, I decided to give that a try. It worked!
Feeling much better after my nap on a park bench, I enjoyed the road to
Missoula. This is a do not miss road (US 12, and 13), if you are in the area. I
want to do it again. Ray and I had agreed that if we got separated on this leg,
we would see each other in Paonia. I spent Sunday night at a KOA campground in
Missoula. One of the very nicest and cleanest, I had ever seen. It had internet
access, laundry, and a cafe. I used them all, and got a good nights rest.
Monday morning while having breakfast, I was told of several areas of heavy road
construction, between Missoula and Glacier. (A lot of 1 lane gravel temporary
roads with delay's of up to 30 minutes, while waiting for pilot cars to escort a
line of Motorhomes through the construction.) Me with a new bike, heavily
loaded, lots of plastic bodywork: I decide to pass on this portion of the trip!
I had been thinking about trying to visit an old High-School buddy I had not
seen in over 30 years. Jerry Alexander and I had been close friends and
roommates during the last year of High School. Jerry had been living with his
sister, and brother in law, while attending High School. His brother in law was
transferred in his job and forced to move. Jerry, not wanting to leave his
childhood sweetheart, was looking for a place to stay. My Mother and Dad,
generously offered to let him stay with us. When he and his Sweetheart married,
I was asked to be an usher in his big church wedding. They are celebrating their
45th Wedding Anniversary, this year. He and I enjoyed several summer Colorado
camping trips, and other adventures, during those early years together. I decide
to visit. I leave Missoula and head southeast on I-90, then turn south into
Idaho on I-15, exiting on Idaho 33 headed to Jackson Hole Wyoming. Outside
Jackson, I stop for the night at a KOA. I opt for a cabin, due to threatening
Up at 7:00, I load the bike and head out to Breakfast. The night before, while
talking with my friend Jerry, he warned me of the "Pricey Places" around
Jackson. I stop at the small Cafй in Victoria, just outside Jackson and check
out the breakfast menu. Biscuits and Gravy.....$7.50 (cheapest thing on the
menu, coffee $3.00) I can skip a meal if I have too. I turn north toward
Yellowstone, then southeast down to Lander, looking forward to seeing old
friends. Jerry and his wife Mary moved to Lander, Wyoming in 1968. He has
retired from a successful Home Building, Excavation/Construction Company he
built, and has his son Wade running the business. Jerry is also a Motorcycle
enthusiast, and owns a new Honda Goldwing. Always one with a basic "need for
speed", he also has a new (06) Corvette C6 coupe. He took me for a memorable
ride around the Mountains near Lander at a very high velocity. The Vette makes a
lasting impression! Jerry is one Month older than I am and his Wife Mary is the
same age. She loves riding in the Vette at speed, and taking long trips on the
bike. No wonder they stayed together 45 years! Great friends, good time!
After a good nights visit, comfortable stay, I am off to Paonia. Jerry suggested
a route that would take me through Utah's Flaming Gorge Recreation Area, then
over to Grand Junction Colorado and down to Paonia. Great roads, very scenic! I
arrive in Paonia at around 4:00 PM. Set up camp, and meet Doc, Shag, and the
rest of our crew. Ray shows up with a new riding partner he met in Yellowstone
at around 5:30. I see Bob Coen, Past President of the Colorado BMW Club, and the
guy who signed me up as a member of the Colorado Club last year. He is looking
for Volunteers to help with the rally and talks me into helping with
registration from 10 AM-12 noon, the next morning. 440 pre-registered and looks
like that many already on site. Should be a great rally. TOP O' THE ROCKIES
Paonia, CO. July 13th through 16th. Up at 6:00 AM Thursday, walk over to the
registration building, and find coffee already waiting. I set up my computer and
decide to catch up on my blog's. The Internet is not accessible from the camping
area , but works fine in the registration/dining building. After finishing my
blogging, a fellow asked me if he might use the computer to check his email. I
agree, and turn the computer over to him, then go to check in with the folks at
the registration table. After a few minutes, I look up to see a line forming for
access to my computer, apparently thinking it is for public use. They seem to
have more volunteers this morning, than people lining up for registration. Lisle
Grimes has volunteered for the same time slot and we have a enjoyable time
welcoming several folks to the rally. We have an associate volunteer who
received the same training as Lisle and I, but feels the need to take charge of
the registration process. When a new person arrives at the registration table,
this guy immediately jumps into action. He goes so far as to step in front of
several people who are greeting new rally guests, and take over the
registration. He soon gets tired, or bored with the registration process, and
sits down to study a road map. After a few minutes studying his map, he would
spring back into action. This routine is a little frustrating to some, but also
very funny. For two hours of volunteer work, they give me a new "Colorado BMW
Club" hat and thank me for my time. I walk back out to our campsite and find
Ranger Cook, my regular riding buddy from the RAMS, has just arrived. Ranger
sets up camp next to us. We now have the entire corner of the campground,
exclusively filled with our little circle of rally friends. (Doc, Shag, Ranger,
Ray, Jim, Lisle and Mike.) All but Ranger, were camped together at Boise. The
rally begins to rapidly grow, and tops out at 1026 in attendance. They have
first rate entertainment, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Days are very
warm, but the evenings cool off rapidly; perfect rally weather. Thursday
morning, I get a call from James Wilbanks, owner of BMW Motorcycles of Little
Rock. James is trying his best to send me some business cards imprinted with
detail information on the Halloween Beemer Bash; a motorcycle rally we are
planning for this fall. I get him a shipping address for Progressive Realty in
Paonia. The next morning I decide to ride out to Progressive Realty to let them
know we are shipping something to them. What I discover is a steep gravel
driveway up a mountainside that is a real challenge for me, and my new RT.
Somehow I manage to make it to the top without breaking anything, and meet Doug
Winters. A very nice fellow, who was a part of starting the rally in Paonia.
Doug offers to bring the package into town when it arrives, saving me the
adventure of another trip up his driveway. Friday, Ray Moss leaves the Rally
early to go back home through Oklahoma and check on his mother, who has since
returned to her home. Ranger and I plan to leave Sunday and ride together as far
as St. Louis where we will split up. Ranger has to go back to work. I, on the
other hand, will head over to Louisville and visit my grandchildren, before
continuing on to Vermont. Ranger and I load the bikes, and leave Paonia by 8:00
AM Sunday. The first 190 miles are a beautiful ride in near perfect weather.
Coming down out of the Mountains into Denver, the temperature rapidly increases,
and Denver feels like a blast furnace! We tough it out, riding through the heat
into Salina Kansas, where we get a room at the local Motel 6. We find out later,
watching the evening news, the temperature reached 106 degrees Sunday, with a
heat index of 117.
When your HOT, your HOT!
Ranger and I split up in St Louis, and I arrive in Louisville around 10:00 PM.
My phone battery had died, so I couldn't contact anyone to let them know when to
expect me. I used a land line, and left word on my son Tom's answering machine
that I would be dropping by. I decide to take Tuesday off to visit friends and
service my bike, before heading on to Vermont.
Tuesday morning, I head over to Louisville BMW for an oil filter. I drop by Paul
Logsten's shop in Clarksville, IN to say hello. We talk about old times,
friends, and past adventures. Paul mentions and old friend Bud Roach, who I had
not seen in several years. We decide to go pay a visit and ride up to Memphis,
IN in Paul's car.
Paul, Bud and I were members of a Barbeque Cooking team that competed on the
championship "Memphis In May" cooking circuit for several years. After winning
the Cooking Team of the Year Award, along with a First Place in the World
Championship, we quit competing and pursued other interests.
We talked about having a 20 year reunion, to celebrate the first event we
competed in. (Murphysboro, IL Barbeque Championship, 1988) Maybe we can make
Wednesday, I set out for Vermont at 6:00 AM. I take I-71 through Cincinnati,
Columbus, Cleveland and I-90 into Fairfield, PA. In Fairfield I stop at Hills
Family Campground and set up my little 1-man tent for the night. After setting
up the tent, I head over to get something to eat and run into Jim Peterson
(Omaha, Nebraska) on his new BMW, R1200GS Adventure. Jim has been a part of our
crew since Boise.
Thursday morning I decide to by-pass I-90, by taking I-86 and I-88 over to I-87
north into Burlington. On the way, I stop by the famous Watkins Glen
International Race Track. I have been reading about this place since I was 14
years old. A very historic place in Motorsports!
When I arrive at "The Glen" there are two ladies standing guard at the entrance
to make sure I can't get in. Try as I might, I can't convince them of my urgent
need to see the track. They are holding a private "Track Day" for a car club. No
admittance without a pass. On I-88 east of Schenectady, NY I run into some very
rough pavement at speed, and my GPS abandons ship. I had velcro'd the GPS to my
new accessory shelf on the RT, and it survived nearly 7000 miles before
encountering the rough roads of NY.
I arrive at the rally around 10 PM and call Doc Gale. I get his answering
machine, leave a message, and then try Charlie Parsons. Charlie sends Steve
Clark over to the entrance gate to meet me and escort me over to the RAMS
compound. Once there, I find that we have another 12 members of our BMW (RAMS)
club at the rally. MOA International Rally July 20th through 23rd
Arriving at the rally site well after dark, and with a huge number of folks
already on site, finding Doc or the RAMS looks to be a formidable problem.
I call Doc Gale and get his auto-answering system, leave a message, then try
Charlie Parsons of the RAMS. Charlie sends Steve Clark out to the Registration
Entrance to guide me back to the RAMS compound. Once there, I find 12 fellow
RAMS members in full "party mode". I decide to set up my small 1 man tent,
rather than unpack all the big stuff, and see if Doc will call and give me
directions to the area where the roving rally crew is encamped. I will try and
find my associates who have traveled over 6000 miles with me in the morning.
Doc calls and leaves me directions sometime that night. In the morning I go
searching again, with no luck. Registration does not open till 8 AM, and I do
not have a map of the rally site. RAMS are all still asleep, so I decide to set
up in the RAMS area.
The RAMS have set up in a horse barn area. The horse barns have been cleaned and
are empty. In fact, several people are setting tents up inside stalls to stay
dry in the event of rain. I ponder this thought while looking at an empty stall
next to the RAMS encampment, then decide to set up outside. It has not rained on
us on this trip...yet!
After setting up, I head down to registration and sign in. After I am
registered, given a map of the rally site, I walk over to the Hospitality Room
to drop off my door prize tickets and check out the impressive number of vendors
in the exhibition hall.
It is not long before I run into Doc, who asks if I got his message, then shows
me the area where all the roving rally folks have set up. I have made a mistake!
Doc and the rest of the roving crew are set up in a pretty area, with shade, a
short walk from clean restrooms and showers, that most of the other 9000 people
don't even know exist. Our group, on the other hand, is set up a mile away from
the public showers that everyone knows about.
I ponder the idea of tearing down and moving to the new location, and decide it
is not worth the hassle of explaining my actions to the RAMS, and the effort to
tear down and set up again. I probably would not have had many volunteers to
help with that effort.
As Doc and I are strolling through the grounds, Shag Walters walks over and says
he has something to present me. Shag's sister works for Zippo, (the lighter
people) and she has taken the time and effort to make up 25, custom engraved,
"Peaks Of America Tour" Zippo Lighters. One will be given as a door prize to
some lucky person who rode to all three rally's. The other 24 were for Shag to
pass out, as he saw fit. He chooses to give them to our "Roving Rally" gang.
I was shocked! It is a beautifully engraved lighter with the logo of the "Peaks
Of America Tour". What a thoughtful and generous gesture by Rita Walters and her
brother Shag. I am honored to have been included in the circle of friends he
selected to receive this token of achievement.
The rally itself is a huge success! Over 9000 BMW enthusiasts are in attendance.
The exhibition hall and surrounding grounds are full of vendors selling every
motorcycle accessory you can dream of. Entertainment is provided every night.
On Saturday, the RAMS start pulling out for their long trek south. Saturday
afternoon it clouds over and threatens rain. Late afternoon the sky's open, and
the rain begins. (That horse stall looks pretty good to me now)
After raining most of the night, the rain finally tapers off and Sunday morning
we have intermittent showers. I pack up a wet tent and awning and thank my lucky
stars for a good dry tent that did not leak. I have decided to start my return
off with a tour of the Vermont Green Mountains. As part of the rally packet,
there was a nice weatherproof map with directions for several day rides. I ride
up to the Smugglers Notch Resort, and enjoy a brunch of "Salmon Benedict";
poached eggs and fresh salmon, served on an English muffin, topped off with a
hollandaise sauce and a bowl of fresh fruit. (Very unusual, and very tasty.) The
Green Mountains of Vermont are beautiful, and totally different from the
Rockies, The Ozarks and the Smokies. Lots of covered bridges. Too bad it is
overcast, and raining just enough to spoil the photo opportunity's.
After winding my way through the mountains, I work my way back to I-87 in New
York, then head south. I look for a KOA as I head south through New York and
down I-88 toward Pennsylvania. No luck with the KOA search, I settle for a
small, family owned, motel. I try and barter with the owner using my best "old
and poor" routine, trying for a lower rate, and finally get her to take $50
cash. I complain that this is still too much, but she assures me I am in New
York, and this is a very good deal.
I visit with a fellow named Richard and his wife. They are from Ohio and have
been to the rally in Vermont. He is amazed that I went to Boise, Paonia and
Vermont. They are riding a very nice 1985 R100RT, and he tells me that 300 miles
is a big day for them. His personal best is 450.
I decide not to discuss the 1047 mile day, Ray and I started this trip out with.
I try and sleep in and get my $50 worth to no avail.
I hit the road at 7 AM and turn south on I-81 with the Blue Ridge Parkway my
destination. I am not on the road very long when I am literally flying through
the clouds as I cross Southern New York. The low clouds, hanging in the Catskill
Mountains, make for a neat experience at 75 MPH. I roll across PA, West Virginia
and into Virginia. I stop for the night at a small privately owned RV park, and
set up my tent to dry out from the Vermont rain. I ride back into the town of
Toms Brook, to a nice little Italian Restaurant and enjoy some authentic Italian
Up the next morning, pack up my gear, and head for the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful! The roads are perfect. The 45 MPH speed
limit might be a problem, but I tell myself to relax and enjoy the scenic ride.
I am soon riding in the clouds again, only this time on a narrow twisting road
in a driving rain. I stop to put on my rain gear and meet a couple riding bikes
in the other direction. They are doing the same. (Putting on rain gear) They are
just getting started and have no advise on the weather ahead.
This is not fun! What was a blast on I-88 at 75 MPH, skimming through scattered
clouds and alternating clear blue sky's, is no fun in a driving rain on a wet
slippery, narrow twisting road.
I decide to get off the Parkway and check out the weather to the south. I get
off on VA 130 and head 20 miles into Lynchburg. Once there, I inquire where I
might find a place to watch the weather channel and have some lunch. I am
directed to a place called Berkley's, where I find a sweet young thing who
gladly puts the big screen on the weather channel for me. What I see is not very
good for motorcycle riding. The farther south you go, the worse it gets. RAIN,
To the west, much better, clear sky's all the way to Memphis.
I am starting to get homesick and I know Fuzzy (my dog) is worried about me.
I turn west and head for the sunshine. Once back on I-81 and headed for Bristol,
I stop and call ahead to advise my next door neighbor, I am headed home. I am
thinking that I will ride straight through and arrive around 2 AM in the
Just after dark, now on I-40 west of Knoxville, I ask myself if I really want to
do another 1000 mile day? The more I think about it, the answer becomes clear.
About that time I see a sign that say's "KOA: NEXT EXIT"! My mind is now made
up, crash for the night, and then a easy 330 miles home to Memphis Wednesday.
Just in time for "Bike Night"!
Home at 2:30 PM, 25 day's, 21 States, 8497 miles.
The trip did not meet my lofty goals that I always seem to set for myself. I had
originally planned to touch both the west, and east coasts, the Canadian
boarder, and the Gulf of Mexico. That would have been a little over 10,000
Any disappointments? No way!
Once, a few years ago, a good friend of mine and I were talking about the unique
feeling that you experience riding a motorcycle through the scenic wonders of
our land. Marshall put it into words, I think, when he suggested that when you
ride or drive through it in a car or bus, you witness and view the scenery. When
you do the same thing on a bike, you feel as though you are part of it.
Riding a motorcycle you are subject to a lot of outside influences that can
alter your plans. They include weather, road conditions, construction,
circumstances in general, riding partners, and your attitude at any given time.
It is all just part of the adventure and mystique.
Kind of like a normal life; only a lot more fun! Time to start thinking of the next trip.
Story by Tim Hendrickson
PUBLISH TRAVEL STORY