Tim Hendrickson » Motorcycle travel story

Motorcycle travel story by Tim Hendrickson

Peaks of America Tour


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!


Day 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.

Day 2

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, 1047.

Day 3

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

Day 4

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 wait.

Day 5

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.

Day 6

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.

Day 7

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)
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.

Day 9

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.

Day 10

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 weather.

Day 11

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!

Day 12

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 that happen.

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 cuisine.

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, RAIN, 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 morning.

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 miles.

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.