2008  RIDE  JOURNAL
Here are some photos from recent day trips or just riding around.  All of the images are links to larger photos.  Click the image to view the large photo.  The large image will open in a new window on most browsers.  Web sites for destinations that have one may be visited by clicking the link below the photo or in the text of the section.

Many of the sections will show GPS coordinates in the title.  I try and remember to save the coordinates when I arrive at a site, but sometimes I forget to do so.  In those cases I get the coordinates from the GPS software on my computer and show them as "+/-" to denote that they are not exact.

Most of the photos were taken by me, but some were taken by friends and other riders.  ALL PHOTOS ARE COPYRIGHTED AND MAY NOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT THE EXPRESS WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE OWNER

NEW YEAR'S DAY -- January 1, 2008
Not much going to happen today as far as riding goes!  2008 is starting with a bang of cold weather.  The forecast high for today is 35° and winds gusting up to 40 mph.  Tonight is supposed to dip down to 19° so tomorrow won't be much better.  I might manage to run a few errands on a bike this afternoon but there won't be much in the way of a real New Year's Day ride this year.

Oh well, Happy New Year anyway!

CABIN FEVER -- January 5, 2008
I HAVE CABIN FEVER!  Not a single mile on a bike in the past week and I am having serious withdrawals!  The sad thing is that it hasn't rained much either.  The problem has been the temperature.  As mentioned above it has been cold!  When I left for work on Wednesday (1/2) it was 18° at 6:00am.  Thursday was even worse.  When I left it was 11°!  Friday it warmed up decently but early in the morning it was 22° when I left.

So now here we are at the weekend.  It was supposed to rain today so I didn't plan anything.  Naturally it didn't rain any to speak of.  Tomorrow I am OUT OF HERE!  It's supposed to be clear and 60° and I am on the road!  I don't care where, I don't care how long, I don't care which way I go, but I am going to ride a bike tomorrow.

Update - 01-06-08 - Oh boy did it feel good to get out and ride today!  It was really windy, gusting around 25mph, but it was so nice and warm.  According to the weather service it topped out at 65° today and after our freezer of late last week it really felt great.  I even wore my mesh jacket with a liner and lightweight gloves instead of all my heavy winter gear.

I was going to ride down around Center Hill lake since Highway 96 around the lake is a blast to ride, but the roads were wet from overnight rain so I decided to forego tight, twisty roads for today.  I rode to Smyrna, TN and cut over to Highway 231.  Highway 231 to Murfreesboro and then Highway 96 to Franklin.  Then, since I was so close, I had to make a run down the Natchez Trace Parkway for a bit.

Out and about for 125 miles and it felt great.  I could have done without the wind and the wet roads but actually I hardly noticed them.  I'll sure be glad when spring gets here and there are more days like this one.



GPS Track Log - 01/06/2008
CYCLEWORLD INTERNATIONAL MOTORCYCLE SHOW -- January 19, 2008
My case of Cabin Fever is, if anything, getting worse.  I did manage to ride to work on January 14, and that was actually a mistake.  It was 25 degrees when I left home and the windchill on part of my short ride to work was about 1°F!  That was not much fun.  This week doesn't look any better with very cold temperatures and some snow and rain forecast.

To combat the mid-winter blues I met a friend in Crossville, TN and we drove (yes, "Drove", not "Rode!") to Atlanta, GA. to the Cycleworld International Motorcycle Show.  We left on Friday, spent the night in Atlanta, and came back on Saturday evening.  When we left Atlanta there was about an inch of snow on the ground there with a good bit more forecast for the rest of the day.

The show was good with all of the major motorcycle manufacturers showing off their 2008 models.  All of the big boys were there; Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Buell, and even Aprilia, Hyosung, and a few others.  There were booths set up by numerous distributors and a LOT of people there!  It was a lot of fun to see some of the new models and a lot of toys and riding gear in one place.

There were also a number of custom motorcycles, and that's where I took most of the photos.  Most people who would read this web site are familiar with the offerings from most of the manufacturers, but we don't get to see the custom bikes very often.  Photos are below, and as always clicking one of the smaller images will display a larger photo.

JUST OUT RIDING -- January 27, 2008 -- Suzuki DL650K6
Aaaaah!  Boy did it feel good to get out and ride today!  This past week has seen nightime low temperatures in the low teens (as in 11°!) and daytime highs barely above freezing.  Yesterday was a bit better and today was almost "Nice".  I got out of the house about 11:00 and it was about 40°.  When I got home about 4:00 it was around 50°.  I can almost handle that!

I rode over to Center Hill Lake and across the dam.  Then on up Highway 96 to Interstate 40.  From there I rode up to Baxter, TN and back to Lebanon via Highway 70N.  A hop alongside Percy Priest Lake to I-24 and back home.  About 175 miles round trip and it really, really felt good to get out and ride!

No photos today but the usual GPS track log is below.


GPS Track Log - 01/27/2008
     
DAY RIDE -- February 2, 2008 -- Suzuki DL650K6
Too nice not to ride today!  A little cool early and a good bit breezy, but it warmed up to 55° so I had to get some miles in.  In fact I put in about 215 of them.

I left Nashville about 9:00 and headed east to Manchester, TN for some breakfast.  After that it was over to Monteagle, TN to see if there was any snow on the ground.  We had flurries in Nashville yesterday and I thought there might be some in that area.  No snow, but I found some great roads and some gorgeous views of the hills.

Needless to say the trip to Monteagle wasn't via the straight and narrow interstate either.  From Manchester I headed up Highway 41-A over to Highway 50 and then north to Altamont.  From there down Highway 56 through Tracy City to Monteagle.  I stopped at the South Cumberland State Park Visitor's Center in Monteagle and the lady I talked to mentioned that there was a natural stone arch bridge in Sewanee, TN so it only seemed natural to stop there for a couple of photos.

From Sewanee it was back to Nashville via Highway 41-A through Winchester, Tullahoma, Shelbyville, and Nolensville.  All told 215 miles door to door.  I could have done without the wind but other than that it was a perfect day to get out and ride some.








GPS Track Log - 02/02/2008
 
JACKSON FALLS - NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY - February 9, 2008
GPS Coordinates: N35.69687 W87.29396 -- Honda VFR800
Like last weekend today was just too nice not to ride today!  A little cool early but it warmed up to 55° so I had to get some miles in.

I left Nashville about 8:00 and stopped for some breakfast at a local Shoneys restaurant.  I had no real destination in mind and while I was eating I decided to ride down to Jackson Falls to see if there was some water there now.  I rode down there last summer (photos are Here) and it was just a dry mudhole.  Things were much nicer today as the photos below will bear out.

The Trace is always a good place to ride and today was no exception.  Bright blue sky, decent temperature, and no traffic to speak of.  What more can one ask for?


Looking East from the Jackson Falls Overlook

Jackson Falls on the Natchez Trace Parkway

GPS Track Log - 02/09/2008
LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES - February 16, 2008 -- Suzuki DL650
It was "Supposed" to be nice today.  Partly cloudy and a high of 53°.  Sometimes things just don't quite work out as planned!

I headed out early for Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area.  I used to spend some time there when I lived closer but haven't been back in many years.  LBL is 170,000 acres of land located between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, crossing the Kentucky and Tennessee state line.  The area is completely undeveloped and there is not a single commercial establishment anywhere within the boundary of the area.  When you live in a large metropolitan city it is such a treat to be away from traffic, businesses, signs, billboards, interstates, people, etc.  LBL also has a large population of Elk and Bison that can be seen from "The Trace".  The Trace, not to be confused with the Natchez Trace Parkway, is a state highway that runs through the area.  It is a low-traffic highway and a great place to ride.  The biggest problem are the deer which are everywhere!

I stopped at the Golden Pond Visitor Center because I head been told that they have a dated stamp there that I could add to my Passport Stamp collection and sure enough they did.  This Visitor Center is roughly in the center of the area, and I had planned to head north on The Trace to view the Elk and Bison on the north side.  But, as I said, plans change and I was COLD!  Even though the actual temperature there was much the same as in Nashville it felt much, much colder than 41° because of all the lake moisture around.  It was also sprinkling rain and I didn't want to push my luck.  I didn't know at the time that it was 41°, all I knew was that it felt much colder than Nashville and I was concerned about it being close to freezing.

I was surprised to find that there were Bison ranges on the south end as well, and even more surprised to see a small heard of them garzing beside the road.  I had to stop and take a few photos of them since that isn't something that I get to see every day.  Photos of these huge monsters are below.  The cold didn't seem to bother them at all, but they appear to have pretty good fur coats to!

It was 39° when I left Nashville and I was actually comfortable heading northwest on I-24.  That changed as I got closer to LBL though.  I was grateful for my Gerbing heated gloves, and almost wished I had brought my heated socks (which I consider to be the ultimate source of pain in the universe.  I'd rather be cold than put those bear traps on my feet!).  A few miles down The Trace it started to warm up though and by the time I got to the south end at Dover, TN it was nice and warm again.

I stopped at Ft. Donelson to see if the eagles were around (I was told by a Ranger that they were nesting at this time) and lo and behold they had a new Passport Stamp that I hadn't gotten the last time I was there.  I didn't see the eagles but I scored another stamp so it was worth the stop.

All in all a good ride.  Cold up north for a while but other than that a great ride.  237 more miles on the odometer and a visit to places I haven't seen in a long while.


GPS Track Log - 02/16/2008
 
ANOTHER GLOOMY WEEKEND - FEBRUARY 23 & 24, 2008 -- Honda VFR800
Yet another gloomy weekend.  You'd think I would be getting used to these by now.  All I can remember for the past few weeks is clouds, rain, and cold weather.  I can usually deal with the cold OK but when it's cloudy and damp the cold goes right through all of my heavy winter gear.  At least this is the last weekend in February and things should start to look up a little bit now.

Centennial Park - 02/23/08

Planes, Trains, and, well, "Bikes", I guess.  Sorry, no automobiles.  I was going to ride to Clarksville today but when I got up there was a little snow on the ground and it was 30°.  I don't mind riding when it's cold but I draw the line at snow.  So, I drove to Clarksville.  The roads were dry but sometimes I just don't trust the weather around here in the winter.  It's always a bit colder in Clarksville than in Nashville so I just didn't want to take the chance.  When I got back home it had warmed up a little so I decided to ride somewhere.  As a "Trip" this one is a complete flop since it was only 22 miles door to door, but since these were the first miles I've put on a bike this week it felt good to get out some.  Besides, I have a new Metzeler Z6 on the rear of my VFR that needed a couple of heat cycles put into it.

I rode to Centennial Park just outside downtown Nashville to take a few photos of the North American F-86L that I knew was on display there (GPS coordinates: N36.15056 W86.81566).  It was cloudy, damp, and cool (about 37°) or in other words a lousy day to do anything.  The photos below show a few breaks in the clouds but they didn't last long.

Oh well, at least I got a few miles in.  Next week looks a little bit better but not a whole lot.  I'll sure be glad when spring gets here, I am tired of cold weather and gray skies.

Natchez Trace Parkway - 02/24/08

Well as usual the weather guessers completely missed today.  The forecast was for 52° and I think it topped out at 42°  They started with a 60% chance of rain and then went to a 30% chance of rain.  52° with a slight chance of rain is good enough for me so I headed out.  It was 39° when I left and I kept telling myself, "It's gonna get warmer ... it's gonna get warmer ... it's gonna get warmer."  Then I changed to, "That's not rain on my face shield ... that's not rain on my face shield ... that's not rain on my face shield."  I finally quit kidding myself.  "It is in fact 39° and isn't going to get much warmer and it is raining all over me.  I'm cold, I'm wet, and I'm going back home."  I need a good "Disgusted Smilie" because I am disgusted with this weather and I'm not a real big fan of weather guessers right now.  The forecast for tomorrow is 59° with a 20% chance of rain.  That means it will probably be sleeting when I head home from work ;(

I rode down the Natchez Trace Parkway to scuff in the new Metzeler Z6 on my VFR, and admittedly I did get about 50 miles on it before the rain started up.  It was cold though!  The kind of damp cold that this part of the country is known for in the winter.  When it started raining I was about 35 miles from home and ready to be someplace warm for a while.  I finally got home and sucked down a couple of cups of hot chocolate and got my blood trudging around the arteries again.  Oh well, as I keep telling myself .. Spring is coming!

EAST AND WEST - MARCH 1 & 2, 2008 - HONDA VFR800
Finally!  A decent weekend is in the works!  Cloudless skies and decent temperatures for a change, and I really needed some.  I was really getting tired of gray skies, rain, and cold.  With a bit of luck this weekend will be a 2-parter 'cause I plan on hitting the road both days!

PART I - Saturday, March 1, 2008

The VFR and I headed west today.  I didn't really have a destination in mind when I left home, so I just headed west.  I stopped for some breakfast near the interstate and thought I might head west.  Just riding down the slab didn't seem like much fun so I headed west on Highway 70.  When I got to Dickson, TN I decided to head for Waverly, TN since I have been wanting to get by the airport there for a couple of years.

The engineering company I used to work for designed a runway and taxiway improvement for them and I did a lot of the design.  I changed companies while the project was under construction and never got to see what it looked like when it was finished.  That's one more of the places I wanted to visit on a bike off the list.  It's getting pretty bare now since I've manage to hit most of them.  Guess I'll have to add a few more new ones.

I took Highwy 70 all the way to Waverly.  Coming back to Nashville I took Highway 13 south to Linden and picked up Highway 412 east to Hohenwald.  There I picked up the Natchez Trace Parkway about 75 miles south of Nashville and rode it up to the northern end.  Finally a run down Highway 100 back home.  All told about 212 miles in absolutely perfect weather for a change!

PART II - Sunday, March 2, 2008

I was invited to ride with a friend from the VFR World forum so I took him up on it.  I met him in Lebanon at noon and we rode to Hartsville to meet up with a couple of his other friends.  His friends brought some other friends and by the time we left there were a dozen bikes.  Big groups are normally not the way I ride, but this was a lot of fun and I had a great time.  I appreciate the invitation and look forward to doing it again!

Other than the wind, which was pretty stiff, the weather was great!  It topped out at about 74° and I didn't see a cloud anywhere.  Great weather and a great day of riding.  What more could one ask for?


GPS Track Log - 03/01/2008

GPS Track Log - 03/02/2008
I AM SICK OF WINTER! - MARCH 8 & 9, 2008
Doesn't look like there will be much riding this weekend!  As I write this on Friday night it is a blizzard outside.  The forecast is for 3" to 6" of snow tonight and tomorrow so it's pretty unlikely that either bike is going to get out of the house this weekend.  After tomorrow it warms up to the 50's again so I might get a few miles in on Sunday.  Just have to wait and see I guess.  The long-range forecast for next weekend is rainy and warm but that will certainly change between now and then.  Hopefully the warm part will stay and the rainy part will go away.

Update - 03/08/08 - We got between 2" & 3" of the white stuff.  The sun came out about mid morning and the streets cleared off and dried up but it stayed pretty cold all day.  I did go for a short "Ride", about 1 foot out of my basement.  That was just to say I have "Ridden" on snow ;)  The basement door is partially covered by my deck above so there was less than 1/4" of snow there.

Update - 03/09/08 - I did get out and ride a little today.  It warmed up to about 52° so it felt pretty decent.  I just rode down the Natchez Trace Parkway a little (as in about 40 miles) and got some fresh air.  As can be seen by the photos in the second row the snow was pretty much gone by today.  There was some on the east side of the road and hills where it doesn't get a lot of sunshine but not a lot.

 
CUMBERLAND GAP NATIONAL HISTORICAL SITE - March 22, 2008
GPS Coordinates: N36.60250 W83.69582 -- 2006 Suzuki DL650
A relatively decent day for riding, albeit a bit on the windy side and a little bit chilly at times.  Regardless I rode to Cumberland Gap National Historical Site with a friend to pick up some National Park Passport Stamps that I have been meaning to get for the past year.  They have five stamps there so even though it was a 475 mile round trip that works out to only 95 miles a stamp!  I've ridden much farther than that for a stamp!

Cumberland Gap was the site of one of the major crossings of the Appalachian Mountains in the mid-18th century.  There were few easy (easy being a relative term!) ways to cross the spine of mountains that range from Alabama to Canada on horseback or with a wagon, and Cumberland Gap was one of those crossings.  Hunters, traders, pioneers, and even buffalo used the gap as a means for crossing from the east to the west side of the mountain range.

I left Nashville at 6:00.  As usual when heading east on I-40 I stopped at the Waffle House in Gordonsville, TN and then met David in Crossville at 8:30.  We took the back roads to Middlesboro, KY, of course, and got there about noon Nashville time.  We didn't stick around very long because I still had a pretty good ride to get back to Nashville.  I got home about 6:45pm so it made for a long day.  I wish I had had more time to spend at the park, David really wanted to see parts of it, but I'm not a big fan of interstates around Nashville at night on a motorcycle.  They are bad enough during the day but get even worse at night, and Saturday is the worst of all!.  As it was I beat sunset by less than 30 minutes.

The weather wasn't too bad.  It started out a good bit warmer than it was supposed to.  The forecast low was 49° but when I got up it was 58°.  I didn't complain much about that, but the wind did pick up some after about mid-morning.  Coming home it was windy and the temperature dropped dramatically.  When I got home the thermometer was showing 43°!  Still, all it all, it was a great ride and a lot of fun.  I also picked up 5 passport stamps and took another one off the list of places I have been wanting to visit on my bike.


GPS Track Log - 03/22/2008
 
STAMPS AND THE TRACE - April 5 & 6, 2008 - 2007 Honda VFR800
Last weekend was absolute junk as far as riding goes.  Rainy and windy and gray and cold.  I spent most of Saturday working on my bikes and most of Sunday on the couch.  This weekend was a bit better and I got out and played with my VFR.

Saturday - 04/05/08
I recently got a line on some Tennessee Historical Commission stamps that are similar in nature to the National Park Passport Stamps that I collect.  There are a number of them located in close proximity to Nashville so today I decided to get out and try to collect some of them.  I got five stamps (Belle Meade Plantation,  The Parthenon,  Manskers Station (2 stamps), and the Sam Davis Home) and got skunked on three more (Cragfont, Rock Castle, and Wynnewood) because they were closed.  Two of the sites that were closed were supposed to be open but most assuredly were not (see the photos below).  The third looked like a tornado went through it, and in reality I'm pretty sure that one did.  It is under reconstruction so I have no idea when (or even if!) I'll ever get a stamp from that site.

All in all a good day for riding.  Not great, not even as warm as it was supposed to be, but compared to some of our recent weather it was still a good one.  It was in the mid 40's when I left home with a high of 61° forecast.  It appears to have topped out at about 53° so once again the weather guessers missed by a mile.  Oh well, at least it wasn't raining and it wasn't windy so those were good things.  We never did see the sun but it is supposed to be sunny and 74° tomorrow.  Guess we'll have to see whether they get anywhere close to being right.  I'm meeting a friend at noon to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway and it would be nice to see some sunshine for a change.

Sunday - 04/06/08
Well the weather guessers were pretty close today.  It actually felt warm for a change and when I got home I was actually sweating a little.  I rode a bit over 100 miles around the Natchez Trace Parkway and around and about.  No particular direction, just out riding with a friend and it really felt great.  Bright blue skies and right at 70° for a change.  Wish it would stay like this, but it won't and I'll be griping about the heat pretty soon.


Belle Meade Plantation

Belle Meade Plantation

Belle Meade Plantation

The Parthenon

Centennial Park outside The Parthenon

Centennial Park outside The Parthenon

Manskers Station

Manskers Station

Manskers Station

Cragfont - Closed for some reason!

Rock Castle - Closed for some reason!

the Sam Davis Home

the Sam Davis Home

the Sam Davis Home

the Sam Davis Home

the Sam Davis Home

the Sam Davis Home

the Sam Davis Home

the Sam Davis Home

GPS Track Log - 04/05/2008
AROUND TOWN - April 12 & 13, 2008 - 2006 Suzuki DL650
I didn't get out and ride much this weekend.  I managed to do something to my back earlier in the week and it has had me tied up in knots for the past few days.  I did get out and ride around town a bit and managed to take some photos of something that has been annoying the hell out of me for the past year.

This backwater burg is governed by people whose credentials to manage a water fountain in the middle of a desert would be questionable.  It's amazing to me that in the 21st century we still manage to put people in positions of making decisions that affect other people's lives when they don't have the apparent intelligence to get in out of the rain!  To back these statements up I offer the following photographic evidence:

This nice brick sign is one of three that I am aware of that were constructed last year.  Looks like a good idea, doesn't it?  Nice quiet suburban area, nice brick sign to welcome people.  Looks nice, great idea, spend a bit of the taxpayers money for something useful for a change.
But let's take a closer look at things .....

Here's another view that shows where the sign is actually located.  Huh, you ask!  Surely that solid brick, 8 foot tall sign isn't located right smack dab in the middle of the intersection!

It certainly is!  I told you we had a bunch of really bright people doing the planning around here!  Someone in the government of this town approved the construction of a solid brick sign right smack in the middle of the intersection of Trousdale Road and Elysian Fields Road.  And believe me there is no way whatsoever to see through it!

But surely, you say, it isn't large enough to hide a vehicle behind!

Well, let's see ...   How about a Ford Freestar SUV?  No, not the black car at the left of the photo, look closer.  Click the image to the left and look right at the edge of the sign.
Oh, wait!  There it comes!

I only hope the person that approved this construction reads this.  Better yet I hope he has the opportunity to damn near get mashed while riding a motorcycle and turning onto Elysian Fields at the same time as someone else decides to turn left on Elysian Fields from the opposite direction.  Neither of us saw the other because of that damn brick sign stuck in the middle of the intersection but we nearly gave Southern Hills Medical Center some business!  Neither of us would have been at fault because there is so much traffic at that intersection at certain times of the day it is difficult to watch everything.  I was in a Yield lane so technically I would have been at fault, however there was a car behind me that went straight when I turned, and I didn't think the turning vehicle would try to beat him.  He tried, I couldn't see him, he couldn't see me, and we nearly met at the back of that damn sign.  Luckily I had enough power to get away from him so nobody got hurt.  This time!  I was lucky.

The person that allowed this sign to be constructed in this location is going to be the cause of someone getting hurt or killed.  There is no telling now many traffic laws, construction guidelines, roadway design criteria, and other regulations this thing violates yet we still allow people to approve and build them.  Think this is the only one?  It isn't!  There is another one constructed just like this about a mile away at the intersection of Trousdale Road and Blackman Road.  Your tax dollars at work hiring the mentally incompetent.

GREAT RIDE, LOUSY ENDING - April 20 & 21, 2008 - 2006 Suzuki DL650
My friend and riding buddy David asked me to take an overnight ride with him from Crossville, TN to visit his daughter in Highlands, NC.  Needless to say I jumped on that in a hurry.  I met David in Crossville at 8:00 Saturday morning and we headed east by the backroads.  We headed through Sweetwater and Spring City to Tellico Plains.  From there we headed across the Cherohala Skyway into North Carolina.

From there we headed further east in a roundabout manner towards Highlands, NC.  We rode alongside Fontana Lake for a long distance and some of the views of the lake and river are just fantastic.

 
We spent the night at the home of David's daughter.  The scenery around Highlands lives up to it's name.  The town is 4,100' above sea level and nestled in the mountains.  Just a beautiful spot.  I didn't get any photos of the mountains but here are a few from the driveway.
 

Monday we headed back in the general direction of home, but we went by way of The Dragon.  The Dragon is a section of highway 129 that runs along the west edge of the Great Smoky Mountains State Park and it is a very popular motorcycle road in this area.  The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap is at the south end of The Dragon and is the staging area for the road.  On weekends in the summer it is wall-to-wall motorcycles, but this early in the year, and on a Monday, there were not a lot of people there.  The Dragon itself was actually deserted and we rode nearly the entire 11 miles all alone.

 

I didn't take any photos along The Dragon since there are not a lot of good places to stop.  If you want to see photos of the activity along The Dragon check out KillBoy.Com or US129Photos.com.  They are there just about every weekend and have many, many photos of the motorcycles, cars, and the area in general.

One prominent feature of The Tail of The Dragon at Deals Gap is the Tree of Shame.  This tree contains bits and pieces of motorcycles that did not manage to "Tame The Dragon".  While I suspect it is meant as a joke it has a true purpose as well since it tends to remind those who are willing to see that The Dragon is not a road to be taken lightly.  It is a twisty, curvy, narrow mountain road and those who turn their backs on it can be bitten quite easily.

 

After The Dragon we headed back west toward Crossville.  Just west of Watts Bar Lake and the Watts Bar Nuclear Facility we were stopped in some roadway construction.  When the flagman let us go, I got about 1/4 mile or less and my bike died.  Literally.  It chugged a couple of times like it was out of gas, and that was it.  I knew it wasn't really out of gas since I had filled it up about 100 miles previously.  I pretty much ran the battery down trying to get it to run before finally giving up.  Luckily David had a motorcycle trailer at home so he rode home, got his trailer, and came back for me.  Right now it's still sitting in Crossville waiting for me to get it back home and to the shop.

While waiting for David I noticed the steam coming off the cooling tower at the nuclear facility, and realized how closely that steaming monolith resembled my own state of mind at the moment.

     

Oh well.  I'll get it home, and I'll get it fixed, and we'll ride some more.  503 miles from the time I left home to when it croaked.

Thanks to everyone for a great weekend.  Rachel, Christopher, and Oliver for the hospitality and a soft bed to sleep in.  David and Susan for letting me park my broken bike in their garage until I can get it back to Nahsville, and of course for the trailer ride back to Crossville.  It was a ton of fun right up the point that my bike broke!


GPS Track Log - 04/20/2008 - 04/21/2008
     
CLOSE TO HOME - MAY 4, 2008 - 2007 Honda VFR800
After not riding much the past couple of weeks I just had to get out and enjoy the sunshine and clear blue skies today.  It's been cool again this past week, Monday and Tuesday saw overnight lows just above freezing, but today it got up to 71°.

I decided to ride to Murfreesboro, TN (which is only about 30 miles from home) and grab a couple of Tennessee Historic Commission stamps for my Passport Stamp Collection.  They are at the Oaklands Historic Mansion and the Cannonsburgh Frontier Village.  The sites didn't open until 1:00pm and I just had to get out and ride earlier than that.  As usual when I have no particular destination in mind I headed down the Natchez Trace Parkway for a while, then came back up and cut across Highway 96 to Franklin and then on to Murfreesboro.

The Oaklands Historic Mansion is a beautiful Civil War era mansion that is very well maintained and manicured.  It is an oasis surrounded by the city of Murfreesboro, and I thought my GPS was losing its mind when it started heading me back through some housing areas.  As usual the GPS was right and I was wrong and it took me right to the driveway.  GPS coordinates of the facility are N35.84448 W86.39604 and a few photos are below.

 
After I visited Oaklands I headed on over to Cannonsburgh Frontier Village.  It wasn't a very long trip, only about 1.5 miles so it didn't take long.  This place is really cool and it just goes to show how some very interesting places that are worth visiting can be located close to home without us knowing anything about them.  One of the reasons I enjoy collecting Passport Stamps is that I get to visit the places and see them.  Some are not all that interesting to me but others are really fun to visit.  This was one of the fun ones.

Cannonsburgh is a frontier village circa 1800-1925.  The name Cannonsburgh was the original name of Murfreesboro, and construction of the village was begun in 1974 as part of the American Revolution Bicentennial project.  It is immaculately maintained today and well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.

Much like the Oaklands Mansion it is surrounded by the city of Murfreesboro.  GPS coordiantes in the parking lot are N35.84448 W86.39604.  There are many antique displays so if you are into that sort of thing this will really appeal to you.  Even if you aren't it is a great place to walk and relax and enjoy a few minutes of quiet time.


GPS Track Log - 05/04/2008
FORT DONELSON NATIONAL MILITARY PARK - MAY 10, 2008
GPS Coordinates: N36.48283 W87.86301 -- Honda VFR800
I collected the Ft. Donelson National Park Passport Stamps for my Passport Stamp Collection last year however I did not realize that they also had a Tennessee Historical Commission stamp there as well.  Today seemed like a good day to head that way, so I did.  It's an easy ride and I usually come back through Clarksville and stop to see my mother for a while.  Since tomorrow is Mother's Day and it's supposed to rain here (again!) it just made sense to me to make a trip out of it today.

Fort Donelson National Military Park at Dover, TN was the site of a major Civil War battle that began on February 14, 1862.  The park memorializes the soldiers on both sides of the battle.  It is rich in history, and is just an interesting place to visit.  I've been there several times over the past few years and enjoy the visit each time.

Personally though my favorite part is the family of Bald Eagles that flourish there.  There are a few photos of them below.  They are somewhat fuzzy because my camera was at maximum zoom and I was leaning against a tree trying to hand-hold it.  I never seem to have a tripod when I need one, and I have two of them at home.

Another couple of hundred miles on the odometer today, a good trip, and a visit with my mom.  What more does one need?  Next weekend should be a good one.  If the weather behaves I'm heading for Indiana to pick up a couple of stamps.


GPS Track Log - 05/10/2008
LINCOLN CITY & VINCENNES, IN - MAY 17, 2008
GPS Coordinates: See Below -- Honda VFR800
I headed north for Indiana today to collect a couple more National Park Passport Stamps for my Passport Stamp Collection.  I visited Abraham Lincoln's Boyhood Home in Lincoln City, IN (GPS coordinates: N38.11347 W86.99580) as well as the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, IN (GPS coordinates: N38.67783 W87.53534).  Other than a good bit of wind coming home (forecast at 25mph) it was a great day to ride.  When I left the temperature was 47° and when I got back home it was 77°.  It just doesn't get much better!  The total trip length was 468 miles by GPS so that also made it my longest trip on my VFR.

As always photos and a GPS track log are included below.


Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home

George Rogers Clark National Historic Park

George Rogers Clark National Historic Park

George Rogers Clark National Historic Park

George Rogers Clark National Historic Park

GPS Track Log - 05/17/2008
   
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND - MAY 24-26, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800
This weekend means something special to me because I have a very high regard for everyone who serves in the military.  I respect everything they do and I'm very grateful for everything they give up so that those of us here at home can live a free life.  Memorial Day is a date set aside to remember those who have given their lives in the service of our country.  I urge everyone to stop and take a moment during their weekend to think about that.  It is not the traditional start of summer as many think and it is far more than just a day off of work.  Take the time to thank those who gave their lives for us because that is all that they ask.

I actually started this weekend early and took off Friday to make it a long 4-day weekend.  Friday I needed to cut my grass and run some errands because I don't plan on sticking around home this weekend.  OK, I'll be here Sunday for the Indy 500 but that's about all!  Saturday I'm heading for Adamsville, TN to visit the home of legendary sheriff Buford Pusser to try and collect another Tennessee Historical Commission stamp for my collection.  Monday I'm not sure where I'll go but I am going to ride somewhere, you can count on that.

For anyone wondering about the status of my V-Strom after it Stranded Me a month ago, it is back home and appears to be fixed.  Turns out that one of the wiring harnesses got pinched by a clip on the bottom of the air filter box.  Over time the clip cut its way into the harness and would intermittently ground out one of the wires going to the ECU.  When it did the fuel injection, the ignition, everything was dead.  The guy who fixed it (thanks, Ray!) is a very, very good tech and it took him 6 hours to find and fix the problem.  I'd still be down there looking for it.  It's still relegated to trips pretty close to the shop (close enough that my AMA MoTow service will get it there without me having to push it!) until I get some confidence in it again, but I suspect it's fixed.  Truth be told, I'm just having a great time riding my VFR!

Weekend photos to come.  Check back on Saturday!

Saturday - 05/24/2008
Today was a bust in some ways and interesting in others.  I rode to Adamsville, TN to visit the Home and Museum of former sheriff Buford Pusser (GPS coordinates N35.23176 W88.38346) and try to obtain a Tennessee Historical Commission stamp for my Passport Stamp Collection.  That was the part that was a bust.  There was some sort of celebration or something going on and the place was a madhouse as can be seen by the two photos below.


Buford Pusser Home and Museum

Buford Pusser Home and Museum
   
I talked with the curator of the museum and while she said that she recalled seeing the stamp on some documents there she had no idea where it was.  Since the place was packed wall to wall with people I didn't feel like I could ask her to look for it.

I was also a bit disappointed with the museum itself.  While it does document the life of Buford Pusser it is just a regular suburban house in a regular suburban neighborhood.  I knew that before I went but I guess I expected more.  Oh well, it was a fun trip regardless.


Heading back east for Nashville I stopped in Crump, TN and took a few photos.  Those who know me well will have no difficulty at all understanding the subject of the photos.  Heading through Crump for Adamsville I noticed a lonely AH-1F Cobra helicopter gunship (serial number 70-16053) parked beside the highway on static display.  I heard it call out to me as I went by and promised that I'd stop and take some photos on the way back.

Aircraft are machines, just like any other machine, but to some of us they are so much more.  They are a part of someone's life.  The pilots who fly them, the maintainers who keep them flying, even the staff who keeps up with where they are at all times.  I looked at the cockpit and I could almost sense a phantom pilot checking his instruments as he brought the machine to life and a phantom gunner checking his armament.  I could sense the vibrations in the airframe and the banshee howl of the turboshaft engine as the helo became a living, breathing entity once again.  I could see the airplane rock slightly on its skids as the rotor brake was released and the rotors began to turn.  I could see the 20mm M197 cannon on its chin turret start to elevate and train as if it had a life of its own as the gunner exercised it and checked its operation prior to takeoff.  I could see the Crew Chief salute the pilot and release the airplane to him.  I could feel the thunder in the ground as the rotor bit the air, the pilot increased collective, and the monster lifted into the air, tucked its nose and lifted its tail to go Fly The Friendly Skies like the great bird of prey that it is.

Yeah, they are just machines but to some of us they are so much more.  This one will be junk someday but for now it is safe and on display for people who understand to appreciate.  Perhaps it will live a little longer in some of these photos as well.  Besides it is the Memorial Day weekend and to me this machine is a true veteran as well.  Stop by sometime and give him a salute.  He is right on Highway 64 in Crump, TN at the GPS coordinates N35.22210 W88.31971.  He sits in front of the Crump City Hall and could use a visitor from time to time.


Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship

I took Highway 64 east to Ovilla and picked up the Natchez Trace Parkway.  Since I went right by it I had to stop at the Metal Ford which, in my personal opinion, is the nicest place on the north end of the parkway.  The spot is right beside the Buffalo River and today there were a number of people swimming and enjoying the cool water.

Metal Ford on the Natchez Trace Parkway

Metal Ford on the Natchez Trace Parkway

Metal Ford on the Natchez Trace Parkway
 

I stopped further north on the trace at Garrison Creek, another of my favorite stopping places, and there were a couple of people sitting there talking.  As I walked toward them I had the feeling that one of them looked very familiar, and as I got closer I realized it was someone I knew from an engineering company I used to work for.  Not only that, it was someone I haven't seen in about 15 years since I left that company.  We caught up on events for an hour or so, and he headed south to ride down toward the state line and I headed north for home.  Robert, great to see you again, buddy!

All in all a good day riding even if I didn't get the stamp.  311 miles door to door and some airplane pix!  I also passed 5,000 miles for the year so far, and it's still only May!


GPS Track Log - 05/24/2008
     


Sunday - 05/25/2008
Not going to be a lot of riding today since it is the Indianapolis 500 race is today.  I've only missed watching this race a handful of times since I was a kid and today is not going to be one of them!  I may get out for a little while but most of the day I'll be prone on the couch watching the race.

Monday - 05/26/2008
I got a little riding in today, not much but a little.  At most 100 miles but better than nothing.  I was going to ride down toward Monteagle and then cut over toward Fall Creek Falls and hit Highway 30 through Spencer, TN.  That's one of my favorite roads in this area and it's relatively close.  Unfortunately the weather was uncooperative.

When I got up there was a big blob of red on the radar moving in this direction so I decided to forego a distant trip for today.  I sulked around the house for a while, checked the radar again, got my V-Strom out and rode to my office for a little while, came home, checked the radar again, sulked around the house for a while, and checked the radar again.  The movement of that big blob of red was so slight that I was certain that I had about 4 hours before it got to Nashville.  I hopped on the VFR and headed for the Natchez Trace Parkway to annoy the bicyclists.  Fair is fair; they annoy me by not adhering to the Parkway rules for bicycles so I don't see why I can't annoy them with my motorcycles.  Anyway my 4-hour forecast was off by about an hour and I got soaked.  Naturally, since I was confident I had 4 hours to play, I didn't take my rain gear.  Oh well, my bike has been cleaned up, my gear is drying out, and I've had a shower so everything is fine.  I actually enjoy riding in the rain sometimes.  I don't like it when I leave my rain gear at home though.


3:45pm Radar - 05/26/2008
The radar image to the left shows what it looked like after I got home and cleaned everything up.  About an hour ago I rode right through all that red junk!  The rain was coming down in buckets and the wind was really evil.  Not a good place to be on a motorcycle.  I was coming up I-65 and saw it just ahead so I jumped off the interstate and took Franklin Road to the north.  Wet is one thing, but wet in heavy wind on the interstate in traffic is quite different and I chose to take the slower and easier route (it was still a 55mph speed zone).  And for anyone who might be interested, it took my leather gloves 2 days to dry out!

This kind of weather gives me concern for those who have never ridden in rain or on wet streets.  They have absolutely no idea what to expect, how their motorcycles are going to behave, how little they will be able to see, or anything else.  I'm lucky enough to have a close friend who is a very experienced rider that made me aware that knowing how things are going to be in the rain is important to a rider.  Sooner or later everyone gets caught in the rain, and it is far better to learn what to expect under circumstances we can control than it is in the middle of rush hour in an unfamiliar town or some other poor situation.  The best advice I can give is to get it wet.  Put on your rain gear, get your bike out in your own neighborhood, and get it wet where circumstances are in your favor.  It's your choice, and I'm just passing along good advice that was passed on to me.

FORMER TDPC PISTOL RANGE - MAY 31, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800
I rode down to near Smithville, TN today to visit an old friend.  No, not a human friend but a "Place" friend, one that I haven't seen in a good while.  I was down there a couple of years ago and if anything it looks even worse now.  This site is a former pistol range and I was a member of a club that held IDPA pistol matches there a couple of times a month.  Even when there were no matches scheduled a bunch of us normally got together there on the weekends and had our own impromptu matches or just practice.  For several years, hot or cold, we shot down there.  There is no telling how many rounds of pistol ammo I fired at that range, but it was a lot.

The club was the Tennessee Defensive Pistol Club, and we had some pretty good matches at that range.  We were more than just a group of friends, we were also competitors with a great deal of respect for one another.  But it all came to a screeching halt.  In the photos below you will see a "Road".  It's actually just a path that is grown up.  At the end of this "Road" are the remains of an old house.  I say "Remains" because there is virtually nothing left except rotted wood, a sort of foundation, and an uncovered well just waiting for someone to fall into it.  The owners of the property claim that it is the birthplace or childhood home of some minor politician, and as such is a "Historic Landmark".  We used to have a gate at the main road, just to the left of where my motorcycle is parked, to keep people from getting into the range, but the owners of this cheesy "Historic Landmark" decided that this was unacceptable since it prevented people from being able to "Visit" their "Historic Site".  Keep in mind that this is a weed infested, junkyard with absolutely nothing resembling anything "Historic".  But small-town politics talk and we had to take the gate down.

The board of directors of the club unilaterally decided that this was unacceptable and we moved the range.  All we had to do was put up a fence, which is there now and was put up after we left, but to the club's BOD this was not acceptable.  Can you say stupid?  After that everything started falling apart, the "New Range" was a joke, the BOD started making decisions as to the club's direction without consulting the club membership, the officers resigned, and eventually everything fell apart.  All that is left now is some weed infested pistol bays and a few rotting benches and target stands.  Oh, and a "Porta Potty" that hasn't been pumped out in over 5 years.

One of the photos below shows a gated road.  After the pistol club moved out the owners of the "Historic Landmark" put up a gate to prevent people from getting to their "Historic Site".  Did I mention anything about small-town politics?  It's all about who you know and what you know about them.  If you know somebody you can get anything you want done.

There are a few more photos from when I was there in July, 2006 at This Link.

It sickens me to see what has happened to this place because I have so many enjoyable memories from there.  It sickens me to know what happened to the club because it didn't have to happen.  I sat there today and I saw a lot of faces; some of which I barely remember now, some of which I haven't seen in years, some of which are now gone forever.  I wish we could all get together and do it again, but that can never happen.  The best I can offer is that fact that I still remember the good times we had.


TDPC Pistol Range

Main Parking Lot

TDPC Pistol Range

Registration Area

County Road

Pistol Bay 1

Pistol Bay 2

Pistol Bay 3

Entrance to the "Historic Site"

GPS Track Log - 05/31/2008
   
CRAGFONT AND ROCK CASTLE - June 7, 2008
2006 Suzuki DL650
Summer is here!  No question about it.  I occasionally enjoy looking back on this page to see where I've been in the past few months and it amazes me how quickly my trips went from "Cold and Nasty" through "Nice" to "Already Hot".  Our average temperature this time of year is about 82°, and when I got home this afternoon is was 92° at 2:00pm.  This does not bode well for the remainder of the summer, in fact it technically isn't even summer yet.

Regardless of the temperature the V-Strom and I set of early this morning to try again to get a couple of Tennessee Historic Commission stamps that I did not get in April.  Both of the sites, Cragfont and Rock Castle, were closed for some reason when I was there in April so with nothing better to do today I decided to try them again.  I was going to ride my VFR since my V-Strom is still on my Not-100%-Trusted list after it stranded me a few weeks ago, but I'm pretty sure it's fixed and decided to take it instead.  Every mile I put on it adds a little bit more to the level of trust and I want to get back to trusting it completely.

I left early and stopped at a "Starbucks Of The South" (aka Waffle House) for some breakfast.  After I ate I realized it was far too early to head for those sites since they do not open until 10:00 so I decided to stop at Couchville Lake for a while and see what was going on there.  It is a great place for just taking it easy, so take it easy I did.

Couchville Lake is part of Long Hunter State Park in eastern Davidson County.  The lake itself is about 100 acres in size, and power boats of any kind are prohibited.  Even though the park adjoins Percy Priest Lake it is still quiet and peaceful.  I used to go there a lot just to unwind but during the past few years my visits have dwindled.  It hasn't changed much though and I still enjoy stopping by from time to time just to get away from the city.

If you compare the photo on the left that I took today to the one on the right that I took last year you'll see something is missing.  The covered pavilion that was at the end of the pier is now in the lake, or what is left of it is in the lake.  Last time I was there I didn't see any signs whatsoever of deterioration so I have no idea what made it fall, but it appears to have done just that.
There is a 2-mile paved loop around the lake that crosses a bridge on one end.  I headed out along the loop with no intention whatsoever of going all the way around.  I walked and walked for what seemed like hours and finally came across this milepost.  I'm not THAT badly out of shape, but motorcycle gear was not meant for walking very far in.  My Sidi boots hurt my feet, my Kevlar-lined jeans were hot as hell, and even my t-shirt (I did leave my jacket and helmet at my bike) was soaked.  I finally decided enough was enough, chucked my cigarette in the lake, and headed back the other direction (hmmm ... maybe I AM that badly out of shape!).

I am glad I decided to head back the way I came rather than going on around the lake because on the way back I ran across this chubby little girl grabbing a bite to eat.  She really is chubby, and since I know nothing whatsoever about deer anatomy, it's quite possible she is pregnant.  I think they give birth around this time of year, maybe?

Update: According to my resident expert:

Fawns usually show up May to early July.  The pregnant ones separate from the herd and stay in wooded areas to birth their 1-3 fawns.

So she probably is fixing to give birth.


Couchville Lake

Couchville Lake

Couchville Lake

Couchville Lake

Couchville Lake

Couchville Lake
   
She was completely unafraid of me; not surprising since anyone foolish to hunt deer in that area would find themselves buried under the jail.  Some of those photos were taken from less than 10' away.  I watched her for about 10 minutes before she dediced enough was enough and sauntered over into the woods.

I also ran across a chubby little squirrel out for a morning jaunt along the paved pathways.  He stayed right in front of me for a while, occasionally looking back over his shoulder to make sure I wasn't getting too close, but he stayed right on the path.  Everything was fine until a couple of people came along the path in the opposite direction.  He sat up, thought about it for a second, and decided to hightail it back into the woods.

We've had a relatively wet spring, and unlike Early Last Year when the water was so low, it is quite high right now.  As can be seen in the photo to the left it is up level with the walking path.  Although the photo doesn't show it the water was recently over the path since it was still damp.
One drawback to ponds in hot weather around here can be seen in the photo to the left.  When it gets warm the water in smaller ponds gets warm as well.  This causes algae to bloom and coats them with a green scum that makes them look like ponds of split pea soup.  Really nasty looking sometimes.
I huffed and puffed my way back to the beginning and got ready to head for Cragfont and Rock Castle.  Surprisingly it hadn't taken me a week to walk that mile, but only about an hour.  And a good part of that time was watching the deer and taking photos.

A few more scenics of Couchville Lake and we're off to Gallatin, TN and Cragfont.


Couchville Lake

Couchville Lake

Couchville Lake

Couchville Lake
I rode to Cragfont east of Gallatin, TN back in April to try to obtain a Tennessee Historical Commission stamp for my Passport Stamp Collection but for some reason the site was closed at that time.  It wasn't supposed to be, but it was.  Regardless, they were open today and I got my stamp.

Built between 1798 and 1802 Cragfont was the home of James Winchester and typifies late Georgian period homes.  It is built of limestone quarried on the site and trees cut from the surrounding forests.  Today it is a well-maintained tribute to the early 19th century.  More information about the site can be found at This Web Site.


Cragfont

Cragfont

Cragfont

Cragfont

Cragfont

Cragfont
   
I made another stop at Rock Castle in Hendersonville, TN to try and get another Tennessee Historical Commission stamp that I missed in April.  Like Cragfont, Rock Castle was closed the day I was there in April but also like Cragfont they were open today and I got my stamp.

Rock Castle was the home of Daniel Smith, a late 18th century surveyor who surveyed much of Tennessee, including Davidson County.  More information about the site may be obtained from This Web Site.


Rock Castle

Rock Castle

Rock Castle

Rock Castle
All in all a good ride today.  It was hot though and I only rode about 100 miles.  I did manage to get two stamps for my Passport stamp collection (unofficial since they aren't dated).  My last stop before heading home was the local Cycle Gear at Rivergate.  I didn't need anything, but what the heck it was a good excuse to look around the store.

GPS Track Log - 06/07/2008
     
DAY RIDES - June 14 & 15, 2008
2006 Suzuki DL650

Saturday - 06/14/2008
It rained off and on all morning, and I expected today to be a complete washout.  About 1:30 the rain quit, the clouds started breaking up, and the sun peeked out a few times.  I checked the radar and it showed all the rain to the east of Nashville so I decided to get the V-Strom out and ride a little while.

I didn't have any particular destination in mind so I headed over to the Narrows of the Harpeth State Park.  I was there Last August.  There really isn't much there unless you are into canoeing since the road runs along a shelf cut into the rock with a bluff going up on one side and a bluff going down to the river on the other.  There are places to launch canoes, but that's really about all there is there.  Personally I like it just because it's quiet and peaceful.

Not a long ride today by any means.  I cut over to the Natchez Trace Parkway and rode it for a little while, then headed back home.  About 100 miles all told but it felt good to get out and ride for a while.  Tomorrow the VFR and I are going somewhere.  I don't know where at this point, but I'm going somewhere!


GPS Track Log - 06/14/2008
Sunday - 06/15/2008
I was going to head east toward Monteagle this morning but got sidetracked.  I had breakfast with some other riders who invited me to head west with them.  They were heading for Clifton, TN and since Monteagle was just someplace for me to go so I tagged along with them.  We headed west in a roundabout way and wound up in Charlotte, TN about noon.  The rest of the group headed on west toward Clifton and I took the roundabout way back toward Nashville.  No photos this trip but I found some great roads and had a blast.  Thanks for the invitation guyes, it was great!

GPS Track Log - 06/15/2008
     
MISSOURI AND ILLINOIS - June 21 & 22, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800

What a trip!  I headed out early Saturday morning toward the west to get a couple of stamps for my Passport Stamp Collection.  These two were farther than I've ever ridden just for stamps.  One was in Van Buren, MO and the other in Ellis Grove, IL.  I got them, I actually got 3, and crossed a number of personal milestones while doing so.

Personal milestones are just that, memorable events that only mean something to the person who does them.  In this instance there were four on this trip; I travelled in my 9th and 10th states on a motorcycle (11 if you include Hawaii back in the 70's), this was my longest trip on my VFR, I eclipsed my longest trip in a single day (592.7 miles by GPS), and somewhere about where I crossed into Missouri I crossed 30,000 miles on motorcycles since I got my V-Strom in May, 2006.

But, back to the trip itself.

My first stop was in Van Buren, MO to get a stamp for the Ozark National Scenic River.  The GPS coordinates at the site are: N36.99990 W91.01460.  I got the stamp for Van Buren and also for the Big Spring unit so I did pretty good!  Emily, thanks for all of your help and the offer to take my picture, I really appreciate it.

Photos of the Visitor Center are below.  I was pressed for time and didn't get a chance to go to Big Spring, and that is something I regret.  As it turned out time-wise it was a good thing, but that is in the paragraphs below.


Ozark NSR - Van Buren, MO Visitor Center

Ozark NSR - Van Buren, MO Visitor Center

Ozark NSR - Van Buren, MO Visitor Center
 


From Van Buren, MO I headed northeast for Ellis Grove, IL to get a stamp for the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

Getting this stamp was a bit unusual.  I took the advice of my close friend "AGirl" (whose expeditions to get Passport Stamps are, to say the least, legendary!) and called the site the day before to insure that they did in fact have the stamp and that someone would be there on Saturday.  The gentleman I talked to at Fort Kaskaskia State Park was very helpful, he said that they do indeed have the stamp there, but unfortnately he would not be there on Saturday.  He said that normally someone is there on Saturday but that on the weekend I was planning to be there the site would be closed.  OK, this is a problem.  The next nearest stamp in Illinois is about 75 miles north in St. Louis, and that would tack 150 miles onto an already long 2-day trip.  Also, when reading the paragraphs below, keep in mind that St. Louis is to the north!  But then he said, "Oh, wait.  There is a copy of the stamp at the Pierre Menard Home just down the road and he will be there tomorrow!"  I may be back in business!

I found a phone number for the Pierre Menard Home on the Illinois Historic Preservation web site and gave them a call.  I got their voice mail so I left a message explaining who I was and why I was calling.  To my surprise the curator called me back in about 30 minutes.  He said that they did have a copy of the Lewis & Clark stamp there and that he would be there on Saturday from 9:00 to 5:00.  I AM back in business!

Pierre Menard was the first Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois, and this site is a semi-restoration of his home.  I say "Semi" restoration since parts of the structure are original.  It is a magnificent example of 19th century architecture, and kept in immaculate condition.

I got my Passport book stamped thanks to Andrew, had a glass of ice water also thanks to Andrew, and chatted for a few minutes.  Then I had to get headed back to the south!  Andrew, thank you so much for your help and hospitality.  It was greatly appreciated!

GPS coordinates of the Pierre Menard home are: N37.96072 W89.90469.  That is in the parking lot, right where my motorcycle is parked.


Pierre Menard Home - Ellis Grove, IL

Pierre Menard Home - Ellis Grove, IL

Pierre Menard Home - Ellis Grove, IL
 

Andrew mentioned when I talked to him on the telephone that they had been having "Some flooding problems."  He was NOT kidding!  The photos below show what he was talking about, and the photo on the right shows their mailbox nearly underwater.  Just beyond that row of trees is the Mississippi River.  Luckily the home sits on a rather high rise and the flood waters are supposed to crest in the next 24 hours so there should not be any damage to the site.


Pierre Menard Home - Ellis Grove, IL

Pierre Menard Home - Ellis Grove, IL

Pierre Menard Home - Ellis Grove, IL
 


Earlier, as I crossed the Mississippi River headed for the Pierre Menard Home, I noticed some truly horrendous-looking thunderstorms to the north.  I couldn't tell exactly how far to the north, and not being familiar with that area I didn't know which direction they typically move.  What I did know is that I didn't want to get caught in them on a motorcycle.  The Pierre Menard Home is north of where I crossed the river by several miles so I was already very, very close to them.  All I wanted to do right at that moment was to head south and get some miles between myself and those black thunderheads.  That wasn't going to happen yet though.

I did get a few miles south.  I got back to Chester, IL which is about 5 miles south of the Menard home.  There I saw a sign indicating that Illinois State Highway 3, the highway I needed to use to get farther south, was closed due to high flood waters and to follow the detour signs.  Great, that's what I needed to see when I'm trying to get away from those ominous looking storms.  So I start following the detour signs, and is there any question as to which direction they headed me in?  Of course not!  North, right toward the heart of the storms.  I followed it a few miles and decided that this was just not going to work as a detour for me.  I turned around and decided to find a spot to look through my maps and find a way south around this mess.  When I did I happened across this little covered bridge.  I have a friend who loves to visit covered bridges so this one is for you!  GPS coordinates are N:27.94783, W:89.76635.  I don't know the significance of it other than what the plaque shows, but it is a nice little bridge.  Right on Illinois Highway 150 east of Chester, IL.

Update - 06/23/2008 - According to my resident Covered Bridge Expert this is the Mary's River Covered Bridge.  There is some information about it at This Link.


Mary's River Covered Bridge - Chester, IL

Mary's River Covered Bridge - Chester, IL

Mary's River Covered Bridge - Chester, IL
 


In this part of Illinois there are not a lot of highways running north and south.  The locals could probably tell me a dozen routes I could have taken, but looking through my map book my best alternative appeared to be to head southwest back across the river into Missouri to Interstate 55.  I-55 runs north and south on the west side of the river, and I could pick up I-57 headed east toward Paducah, KY which was my next destination.  What I needed to do was get back on Illinois Highway 3 but somewhere along the way it was underwater and I wasn't going to waste a lot of time finding out where.  I really wanted to get back to Nashville tonight and riding around southern Illinois and Missouri in flooded areas wasn't conducive to that goal.

After detouring out of my way about 50 miles or so I got back to Paducah about 7:30pm.  I felt good and could have made it the rest of the way to Nashville, but the clear face shield for my helmet was in my basement (damn good place for it to be!) and all I had with me was a dark smoked shield.  Not the best thing for riding at night on the interstate so I decided to spend the night in Paducah.  Took a shower (God that felt good!), got some food, got some sleep, and headed home Sunday morning.

All in all a great trip and one for the books.  742 miles from door to door, visited two new states, got three new passport stamps, and had a blast!  That's what it's all about.


GPS Track Log - 06/21/2008 - 06/22/2008
     
SLOW WEEKEND - June 28 & 29, 2008
Not a lot going on this weekend.  I rode about 750 miles last weekend and next weekend will be about the same.  I've already ridden 1,600 miles this month so nobody can ever accuse me of letting my bikes sit idle.  Also, as can be seen in the section at the bottom of this page I've got several longer trips semi-scheduled.  I want to do a 4-day trip through parts of Arkansas and Louisiana (which will also catch the corners of Oklahoma and Texas), as well as a trip to Pensacola, FL.  These two will probably wait until fall when it is a bit cooler, and I may combine them into one long trip.  I'm not sure about that yet.

This weekend I'm just taking it easy and doing some maintenance on my bikes.  The front tire on my VFR was cupped pretty badly and coming back from Paducah, KY last weekend I noticed that the front brakes were feeling somewhat spongy.  So, among other things, I'm replacing the front tire on my VFR and bleeding the brake systems on that bike.  My V-Strom needs a bath and it needs to have the chain cleaned, lubed, and adjusted so I'm going to get that taken care of as well.  Additionally there is a good chance of rain on Saturday so it's just a good weekend to take it easy.

Early next Saturday morning I'm heading out on a 3-day trip to Dayton, OH with a friend.  We are planning to pick up 6 National Park Passport Stamps in Cincinatti, OH, Dayton, OH and Chillicothe, OH.  We also plan on spending most of Sunday at the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton.  Should be a great trip and I'm looking forward to it.

I did get out and ride a little this weekend, just up and down the Natchez Trace Parkway, because I needed to scuff in the new front tire on my VFR.  New tires are a bit slippery and I didn't want to head out on a 3-day trip on a brand new unscuffed tire.  OK, so that was just an excuse to get out and ride a little.  Like I ever take much convincing!

DAYTON, OH - July 5-7, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800
I've wanted to visit the National Museum of the US Air Force for a very long time.  I decided to combine that visit with a group of National Park Passport Stamps at the Wright Brothers sites in Dayton, the William H. Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati, OH and the Hopewell Culture National Historic Site in Chillicothe, OH.  It turns out that a friend of a friend is also an avid "Stamp Collector", as well as a rider, and I sent word asking if he would like to go along.  I immediately heard back that he would certainly be interested, we set a date, and this is it.

I took a LOT of photographs on this trip and trying to put all of them on this page would be a mistake.  The USAF Museum alone has over 200 pictures.  For that reason I separated the trip page from this page.  Here are the links:

I did include a few highlight photos below, of course!


Wright Flyer III

Aviation Trail Interpretive Center

Paul Laurence Dunbar Home

Huffman Prairie Flying Field IC

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Dwight D. Eisenhower's Air Force 1

Boeing B-52

North American F-86A Saber

F-82B Twin Mustang

B-36 Bomber

GPS Track Log - 07/05/2008 - 07/07/2008
ATLANTA, GA - July 19, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800FI

I had originally planned to head for South Carolina this weekend but decided to put that trip off yet again.  I've been trying to get back there since last summer and haven't made it yet.  I will one of these weekends but since I've spent a couple of weekends in the past month in motels I decided to just make a Day Trip to Atlanta, GA today to pick up three National Park Passport Stamps that I've been procrastinating over for a long time.  I don't particularly care for going to Atlanta since virtually every time that I do traffic is horrendous, usually due to road construction in one place or another.  Today was no different and lived up to my expectations completely.

My plan was to pick up a stamp at the Chattahoochee River NRA and then head south into downtown Atlanta to the Martin Luther King NHS for a second stamp.  On the way back north I planned to stop at the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield for a third stamp.  About the only good thing that can be said about this trip is that I did accomplish my goal in that I got all three stamps.

Traffic was horrendous.  It started going downhill about 25 miles north of Atlanta where the construction on I-75 started.  Luckily I got off the interstate to go to Chattahoochee River about 20 miles north of Atlanta so I didn't have to deal with it too much.  At least that's what I thought at the time.

I got the stamp at Chattahoochee River and then headed further south toward Atlanta.  I was hoping that since the Island Ford Visitor Center was east of the interstates into Atlanta that I could sneak in the back way.  It wasn't allowed to happen.  I got on I-285 West (I think) and went about a mile before traffic came to a dead stop.  I jumped off at the first exit I could hit and headed in the general direction of the Martin Luther King NHS.  I figured I'd get close and let my GPS guide me the rest of the way.  My GPS wanted to put me on I-75 but there was no way to get there.  Not only were they paving the interstate but virtually every single ramp to it was closed!  My GPS would tell me to turn right on such-and-such street, and when I got there it was closed or there was a detour sign.  I went through this 6 times before I finally managed to get to a point that my GPS decided to give up on the interstate.

Here is a GPS track log of my "Trip" through downtown Atlanta.  The image is just a thumbnail so to view a larger map click it.  The track log doesn't really do the "Trip" justice though since it doesn't show all the stoplights I had to wait through.  Atlanta has the longest traffic lights I have ever had the misfortune to sit through.  On top of that, if you hit one on red you better get ready to hit all the rest on red.  I honestly do not know how people who live there deal with this mess.  It is an absolute disaster.  I feel for you guys, I really do.  I thought the area around Nashville was bad but you have it even worse.

I finally got to the ML King site though.  I think I may have spent less time at this historic site than any of the others I have ever visited.  I was so fed up with Atlanta that all in the world I wanted to do was get my stamp, snap a couple of photographs, and get out of there.

After fighting my way out of Atlanta I headed toward the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield.  To get there I had to head up I-75 (yeah, the one that was being repaved) but at least the traffic was minimal.  Not real surprising since nearly every entrance to the interstate is closed!

Once again, I grabbed my stamp and a couple of photos and headed north.  I was hot, tired, frustrated, and just wanted to get something cold to drink and simmer down for a few minutes.  Needless to say my ordeal wasn't over just yet though.  Kennesaw Mountain is not far from I-75 so I stopped at a store by the interstate and got some iced tea to cool off.  While resting I happened to notice that north-bound traffic on the interstate was not moving at all!  Perfect!  That's exactly what I needed to see.  I looked at my GPS and noticed that I-575 was only a half mile or so to the east so I decided to take that a mile or so north before it veered around to the east and maybe get around whatever was causing the problem.  This turned out to be my one and only break of the day.  Apparently whatever was causing the traffic to stop was just south of where I got back on I-75 because when I got to the interstate there was virtually no traffic at all.  I hopped on and sailed north, very glad indeed to be leaving Atlanta behind me.

This was one of those trips that I can find very little good in.  It was very hot and humid, I spent most of the day snarled in traffic, and it was just generally a miserable trip.  The only thing missing was some summer thunderstorms and they were dotted all around me.  I managed to miss most of them but got a little damp in Chattanooga.  But, I acheived my goal: I got my three passport stamps.  I've been putting this one off since last year because I knew it would be an ordeal.  Now that I've done it all I can say is that I'm glad it's over and I don't have to go back!  Atlanta is a beautiful city but it is large, the traffic is horrible, and I have never been through there that there wasn't road construction causing nightmares.  Nashville is the same way in that respect but we are nowhere near as large as Atlanta so it isn't quite as bad.

The mid-south heat and humidity have most assuredly arrived in force now.  The forecast for the coming week includes 97° on Monday with heavy humidity and I just don't deal with heat and humidity like that very well.  It drains me entirely and I can't function very well so this may be my last "Longer" trip for a couple of months until it starts to cool off a little bit.  I'll still be out and about but will probably forego anything that keeps me out in the heat for more than a day.  I'm still planning on a long trip in late September but I'm undecided on which way to go.  I'll figure something out before I leave though!



Chattahoochee River NRA

Chattahoochee River NRA

Martin Luther King NHS

Martin Luther King NHS

Kennesaw Mountain NB

Kennesaw Mountain NB

Kennesaw Mountain NB

GPS Track Log - 07/19/2008
THC STAMPS - July 26, 2008
2006 Suzuki DL650

I decided to head out this morning and pick up a few Tennessee Historical Commission stamps for my National Park Passport Stamps collection.  They were all close by in Franklin, Columbia, and Hohenwald, TN.  It rained overnight and as I headed south the clouds really started to build up in the southwest.  I decided the smart thing to do was to skip the Hohenwald stamp since that was the direction the heaviest cloud cover was located in.

My first stop was the Carter House in Franklin, TN (GPS coordiantes: N35.91741 W86.87319).  It is a "A non-profit museum and interpretive center for The Battle of Franklin" and is a beautiful example of antebellum architecture.  There were lots of Civil War relics inside but unfortunately photography inside the building was not allowed.


Carter House - Franklin, TN

Carter House - Franklin, TN
   


From the Carter House I headed to the Carnton Plantation (GPS coordinates: N35.90656 W86.86375), also in Franklin, TN.  I didn't get a stamp there, it has been misplaced, but I did take a photograph of the home.

Both the Carter House and the Carnton Plantation charge a fee to view the facility so I decided not to visit the sites any further.  It's understandable since they probably don't get much in the way of state funds, and I'd be willing to bet they get zero funds from the federal government.


Carnton Plantation - Franklin, TN
     


I then headed a bit further south to Columbia, TN.  My first stop there was the ancestral home of President James K. Polk (GPS coordinates: N35.61500 W87.03720).  I did get my stamp at this site.  As with the previous two sites a fee was required to tour the facility so I decided to be on my way.


James K. Polk Home - Columbia, TN

James K. Polk Home - Columbia, TN
   


The next site was a long haul from the James K. Polk home, about 1/2 mile by GPS!  It is called The Athenaeum Rectory (GPS coordiantes: N35.61431 W87.04082).  It was a former Girl's School from 1852 to 1904.  It is a really interesting looking structure with very unique architecture.  They were preparing for their Bicentennial Celebration so I got my stamp and got out of their way.  Tony, thanks for the help finding the stamp!  I really appreciate it.


The Athenaeum Rectory - Columbia, TN

The Athenaeum Rectory - Columbia, TN
   

When I got to The Athenaeum Rectory there was a note on the window stating that everyone had gone to lunch so I waited.  While waiting I started wondering what it would have been like back in the 1800's when the area was much quieter, much slower, and much calmer.  Perhaps I would have heard the Tap-Tap of a gentleman's cane as he walked to the Rectory to visit a young lady, perhaps even a young James K. Polk himself since his home was only a few blocks away.  I would have undoubtedly have heard the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages carrying the well-to-do about their everyday business.  It would be interesting to take a trip back there to see how things actually were.  I guess that's why we preserve sites like this, so people like me can take a few minutes to reflect on what it might have been like.  Certainly nobody I might have encountered would have envisioned someone on a motor-driven bicycle showing up with a plastic bucket over his head.


Ah, well.  Enough day dreaming.  One more stamp stop for the day at the Rattle and Snap Plantation at Mt. Pleasant, TN (GPS coordinates: N35.56371 W87.15699) a few miles west of Columbia.

I got skunked at this site.  As can be seen in the photos there was a gate across the driveway so I couldn't even get to the house for photos.  Apparently they are pretty serious about their security to!


Rattle and Snap Plantation - Mt. Pleasant, TN

Rattle and Snap Plantation - Mt. Pleasant, TN

Rattle and Snap Plantation - Mt. Pleasant, TN
 


I was only about 10 miles from the Natchez Trace Parkway so I headed west to pick it up and head back toward Nashville.  Riding the Trace is relaxing and I just enjoy it.  As always it was a relaxing and enjoyable ride north.

I really enjoy days like this one.  It was terribly humid after our overnight rain but since I was close to home I didn't have to be in a hurry, I could stop when I wanted to and do what I wanted to do.  I picked up a few stamps, saw some historic sites, and rode about 130 miles or so.

I don't envy riders whose idea of riding is to ride up and down roads they have been on dozens of times before.  I enjoy getting out and going places, places that I haven't been to before.  I use my motorcycles to get me to places I've wanted to visit and interesting places that I never even considered visiting until now.  There are so many interesting places around here that I haven't been to yet it's hard to know where to head next.  To me that's what it is all about!  Tomorrow I'm going to get the VFR out of the basement and play with it for a while to!


GPS Track Log - 07/26/2008
     
FALL CREEK FALLS - August 3, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800
I made my annual pilgramage to Fall Creek Falls State Park today.  I don't really know why this has turned into an annual event but for some reason I went to Fall Creek Falls in August in 2006 and 2007 so I figured I might as well do the same thing in 2008.  August is a lousy month to go there since it's always hot and humid.  Next time I establish an annual tradition I'm going to pick a cooler month!

Regardless it was a fun trip.  It felt pretty good early.  I left home about 6:30 to beat the heat and stopped for some breakfast in Murfreesboro.  Then east through McMinnville and Woodbury to Spencer.  The road from Spencer to the park is a blast and this was the first time I have had the VFR on it so it was a learning experience.

There was some patchy dense fog between McMinnville and the park that was really nasty.  It was so dense it was almost like riding in rain.  The good thing is that it kept the heat down and when I got to the park it was still only about 70°.  It didn't last though and when I got back home about 12:30 it was already 88° and still going up!

Summers in Tennessee are not much fun.  In the morning everything is damp from the dew and that drives the humidity up.  We normally start the day with a temperature around 75° and 90% relative humidity.  By mid-day the humidity is down to about 55% but the temperature is up in the upper 80's.  By the time the sun goes down the humidity is down around 40% but the temperature is frequently well into the 90's.  The net result is that we start the day sweating and end the day sweating.  I worked outside for a number of years and looking back now I really don't know how I dealt with it.

Today was a good ride though, and a lot of fun.  Photos are below but they look a lot like the 2006 Photos and the 2007 Photos.  There was a good bit more water of the falls today than there was last year though so apparently we don't have the same drought conditions we did last year.  You can also see the haze in the air caused by our humidity.  Visibility is frequently less than a mile this time of year because of the haze.  If you look closely in the last photo below you can barely see some additional mountains in the "V" formed by the mountains in the foreground.  Compare that photo to This One taken on November 11, 2007 from the same spot.

On a completely unrelated note, my VFR will be one year old this coming Wednesday.  As of today when I got home it has 9,142 miles on it.  During the past year (actually it's only since May) it has been to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and (of course) Tennessee.  In a month it will head south for Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama.  Guess it's safe to say I like riding this bike.  Of course during the same time period I've also put 6,400 miles on my V-Strom so neither one of them sit idle for long.



Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls State Park

GPS Track Log - 08/03/2008
DAY OUT WITH THE BOYS! - August 9, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800
The weather today was forecast to be great.  A high temperature of about 85° and no rain at all.  For once they were actually right!  A rider from the VFR World Forum invited me to have breakfast with him and some friends and then go for a ride "Somewhere".  The "Somewhere" part was somewhat ambiguous and to be honest it just didn't matter.  Just being able to ride without sweat pouring off my face was an absolute treat.

We met at the Murfreesboro Airport since the EAA has a monthly breakfast there.  After eating and ogling the airplanes for a bit we headed north and east and north and east and south and west, and so on.  The GPS track log below tells the story but basically we just hit a bunch of great twisty roads between Murfreesboro and Crossville.  We stopped for a little while in Livingston, TN and then headed on further east.  We cut south through Crossville and then back along Highway 30 through Spencer, TN. and then back to Murfreesboro through McMinnville.  We split up in The Boro and I headed on back to Nashville.

325 miles for me today.  I only took a few pictures when we stopped at Defeated Creek northeast of Carthage, TN.  Unlike most of my solo trips we actually spent a lot of time on the road today and I didn't get many photos.

Great weather, great company, and a great ride.  That's what it's all about!



Defeated Creek - Cordell Hull Lake

Defeated Creek - Cordell Hull Lake

Defeated Creek - Cordell Hull Lake

GPS Track Log - 08/09/2008
CHATTANOOGA, TN - August 17, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800
I was supposd to go ride the Cherohala Skyway yesterday with a group from the VFR World Forum but I backed out.  My back has been hurting all week and late in the week it started feeling like a kidney stone (I've had 3 of them so I know that feeling!).  I didn't want to get caught 300 miles from home with a kidney stone so I backed out.  That doesn't mean I didn't go riding though!  I know, it was a little bit of a gamble given that I might get hit with a kidney stone, but I gave a bit of thought to the route.  I know people in several of the towns we passed close to so I wouldn't have had to go far to find some help.

I met a friend in Murfreesboro and we rode to Chattanooga, TN to ... well I don't know why we did, probably just because it was there.  On the way we stopped at Tullahoma, TN to look at the fighters they have on display there.  I didn't take any photos but they haven't changed much since I was there in June, 2007.  Here Is A Link to the photos I took then.

After mulling over the jets for a while we headed north to Hillsboro, TN and picked up old US Highway 41 and took it through Monteagle, Tracy City, and Jasper to Chattanooga.  Highway 41 from Jasper into Chattanooga is a really pretty ride with Nickajack Lake and the mountains for scenery.  Once again I didn't take any photos but Here Is A Link to some photos I took last year along the same road.

We got into Chattanooga, rode north for a few miles and picked up Highway 27 back west.  No reason to stop, other than for something to drink, since we really didn't have a good reason for going to Chattanooga anyway!

Highway 27 out of Chattanooga, also known as Suck Creek Road, is a fantastic motorcycle road.  Very twisty and relatively sharp curves but sweeping enough that you can get some speed up.  One or two switchbacks just to make sure everyone is paying attention, but really just a fast, twisty road.

We headed back northwest through Gruetli-Laager, Altamont, McMinnville, and Woodbury to Murfreesboro where we split up.  Kelly jeaded home and I headed for Nashville and home.  Once again an absolutely great ride and relatively decent weather.  A little warm during the afternoon but the humidity was pretty low so as long as we kept moving it was comfortable.


GPS Track Log - 08/17/2008
     
THC STAMPS - August 23, 2008
2006 Suzuki DL650

I haven't felt real great all week, nothing really bad, just a "Yukky" feeling.  I decided that what I needed was a bike trip so I headed out this morning to try and get a few more Tennessee Historical Commission stamps for my National Park Passport Stamps collection.  As usual I started with some breakfast at a Waffle House and then I headed east for Cookeville, TN.

My first stop was the Cookeville Depot Museum in Cookeville, TN.  This is an old railroad depot built in 1909 and refurbished through the years.  Now it is a railroad museum with numerous artifacts on display including a 1913 Baldwin 4-6-0 locomotive and cars.  The locomotive was originally owned by the Louisville and Arkansas Railroad and acquired by the Friends of the Depot Museum in 2002.  It was painted in Tennessee Central livery since the TCRR ran a number of Baldwin 4-6-0 locomotives.


Cookeville Depot Museum - Cookeville, TN

Cookeville Depot Museum - Cookeville, TN

Cookeville Depot Museum - Cookeville, TN

Cookeville Depot Museum - Cookeville, TN

Cookeville Depot Museum - Cookeville, TN

Cookeville Depot Museum - Cookeville, TN

Cookeville Depot Museum - Cookeville, TN
 


While at the Cookeville Depot Museum I saw this sign and took a photo of it for nostalgic reasons.  It reminded me of so many similar signs I remember from my childhood that are now long gone.  These big neon signs were constructed in place on top of buildings, and seeing one again brought back vivid memories from days gone by.  No peeling the sign face off and sticking someone else's up in its place, these big steel and neon structures were meant to stay.  They are part of a bygone era.  A slower, quieter, and more permanent era.

I did a little digging and this particular sign, while built in the 1950's, still works quite well.  Here Is A Link to a YouTube video of it at night.  Apparently the building below was the old Cream City Ice Cream company, but now is part of a retail center.


From the Cookeville Depot Museum I headed further northeast to the home of Sgt. Alvin C. York (Link to Wikipedia Info about him).  Sgt. Alvin York was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor near Chatel-Chehery, France on October 8, 1918.

The site I visited was his original homeplace in Pall Mall, TN and is a magnificently maintained site.  It is filled with memorabilia of Sgt. York's life and is a very interesting place to visit.

I did make one mistake though.  As I was leaving one of the rangers asked if I had any questions.  I thanked him and said no but that I was going to get my camera and take some photos.  I noticed that he had a State Park uniform on and it had "York" on it.  I assumed that this simply meant the Alvin York State Park, but when I got home and started writing this I found out that he was in fact Andrew York, the son of Alvin York.  Had I known that I could probably have thought of several dozen questions to ask!

I don't know what the tracked artillery piece is, but it was there, it had guns on it, so I took photos of it!  If anyone knows what it is please let me know.

Update: The artillery piece is an M-247 "Sgt. York".  It consists of (2) radar-directed 40mm Bofors guns mounted on an M48A5 tank chassis.  It was never successful and only 50 were ever built.  Details are on This Web Site.


Sgt. Alvin C. York Homeplace - Pall Mall, TN

Sgt. Alvin C. York Homeplace - Pall Mall, TN

Sgt. Alvin C. York Homeplace - Pall Mall, TN
 

Sgt. Alvin C. York Homeplace - Pall Mall, TN

Sgt. Alvin C. York Homeplace - Pall Mall, TN

Sgt. Alvin C. York Homeplace - Pall Mall, TN
 


From the Alvin York site I headed back southwest to the Cordell Hull Museum just west of Byrdstown,TN.  Mr. Hull was a Congressman, a Senator, Secretary of State, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and is considered to be the father of the United Nations.  He was active in national government from 1907 until 1944 when he resigned from office due to ill health.  This was in the era when we had an effective government, and Mr. Hull exemplified the qualities of someone truly dedicated to his position.

The photos below are of the museum.  His birthplace is slightly to the east and for some reason I failed to get photographs of it.  Brain fade, I guess.


Cordell Hull Museum - Byrdstown, TN

Cordell Hull Museum - Byrdstown, TN

Cordell Hull Museum - Byrdstown, TN

Cordell Hull Museum - Byrdstown, TN


I got skunked all the way around on Tennessee Historical Commission stamps today.  They had been lost at all three of the sites that I visited.  Two of them did have an "I Was Here" stamp that showed the name of the site, but they weren't the "Official" Tennessee Historical Commission stamps.  Oh well, who cares?  I visit these sites to get out and see them, to ride my bikes to places I haven't been before, and to enjoy the scenery in my area.  The stamps are secondary and if I don't get any I don't come home unhappy.

Today accounted for 275 miles and three historic sites I had never been to.  I saw some parts of my home state that I haven't seen before and had a great time doing it.  To me that is what riding a bike is all about.


GPS Track Log - 08/23/2008
     
LABOR DAY WEEKEND - August 30-September 1, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800 - 2006 Suzuki DL650

Saturday - August 30, 2008
I was invited to go riding with another VFR owner today, so I asked my friend Kelly if he wanted to join us.  He did so we met Mike for breakfast and then headed for the Center Hill Dam via Highway 96.  Highway 96 is a great motorcycle road and that alone made the ride worthwhile.  The company of kindred spirits just made it better!

Center Hill Dam is a hydroelectric dam over the Caney Fork River.  Construction was completed in 1949 and the dam is still generating 135 megawatts of electricity today.

After the dam we headed on up Highway 96 to the interstate and ran east about 5 miles to Highway 56.  This is another good road that cuts back across Center Hill Lake and runs into Smithville, TN.  We then headed for my house to pick up some parts for one of the bikes.  Mike had to head back home so Kelly and I decided to make a run down the Natchez Trace Parkway.  He had never been down it before but I somehow suspect that he'll be back.


Center Hill Dam

Center Hill Dam

A Trio of VFR's

GPS Track Log - 08/30/2008


Sunday - August 31, 2008
I rode to Clarksville today to visit my mother and then rode around Clarksville for a little while.  When I lived in Clarksville I ran a survey crew and knew virtually every road in the county like the back of my hand.  When I go back now I always enjoy looking around to see what has changed, what new development is going in, and so on.  I guess hanging around engineering companies for as long as I have has caused me to do that ;)

Not a very memorable ride, I just blew up I-24 to Clarksville, got some breakfast at the local Waffle House, and then went to visit my mom.  The ride home was more scenic since I came back through Ashland City and down River Road back into Nashville.  A little bit longer ride but certainly more scenic beside the river.  It was most assuredly hot and humid today though.  When I got home the Weather Channel was showing 91° with 50% relative humidity.  The humidity makes that 91° seem much, much warmer because you can't get away from it.  Even in the shade it is still very hot.

No photos today but the usual GPS track log is included below.


GPS Track Log - 08/31/2008
     
6 STATES, 4 DAYS - SEPTEMBER 13-16, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800
I took a little trip south to collect a few National Park Passport Stamps and to see the ocean again.  I headed out on September 13 and returned on September 16 after riding 1,800 miles in 6 states.  I took a ton of photos but rather than put them all on this page they are all on a page to themselves.

Here Is A Link to the trip page.

I've included a few photos below just to keep this paragraph from getting lost!

Oh, and the six states were parts of TN, AL, GA, FL, SC, and NC.

FUN WEEKEND - SEPTEMBER 27 & 28, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800 / 2006 Suzuki DL650
You'd think I'd get enough riding but I never seem to.  The weather this weekend was GREAT and I put about 500 more miles on my bikes.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

I made my third trip to visit the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, AL today.  Much like riding itself I can never seem to get enough of that place.  I had mentioned on a couple of motorcycle forums that I would like to go again so a couple of other riders joined me.

A full set of photographs is at This Page but I have included a few photos below to get you started!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Since I rode my VFR yesterday I decided to get my V-Strom out today to keep it from feeling neglected.  We headed down the Natchez Trace Parkway, another place I can't seem to get enough of, just because the weather was fantastic and I hadn't been out there for a while.

It was rather cool this morning, and when I stopped at one of the pull-offs I saw that some fog had settled among the hills east of the parkway.  The photos don't do the view justice because everything was backlighted since I was shooting into the sun and I couldn't get the hills to show up correctly.  I started to just include one image, but the lighter one on the left doesn't show the hills as well but the darker one on the right makes it look like it was much earlier than it actually was.

   

I headed on down the parkway and to my surprise I kept seeing trees that appeared to be changing color already.  When I got down to Garrison Creek they had really started to change colors.  It is very early in the year for us to see trees changing color and I suspect this is an indication that we can expect an early fall, and possibly an early winter.

 

The weather this weekend was fantastic for riding.  A little on the cool side Saturday morning heading down the interstate.  No, actually it was damn cold heading down the interstate!  It warmed up to the low 80's by the afternoon though.  Sunday morning when I left it was about 65° and was just right for a morning jaunt down the Natchez Trace Parkway.  Too bad it won't stay like this, it will either get hot again or get cold early.  I'm not sure which way it will go but regardless I'm going to keep putting in the miles.

A "ROCKY" DAY - OCTOBER 4, 2008
2006 Suzuki DL650
No, nothing happened.  I didn't run over a "Rock", I didn't dump my bike in the "Rocks" or anything, but it was a "Rocky" day.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous today so I had to get out for a while.  Not a cloud in the sky, about 50° when I left home and about 83° when I got back.  I decided that the V-Strom needed to get out for a little romp so I headed east on I-40 and stopped at my usual Waffle House at Gordonsville.  It was a little chilly heading down the interstate but not enough to be uncomfortable.  The hot coffee was welcome though.

It was also really nice not to be on a schedule for a change.  For the past few weeks it seems like every place I've ridden I've been on a schedule of some sort.  It seems like I always had to meet someone at a specific time, or I needed to get to a Visitor Center before they closed or I needed to get to a motel or home before it got dark.  Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy going places and I really enjoy riding with others but sometimes it just really feels good to be out by myself with no schedule except to go where I wanted to go and get there when I wanted to get there.

I was heading for White County and took Highway 56 across Center Hill Lake.  That is a really nice road on a bike, wide and curvy and a lot of fun.  A few miles off the interstate there is a Scenic Overlook (GPS coordinates N36.04448 W85.75118) and as I passed the sun was blasting down out of a clear, blue sky so I stopped for a couple of photos.  Sorry that they are a little bit washed out, I was shooting straight into the sun.

I was hoping for a little more color in the trees, they are really changing very early this year, but there isn't much.  There is some though.  Compare the three photos below to These Photos that I took at Couchville Lake on October 6, 2007.  Last year everything was still completely green at this time but this year there is some color starting to show.  You can also scroll up this page to last weekend and see the trees down the Natchez Trace Parkway.

 


I headed on down Highway 56 and cut across Highway 287 to Rock Island State Park (there's the first "Rock"!).  There are a couple of water falls there that are just beautiful.  I didn't take a lot of photos since I have several on my web site from last year (Click This Link), but I did take a couple.  GPS coordinates at the falls are: N35.80805 W85.63304.
   


I had to stop at the Rock Island Visitor Center to get directions to the falls since I couldn't remember how to get to them.  When I came out I noticed a plaque beside a tree.  The plaque reads "Angie's Tree" and is dedicated to the memory of Angeline Greene (1965-1996).  I never knew Ms. Greene but I think it would please her to know that someone thought enough of her to plant a tree in her memory.  It is growing right beside the Visitor Center so it is very well cared for.  It is also in a place where people who knew her can think of her often.
   


After Rock Island I headed north on Highway 36 and east on Highway 70 to Sparta, TN to visit the "Rock House" (yep, there's the second "Rock").  The Rock House was built between 1835 and 1839 and served as a frontier toll house along the Wilderness Trail.  My reason for heading there was that there is a Tennessee Historic Commission stamp for my Passport Stamp Collection.  It is an interesting place though and worth the trip.
   


I headed back west on Highway 70 through Smithville, and cut across Highway 96 to Murfreesboro for a quick stop at Sloans Motorcycle Superstore.  I needed some chain lube, and an excuse to browse a motorcycle store is always welcome!  After that a quick jaunt from Murfreesboro back home.

A great ride in absolutely perfect weather.  Clear and bright with just enough bite in the air to make it feel clean again.  Summer around here always feels like a sauna.  The air is hot and humid and wraps around us like steam.  In the fall everything clears up, the sun seems brighter, the air is clear and clean, and it's just great to get outside.  These are the days that I enjoy riding a motorcycle the most and I made good use of this one!  I've got one more long ride I want to make this year and I hope I can get it in before the weather starts getting wet and cold again.


GPS Track Log - 10/04/2008
     
FALL FUN - OCTOBER 12, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800
It got kind of warm today, up to 80° but it was still a great day to be out riding so I decided to just enjoy myself.  I had to meet a V-Strom owner in Monterey, TN today to take him a part for his bike so I decided to come home the "Fun" way.

I met Jason and a couple of his friends in Monterey and delivered his part.  We talked for a while and had a cup of coffee before they headed back to Knoxville and me to Nashville.  None of us planned on taking the straight-and-narrow home though.  They headed for Crossville via I-40 and thence along the backroads to Knoxville.  I headed slightly west and then dropped down Highway 84 to Sparta, Highway 111 to Spencer, and then Highway 30 to McMinnville.  Highway 30 around Spencer is one of my favorite roads in this area and I always enjoy riding it on a bike.

I do have to say that I didn't enjoy parts of Highway 84 though.  As far as the road itself goes it's a great one, I've been on it before.  It is, however, rather narrow with no shoulders and trees hanging out over the roadway.  Walnut trees!  I had never given it much thought before today but riding through a bunch of walnuts in a corner is a lot like riding over great big chunks of gravel.  It doesn't really inspire much confidence.  To make things worse there were a lot of leaves on the road and the walnuts were hidden in the leaves.  Most people can probably tell the leaf of a walnut tree from on top of a motorcycle but I'm not one of them.  It was fun when I could see but coming around some of the blind corners only to see a bunch of "Stuff" in the road was not a lot of fun.  I was glad to hit the area where the road had shoulders again and the trees moved back a little bit.  It's gorgeous through there with the trees starting to change color and peeks of the mountains in between but those damn walnuts kept me on edge the whole time.

I only took one photo today but it's one I've been wanting to take for a good while.  Highway 30 east and west of Spencer, TN has numerous switchback turns.  There was very little traffic today so I decided to stop on the runoff area right in the middle of one of them and grab a photograph.

As you can see you come down (or up) one side, make a 180° turn, and go right back the way you were coming.  It doesn't have a very large radius either so they do get your attention.

I picked up Highway 70 in McMinnville and took it into Smyrna where I jumped on I-24 and headed home.  225 miles in really nice weather and some gorgeous scenery.  That's the kind of day I enjoy.  Jason, it was great meeting you guys.  Hope you had a safe and fun ride back home.


GPS Track Log - 10/12/2008
     
TREES ALONG THE TRACE PART I - OCTOBER 18, 2008
2006 Suzuki DL650
I haven't been down the Natchez Trace Parkway to check on the leaves for a couple of weeks so I decided to make a run to Hohenwald, TN to try and get a Tennessee Historical Commission stamp at the Hohenwald Depot for my Passport Stamp Collection.  The trees were disappointing and I didn't get the stamp.  I've got several things going on in my life right now and I needed some time to think though, and riding along the Natchez Trace Parkway is the perfect place to do that.

As usual I stopped at a local Waffle House for some breakfast and then headed for the Natchez Trace Parkway.  It was actually on the cold side this morning, as in about 50° when I left home.  Fall temperatures are truly here but we haven't had any frost in the Nashville area yet.  I don't know about the outlying areas but judging from the trees there hasn't been much if any.

My first stop was the Hohenwald Depot (GPS coordinates: N35.54776 W87.55019) in Hohenwald, TN.  The depot was built in 1896 and has been reconstructed to its original appearance.  Unfortunately it was closed so I couldn't see the inside.  It is flanked by the Lewis County Museum of Natural History which was open though, so I spent a little while there taking some photos.  It is unusual and pleasant to see a Museum of Natural History in a county as small as Lewis County.  Many counties much larger than they are, with much higher budgets, do not have facilities like this for people to visit.  It's good to see them going to the effort to provide a place like this.


Hohenwald Depot

Hohenwald Depot

Hohenwald Depot

Hohenwald Depot

Lewis County Museum of Natural History

Lewis County Museum of Natural History

Lewis County Museum of Natural History

Lewis County Museum of Natural History

I headed back southeast to the Natchez Trace Parkway, and took it a few miles south to the Metal Ford.  I expected to see some color in the trees there but was quite disappointed.  Since it adjoins the Buffalo River I had expected it to be cool enough that the trees would be changing but there was very little color in them as can be seen in the photos below.


Metal Ford on the NTP

Metal Ford on the NTP

Metal Ford on the NTP

Metal Ford on the NTP

Farther up the NTP toward Nashville I stopped at the "Tobacco Farm".  For some reason I have never stopped at this site before.  I thought I had hit all of them in this area but somehow I had missed this one.  I suppose I never stopped at it since I was born and raised in this part of the country and have seen tobacco barns and tobacco farms all my life.  But for those who have never seen a tobacco barn, pics are below.


The Tobacco Farm on the NTP

The Tobacco Farm on the NTP

The Tobacco Farm on the NTP

The Tobacco Farm on the NTP

I stopped a few miles from Highway 100 to take a break and to my surprise there was more color in the trees there than in most places farther south.  Still not much, but it was still surprising to see a little bit of color in the trees closer in to Nashville than well outside of town.  Our "Heat Dome" usually insures that this doesn't happen.


Near Highway 100 on the NTP

Near Highway 100 on the NTP

Near Highway 100 on the NTP
 

Not much color in the trees at all and I didn't get my stamp.  But who cares?  It was a great day for riding and the Natchez Trace Parkway is always a good place to go.


GPS Track Log - 10/18/2008
     
MORE FALL FUN - OCTOBER 26, 2008
2007 Honda VFR800
I got an email from a friend yesterday inviting me to ride today and the weather was so nice I just couldn't resist.  It was a little cool when I left Nashville, to the tune of 43° but it warmed up nicely in the afternoon.  Too nice actually because I wore my heavy winter jacket and I started getting hot!

We met in Murfreesboro for breakfast and were joined by another rider.  After some breakfast we headed south toward Shelbyville, TN.

We stopped at Bomar Field in Shelbyville to see this magnificent Douglas DC-3 parked on the ramp.  This aircraft has the tail number NC17334 and first flew on March 2, 1937.  It was one of the DC-3 Flagships for American Airlines and is named Flagship Detroit.  There is a lot of information about the airplane on This Web Site.
We rode through Tullahoma and Winchester and headed for Sewanee.  The road up Sewanee Mountain is a great road, and we stopped at an overlook about halfway up to take a break and a couple of photos.  A beautiful view even though there is a good bit of haze in the air.

We headed across I-24 to Tracy City and picked up Highway 56 west.  This is another fantastic motorcycle road that took us through Beersheba Springs.  We rode north to McMinnville, TN, then south to Manchester, TN and back toward home.  A great ride and a great day to be out riding.  Our weather is supposed to change dramatically tonight and the high tomorrow is only supposed to be 51° so it looks like it's going to be an early winter for us.

Kelly, Tracy, thanks for the invitation.  I had a blast and hope we don't have to wait until Spring to do it again!


GPS Track Log - 10/26/2008
     
TREES ALONG THE TRACE PART II - NOVEMBER 2, 2008
I got a call last night from my buddy AGirl asking how the leaves were around here.  I told here that there was vary little color in them so far, but that it changed dramatically going north of Nashville.  I went on to say that from Nashville south it was dull and colorless, and that I really expected most of the leaves to just die on the trees without getting much color.  I rode down the Natchez Trace Parkway today just to prove to myself how right I was.  Luckily I don't make a living predicting tree colors because now I have to eat those words. I was completely wrong.  The last few days have seen a dramatic change in foliage color and they are fantastic right now.

I didn't ride far even though the weather was great.  I've been down with a cold most of this past week and just had to get out for a little while though.

 
TREES ALONG THE TRACE PART III - NOVEMBER 16, 2008
With only a few exceptions the trees that were so vibrant and gorgeous along the Natchez Trace Parkway two weeks ago are barren scarecrows now.  The bulk of the leaves are on the ground or being driven across the road by the gusty autumn wind.  There are a few trees with some color left in places that have been sheltered from the wind, but for the most part everything has the look of winter on it now.  It's as if everything is simply holding its breath waiting for the cold and the rain and the ice to show up.

I didn't even take any photos today since there was really nothing worth stopping for.  The colors were gone and the sky was milky blue from yesterday's clouds and rain.  The Natchez Trace Parkway is an enjoyable place to ride even without the color from the trees, but late fall is always depressing to me.  I love fall; the colors of the trees and the trace of cold in the air, but as I get older I really have begun to dread winter.  We don't get much snow in this part of the country so winter sports to us are foreign concepts.  Winter means nothing but several months of cold, wet sloppy weather.  There isn't much to look forward to and I really do not enjoy it at all any longer.  To make matters worse, since I started riding motorcycles again it means having to bundle up in heavy clothes and take short rides around the area as opposed to all-day rides to places of interest.

Oh well, I'll still ride when I can and enjoy it.  At least I don't have to park my bikes for the winter, I can still ride from time to time.

ANOTHER MONTH GONE - NOVEMBER 30, 2008
Another month is gone, and almost another year.  I didn't get out and ride much during November, and in fact rode less than any month since I've had my bikes.  It has been cold and rainy much of this weekend and tomorrow there is a forecast of a 70% chance of snow showers with a high of 38°.  Not premium riding weather but I did manage to get out a few times.

Hopefully I'll be able to make up for my lack of winter riding opportunities in late January / early February.  I'm heading for Arizona on January 30 to visit my close friend and riding buddy AGirl and others.  On Decmeber 2 I told her what my schedule would be.  On December 4 I got an email that told me what we would be riding for most of the week.  Three days will be a trip to the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, CA.  That will be a GREAT trip, in fact the whole week will be a great trip and I am really looking forward to it.  I get to visit parts of the country I've never seen before, and I get to do so in company of some close friends.  I'm ready!  Is it time to go yet? 

PLAYING IN THE COLD ON PEARL HARBOR DAY - DECEMBER 7, 2008
It appears that FDR was wrong.  December 7, 1941 did not live in infamy as he predicted, it apparently died of Political Correctness.  Today is the 67th anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor, HI and what little television I watched today never made any mention of it whatsoever.  Perhaps I'm being cynical and just missed it, but I doubt it.  Our new Politically Correct world doesn't like to be reminded of things like that so we try and sweep them under the rug by not mentioning them again.  I call that the "Ostrich Syndrome".  Stick your head in the sand and pretend nothing happened.  I wasn't even born in 1941 but I for one will never forget the 2,402 people who lost their lives there that Sunday morning.  I will never forget standing on the Arizona Memorial and thinking about 1,102 sailors entombed within the ship (yes, I did look up the statistics on Google, and yes, I have been to the Arizona Memorial).  I will never forget seeing drops of bunker oil rising to the surface as if the ship was still bleeding and mourning her losses.  Anyone who can stand on the deck of that memorial and not feel something is not human.  The hell with Political Correctness, I refuse to let them be forgotten.  Pearl Harbor Day may not be a recognized day of remembrance but it is a special one to me.

I just had to get that off my chest.

I decided to brave the cold weather and get out and ride a while today.  And it was cold!  When I left home it was 23° and when I got back home it had warmed to a sultry 32°.  I only rode about 80 miles or so but it actually felt pretty good.  The air was crisp and clear, the sun was out, and other than cold toes it was great to get out and ride some.  Strangely enough I only saw one other motorcycle out.  I wonder why.

I have pretty good cold-weather riding gear so the cold generally doesn't bother me that much.  My only problem comes from the bulkiness of my gear.  It makes it hard to turn my head to look left and right at intersections and it just generally makes me feel clumsy.  It's worth it not to be cold though, and really the only thing that does get cold is my toes.  I have some electrically heated socks but they are so painful to wear I'd rather put up with the cold.

Only 54 more days until I head west for a romp in the desert!  THAT is going to be a great trip and I can hardly wait!

PLAYING IN THE COLD - DECEMBER 13-14, 2008
It is rides like this that make me very glad I have good cold weather riding gear.  I rode to Clarksville, TN on Saturday to spend the night with my mother and came home Sunday morning.  It's about 60 miles each way which is no big deal most of the time.  Both trips this weekend the thermometer on my VFR showed that it was 41°.  Running down I-24 that equates to 25° of wind chill.  Add to that a 15 mph crosswind coming back home and it made for a pretty rough ride.  It still felt good to get out and ride some though, it just clears my head of other thoughts and problems and allows me to focus on the ride itself.

My cold weather gear does a great job though.  I didn't get cold in the slightest going either direction.  The problem is the bulk.  By the time I get it all on I can barely move and it makes the effects of the wind even worse.

CHRISTMAS RIDE - DECEMBER 25, 2008
My favorite day of the year is December 26 because Christmas is as far in the future as it can possibly be.  Christmas this year was, if anything, more depressing than usual.  The only thing good about it, from my point of view, was that for the first time in a week the sun was out and it wasn't terribly cold.  To try and clear the cobwebs out of my head I got out and rode my bike for a while.

Winter in Tennessee is depressing in and of itself.  Everything is brown and dead, the sky is normally slate grey and heavy with moisture.  We get a great deal of rain this time of year but luckily the temperatures are normally mild enough that it doesn't turn into snow.  Today was unusual in that the sun was out and the sky mostly clear for a change.

I rode down the Natchez Trace Parkway for a while, and then rode back into Nashville and stopped at Centennial Park for a little while.  There is an F-86L mounted on a pedestal at Centennial Park that, for some reason, always cheers me up a little bit.  I think it's because of the way that it is mounted.  It's mounted in a nose-high attitude and looks like it is climbing out after making a low pass on the park.  I get the impression that even after all these years he still enjoys the freedom of flight.  Being a former pilot myself I can understand and respect that, and I think that solitary freedom is a lot of what I enjoy about riding motorcycles.

Regardless, after riding about 80 miles I felt a little bit better, a little bit colder, and like I could face the remainder of Christmas day so I headed back home.  It's supposed to start raining again tomorrow, as it has virtually every day for the past couple of weeks, so I'm going to finish up some winter maintenance on my bikes.  If it isn't too cold, the forecast is for close to 70°, I may give them both a much-needed bath and a little bit of wax.

 
POST-CHRISTMAS RIDE - DECEMBER 26-28, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
There was a good chance of rain today so I didn't ride very far, but it was just too warm not to get out and ride for a little while.  We don't get many days in late December when the temperature hits 65° so I just couldn't waste it.

I rode to Couchville Lake at Long Hunter State Park to enjoy the silence for a little while, but apparently a number of others had the same idea.  It was a constant parade of cars coming in and going out so I decided to move on.  The wind was picking up and it looked a lot like rain anyway.


Couchville Lake at Long Hunter State Park

Couchville Lake at Long Hunter State Park
   
I headed back in the general direction of home but then decided I didn't really want to go home.  I rode over to the airport to watch the airplanes for a little while.  Nothing really interesting came in or went out, but I love airports and airplanes so I took a few photos anyway.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4

Frontier Airlines Airbus 318-111

Frontier Airlines Airbus 318-111

Learjet Model 45
 
Saturday, December 27, 2008
What a waste.  Seldom do we get a day between Christmas and New Year when the temperature is 70°.  I guess that just to make up for sending a decent day our way, the weather gods felt compelled to make it windy as hell.  The forecast was for 20-30 mph gusting to 40 mph.  I didn't get out of the house but I had my basement door open and that wind forecast was probably pretty close at times.  I did manage to get both of my bikes cleaned up though so I accomplished something.

Sunday, December 28, 2008
Today was probably my last chance for a ride in 2008 so I took advantage of it.  The rain came down in buckets late last night but a cold front blew through and left us with sparkling clear skies even though it was a little bit cool.  Not cold just cool.  When I left home it was 42° and warmed up to about 48°.  Still not too shabby for the end of the year.

I didn't ride far, just headed down the Natchez Trace Parkway which is usual for me when I have no place to go.  I love the quiet serenity that the Parkway provides, and just really enjoy riding there.  There is very little traffic, and most of what is there is bicycles.  There are a couple of places that I ride to and just sit and listen to the silence.  There are two things that living in a large city causes me to miss the most; it is never quiet and it is never dark.  I enjoy the silence of the Parkway every chance I get, and today was my last chance for this year.

It is supposed to be clear and comparatively mild this coming week so hopefully I'll get to ride to work some.  A few more miles in 2008 but it's pretty much over now.  Bring on 2009 though!  Only 32 more days until I head west for a romp in the desert, and I am more than ready to go!

END OF YEAR - DECEMBER 31, 2008
Coast to coast across the USA the prefered route distance from Monterey, CA to Virginia Beach, VA, both of which are on the same degree of latitude as Nashville, TN is right at 3,000 miles.  I have ridden enough this past year to make that trip 5 times with some miles left over.  I don't consider myself to be a prolific rider though and I just ride when I can and go when I want to go.  While some of those 15,000+ miles were "Just Out Riding" or riding to work the majority of them were going "Someplace".  The context of "Someplace" in this instance means simply that I had a specific destination in mind when I left home, or in other words I simply wanted to visit something.

The 2008 riding season is coming to a close now, and one of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this year was to get out and see parts of this country from a motorcycle.  I accomplished that goal to my satisfaction.  I visited parts of 11 states on my motorcycles, and visited over 50 National and State Historic Sites or other interesting sites.  In one day I went from the sultry hot of the Atlantic Ocean at Tybee Island, GA to the misty cool of the Smoky Mountains at Asheville, NC.  I visited the homes of Presidents and Statesmen and I visited the Museum of the United States Air Force.  I saw the place where aviation was born in Dayton, OH and I saw the place where Alvin York was born in Pall Mall, TN.  I saw so many sites this past year that it's hard to keep them all straight in my mind but at the same time I'll never forget them.

I won't go so far as to say that I enjoyed every single mile because some of them were cold, hot, wet or otherwise miserable.  I will say that I wouldn't trade them for anything because cold or hot or wet they are all part of the overall experience.  When I get to my destination and warm up, cool off, or dry off the discomfort is quickly forgotten but the memory of the trip lasts forever and that makes it all worthwhile.

Traveling on a motorcycle is a joy that most people will never experience or understand.  I think all of us who do, though, understand how much closer it brings us to our surroundings.  The wet and cold and heat are obvious but there are also the smells and the sounds and the sights.  Everything is just so much more intense from a motorcycle than the sealed environment of car that there is just no comparison.  It is something that must be experienced to be understood and appreciated.  I'm fortunate enough to have enjoyed this experience, and it is something that I plan to continue doing.

I'm already planning some trips for 2009 and waiting for the weather to let me get out and start all over again.  I would love to travel parts of the original Route 66, and that just might happen in 2009.  I'll have to wait and see, but if you happen to see a red Suzuki V-Strom or a red Honda VFR with Tennessee plates out on the road somewhere it may well be me!

So long, 2008!  Thanks for the memories.

UPCOMING TRIPS

Below is a tentative listing of places I would like to visit it 2009.  I may or may not get to visit all of them but I am certainly going to try.

Arizona & California Trip Complete (01/31-02/06) - Click Here!
General George Patton Museum Trip Complete (04/25) - Click Here!
New River Gorge - Beckley & Fayetteville, WV Trip Complete (05/23) - Click Here!
Naval Aviation Museum Pensacola, FL
Gulf Islands National Seashore Pensacola, FL
USS Cairo Museum Vicksburg, MS
Southern Museum of Flight - Birmingham, AL Trip Complete (07/18) - Click Here!
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Mobile, AL
National Historic sites around Richmond, VA
Wright Brothers Monument - Site of First Flight Kitty Hawk, NC
Cape Hatteras National Seashore Nags Head, NC
USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial Wilmington, NC
Hot Springs National Park Trip Complete (10/02) - Click Here!
National Historic sites around New Orleans, LA
Portions of the original Route 66 Trip Complete (10/18) - Click Here!
Fall Trip through the western states again Trip Complete (10/18) - Click Here!
YEAR TO DATE STATISTICS - Through December 31, 2008
2008 Miles Ridden: 15,695 mi (Suzuki DL650: 5,540 - Honda VFR800FI: 10,155)
Most Miles In A Day: 605 mi (09/13/08)
Longest Multi-Day Trip: 1,800 mi (09/13 - 09/16)
States Visited: 11 (TN, KY, NC, IN, MO, IL, OH, GA, AL, FL, SC)
RIDE MAPS

May 2, 2006 - December 31, 2006

January 1, 2007 - December 31, 2007

January 1, 2008 - December 31, 2008
 


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