2009  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, 2009 - SUZUKI DL650
This year is starting out a lot nicer than 2008 did.  It topped out about 49° today and even though it was a bit windy it was still a nice day for a ride.  It is said that what we do on the first day of a month we will do all day long, and what we do on the first day of the year we will do all year long.  I hope that's true because if it is I can look forward to a lot of riding this year.

It started out cold though, as in about 21°, so I hung around home until about noon.  I headed south for Chapel Hill, TN and then cut west across to Columbia, TN.  I stopped in Columbia for a cup of hot coffee and then headed further west to the Natchez Trace Parkway about 45 miles south of Nashville.  Then north up the Parkway to Highway 100 and east back home.  A big 130 mile loop with no place to go but wherever my bike was pointed.
GPS Track Log - 01/01/2009

A new year is something like a blank canvas, it isn't anything until you make something of it.  2009 will be my 4th year back on a bike and I intend to make it the best so far.  2006 was only a partial year and it was primarily a "Learning Experience".  2007 was a great year with 15,765 miles in 7 states and a multi-day trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway through North Carolina.  2008 was even better albeit with virtually the same number of miles.  In 2008 I rode 15,695 miles and visited 11 states.  I took several multi-day trips, the longest of which was an 1,800 mile jaunt to St. Augustine, FL and back up through South Carolina.  And now here we are at the beginning of 2009.  A clean slate ready to be used.

I intend to get 2009 off to a flying start.  February is usually one of the months that I don't get much riding in because of the weather, but this year is going to be different.  I catch a plane on January 30 for a week in the desert with some friends who live in Arizona, friends who have a spare bike I can ride.  I arrive in Phoenix at 8:30 Friday night and we head out bright and early Saturday morning for San Simeon, CA and the Hearst Castle.  We'll be back in Arizona the first of the week, and I'm not sure what's on tap for the remainder of the week.  All I know is that it will involve riding around the area, seeing sights and places I've never seen before.  Personally I'd like to leave right now!


  Even though this has nothing to do with today's ride I thought I'd throw it in anyway.  I happened to run across this photograph recently and scanned it.  It was taken in September, 1965 and is a photo of me on my first "Real" motorcycle.  Before that I had an Allstate MoPed.  I was 13 at the time and the bike is a Honda C200 (Honda "90").  There is no telling how many miles I put on that little bike but looking at it now really brings back a lot of memories.  Just thought I'd share it ;)

     
RAINY DAYS -- January 4, 2009 - SUZUKI DL650
Today's forecast was for a 30% chance of rain but it was so nice and warm I decided to ignore the chance of rain and get out and ride for a while.  It was about 62° when I left home about noon and even though it was cloudy it wasn't raining.

I headed down I-24 to Smyrna and then cut across Highway 266 to Highway 96.  Highway 96 just west of Cannon County is partially in a picturesque little valley surrounded by the hills that enclose Center Hill Lake.  I've been through there many times and have always thought it was a pretty little place.  Today I decided to stop and shoot a couple of photos just outside Milton, TN.

I continued on across Highway 96 to Highway 70 and cut back north.  Watertown is another little town that I have always thought was a pretty little place so I stopped and grabbed a couple of photos of it as well.

I headed on north with the intention of cutting back towards Nashville by way of the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, but when I turned off of Highway 70 the rain hit.  I reluctantly pulled my rain coat out of my tail bag, luckily I had brought it with me, only to find out that the zipper was messed up and it wouldn't zip.  At least it kept the rain off of most of me but I did get wet right in the middle.

Other than the rain a nice day of riding.  I don't mind the rain most of the time, but when it sneaks up on me and I don't have rain gear or when my rain gear malfunctions I hate it!  Oh well, I'm dry and warm now and I have a new rain coat on order from Newenough.Com so it's all good ;)



Highway 96 at Milton, TN

Highway 96 at Milton, TN

Highway 96 at Milton, TN
 

Highway 70 at Watertown, TN

Highway 70 at Watertown, TN

Highway 70 at Watertown, TN

GPS Track Log - 01/04/2009
CLOSE TO HOME -- January 11, 2009 - SUZUKI DL650
I don't know what it takes to get a decent weekend around here.  Spring, I guess.  Today didn't qualify for "Nice" by any stretch of the imagination.  It was 31°, cloudy, and windy when I left home about 10:00.  When I got back home about noon the only difference was that it had warmed up one degree to 32°.  To make matters worse it rained hard all day yesterday and there was water on the roads in many places.  31° and water on the roads does tend to make me nervous when riding a motorcycle.

But, I did get out and ride a little bit.  Not much, only about 30 miles or so, but at least I got out of the house for a little while.

I wanted to get out and play with my camera for a while so I rode over to Centennial Park and took a bunch of photographs.  It's a nice place when the sun is out and the temperature is above freezing.  The animals there are completely unafraid of humans.  The birds flock to the people in hopes of getting something to eat.  The squirrels sit on their back feet with their little paws crossed across their chests and just look so unhappy until someone throws them something to snack on.  I love animals and being able to get up close to them to take photos is a treat for me.  I just wish there had been a bit more sunlight so I could have gotten better saturation of their colors and shot at a little higher shutter speed and depth of field.  Oh well, guess I'll have to make another trip over there when the weather is nicer!



Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN

Centennial Park - Nashville, TN
 
CLOSER TO HOME AND THE NTP -- January 17 & 18, 2009
I went to Radnor Lake State Park today.  The park is only about 4 miles from my home so it certainly doesn't count for much in a trip log, but it is still a nice place to visit.

Radnor Lake can be a really pretty place at times but today was not one of them.  It was a typical blustery winter day in Tennesse; cold, grey, lifeless, and windy.  But in many respects cold, grey, and lifeless describes Radnor Lake to a "T".

Radnor Lake is not just a State Park it is a "State Natural Area".  If the tree huggers around here had their way this would translate into "Stay the hell away from our area."  The list of rules informing visitors of what they cannot do is voluminous.  Stay on the trails, no running or jogging on the trails, no pets on the trails, do not pick the flowers, do not feed the wildlife, no fishing, no hunting, no camping, no boating, no motor vehicles, no this, no that, no nothing.  Just stand in one place and try not to breathe too hard.  Even the "Motorcycle Parking" in the parking lot is a contradiction.  It is labeled "Motorcycles", isn't even large enough for a single motorcycle, and has a "No Parking" bollard prominently in front of it.  What it boils down to is that it is a "Park" for a selected few and nothing more than a walking trail for everyone else.

But, I digress.  It's just that every time I go there I'm reminded of the song "Signs" by the Five Man Electrical Band.

As I said Radnor Lake can be a beautiful place.  Today the lake was mostly iced over, and the ice formed some really interesting formations by the edge of the water.  Unfortunately I couldn't get any good photos of it (I got some photos, just not "Good" ones) because when I dared walk off the trail to take some photos I was summarily told by a Park Ranger to NOT get off the trail again (actually she was quite nice about it and only doing her job, but it still annoyed me).

The photos below tell the story of Winter in Tennessee.  Everything is earthtones; grey and brown with a touch of green here and there.  A little white contrast from the ice around the water as well, but that's about it.

I ran across a couple of Whitetailed Deer foraging for a bite to eat.  They were content to graze and keep one eye on me so I got a few photos of them.  Naturally I had the wrong lens on my camera so the photos of them were taken at high resolution with a 55mm lens.  I cropped and resized them which explains why they are a little on the fuzzy side.  Not the best photos I've ever taken but not the worst either ;)

There was a lot of evidence of Beavers cutting down trees to.  I had to wonder each time I saw one gnawed down whether or not the Rangers fined them for picking foliage.

Two more weeks and I'm outta here for a romp in the desert!  I am so looking forward to riding without freezing and being able to go more than a few miles without stopping to warm up.  I miss the sun and warmth and am already getting tired of cold and grey.  I am really ready for this winter to be over with.



Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN

Radnor Lake - Nashville, TN
I'm still trying to figure out this last one.  OK, I can understand church services and weddings, but musical instruments?  I guess if you want to stroll along and quietly play an accoustic guitar you are asking for a citation from the Park Cops.  I guess though, when I stop and think about it, I don't really know why I find that surprising.  Pretty much everything else is against the rules there so why should that be any different?  What's next guys?  Going to ban cell phones or MP3 players as well?  How about people talking too loudly and annoying some species of plant!

Sunday was a little bit warmer, as in the mid 40's, so I rode down the Natchez Trace Parkway to Fall Hollow.  Fall Hollow is a pretty little spot on the east side of the Parkway.  There are a couple of small water falls fed from a creek.  Today the upper fall was iced over and if I had brought my good camera I could have gotten some interesting photos.  My Sony DSC-H9 only goes to f8 and that normally doesn't allow a slow enough shutter speed to add the feathery effect to flowing water.

One thing we have been having lately, in addition to bitter cold weather, have been some fantastic blue skies and sunsets.  When the sun came out for a while today the sky was as blue as I've ever seen it around here.  During the summer months it is so hazy around here that the sky is always a milky blue color.  Only in the winter when the humidity is low do we get these brilliant blue skies.

Wednesday night a cold front came through and on my way home from work I noticed the clouds starting to roll in.  I thought it might be a pretty sunset so I got my camera out and wasn't disappointed.  The bottom row of photos gives an idea of what it was like.



Fall Hollow on the Natchez Trace Parkway

Fall Hollow on the Natchez Trace Parkway

Fall Hollow on the Natchez Trace Parkway

Fall Hollow on the Natchez Trace Parkway

Sunset - January 14, 2009

Sunset - January 14, 2009

Sunset - January 14, 2009
 
ARIZONA AND CALIFORNIA -- January 30 - February 6, 2009
1,961 miles by odometer around the desert and mountains of Arizona and California for a week!  Six National Park Passport Stamps, mountains, desert, ocean, castles, the company of some of my favorite people, you name it.  What a trip and what a RIDE!  I split the trip up by days since there are about 350 photographs for the whole trip.

Click Here For The Ride Report

GRAY SKIES AND WATERFALLS - February 14, 2009
2006 Suzuki DL650
I was on a mission today.  While I was in Arizona 2 weeks ago my close friend AGirl asked me to keep an eye out for something for her.  She has a drawstring bag that she picked up at one of the Tennessee State Parks but it has a hole in it.  She asked me to watch out for them when I was visiting state parks and if I saw them to pick her up a new one.  The weather forecast was for 56° today so it only seemed logical to get out and ride and try to find her a new bag.

The pup is Nike her Welsch Corgi.  He was another of my hosts when I visited a couple of weeks ago.

Update - Nike died on March 5, 2009.  Rest in peace my little friend.  You will be, and already are, sorely missed by many.


I headed out early with visions of snagging a new bag for AGirl and then spending the day taking photos of waterfalls.  As mentioned above the forecast was for a high of 56° and when I left home at 7:30 it was already 51°.  It rained last night and was still completely overcast when I left home.  I rode most of the day on wet roads and, as can be seen in the photos below, under ugly slate gray skies.  The sun did finally make an appearance late in the day as I was headed home though.

I first headed for Burgess Falls State Park in White County.  This is my second visit there and I still haven't made it to the "Real" waterfall because it's a pretty good hike down to it.  On both of my visits I have contented myself with the smaller waterfalls around the parking area.  One thing that I did forget about is that they don't have a visitor center there, so no bag for AGirl.


I very, very seldom use an automatic setting on any of my cameras.  This is especially true when taking a photo of flowing water.  Automatic settings never show water flowing the way I like it.  To make water look like it is flowing you need to use a slow shutter speed and an automatic setting is never going to do that.  Below are two photographs of basically the same scene.  The one on the left was shot in automatic (1/125 second at f5.6).  The photo on the right was shot using aperature priority mode (1/2 second at f32).  It is easy to see the difference in how the water flows in the photo on the right because it was moving while the shutter on my camera was open.  In automatic mode the camera picked a shutter speed that was so fast it froze the movement of the water.  I personally prefer the flowing look of the water, and since they are my photos that's the way I'll shoot them ;)

   


Ok, so much for today's photography lesson.

From Burgess Falls I headed over to Fall Creek Falls near Spencer, TN.  Highway 30 between Spencer and the park entrance is one of my favorite roads in this area, but I took it easy on it today.  We had some rain last night and early this morning and the highway was still wet when I got there.  15mph switchbacks, motorcycles, and wet roads are not a good combination so I took it easy through the twisties.  The photo below shows a dry road, even though you can still see some water on the shoulder, because it was actually taken on the way to Rock Island later today.  I added it here because it does show one of the dandy switchback curves.

     


Fall Creek Falls is a fantastic place for scenics.  I might have seen 1% of the park in 4 or 5 visits there and each time I go I find a new spot that I haven't seen before.  I always have to make a stop at the waterfall for some photos though.

 

I thought it was pretty cool how the wind caught the water going over the fall in the last photo and twisted it.

I stopped at the Fall Creek Fall Inn to pick up AGirl's drawstring bag and once again got skunked.  The girl in the gift shop said that they used to carry them but don't have them now.  (sigh)  Oh well, there are still plenty of parks in the area.


So, the next likely candidate for AGirl's bag would be Rock Island State Park between Doyle, TN and McMinnville, TN.  It's a short 30 minute hop from Fall Creek Falls if Highway 30 is dry, and luckily it was by now!

Rock Island is another photographer's dream spot.  Waterfalls and seasonal flowering plants everywhere.  Great scenery and a truly beautiful place to visit.  I didn't stop by the "Great Falls" overlook today since it was starting to get late in the day and I still had to get back to Nashville, but I do have some photos of Great Falls from two previous visits at This Page and This Page.  Even so there are a lot of great photos to be had on that side of the park, including a distant view of Great Falls.

I stopped at the Visitor Center to pick up AGirl's drawstring bag, and to my surprise I got the same story.  "We used to have those but we don't have them now."  OK, this is becoming a trend now.

I had a print of the bag with Nike and when I went in I had shown it to the ranger and told her that I was looking for one for a friend in Arizona.  When she said that they didn't have one she then grabbed a map of Tennessee State Parks and said, "Hang on and let me call some of them and see who has one."  Before I could even stop her she was on the phone to Edgar Evins State Park to see if they had them.  I stopped her after the first call saying that it would be a good excuse to get out and visit some of the parks in the area, and it wasn't necessary for her to call them all.  I really think she would have happily called every park in Tennessee looking for a drawstring bag for a visitor.  How's that for exceptional service?  I really wish I had gotten her name, she deserves an honorable mention here at the very least.


So it was with no drawstring bag for AGirl and a bunch of decent photos in my camera that I headed back toward Nashville and home.  Certainly not an Arizona journey but 250 miles around middle Tennessee still makes for a great day of riding.  The sun finally peeked out on the way home and it was nice to see something other than gray skies again.  I miss the vibrant blue of Arizona and California I enjoyed only a week ago and it will take a while to readjust to the grays and browns of a Tennessee winter.

Also, no GPS track log for this little ride either.  While unpacking my gear from my Arizona trip I put my GPS on the seat of my bike for a moment (I know, big mistake).  A minute later I turned around and smacked it with my elbow and sent it skittering across my concrete basement floor.  I thought I had gotten lucky since it appeared that everything was working when I rode today, but when I got home and tried to download the track log to my computer the USB interface was dead.  So, my GPS is headed for Kansas to be repaired by Garmin and no track log for this trip.

LOUSY WEATHER IN TENNESSEE - February 20 - March 1, 2009
The Tennessee weather has not been kind to motorcyclists the past couple of weeks so my miles on a motorcycle have been limited to nearly nothing at all.

Last Saturday (2/21) I awoke to clear blue skies and moderate temperatures, and plans of getting out, riding somewhere, and clearing my mind for a while danced in my head!  However, when I checked the weather forecast my hopes plummeted like the temperature around here frequently does.  The forecast said that in the afternoon the rain would move back in, and they were right.

I ran some errands on my VFR during the morning hours but by mid-afternoon the skies went back to their normal leaden gray shade and the rain came down in buckets once again.  Sunday the sun was out but it was very cold.  I drove to Radnor Lake and walked around for a while but it was in the 20's when I left home.  Given all the rain of the previous day I wasn't about to try it on a motorcycle, and it was a good thing since there were patches of ice scattered along the roadways.

The week I spent in Arizona and California provided a welcome respite from this never ending dreariness, and was a wonderful experience, but the depression returned with the gray skies when I got off the airplane in Nashville.

There were several nice days during the previous week and I did ride to work several times.  The forecast for Wednesday was for a high of 60° so I wore just my mesh jacket with a liner underneath.  They missed the high forecast by 14° since it topped out at 46° and I complained all the way home.  Thursday the forecast was for clear skies and a high of 65°.  It actually topped out at 71° but this time I didn't complain very much.

So, here we are at another Saturday on the last day of February.  The current radar image is shown to the left, and it's supposed to be downhill from there.  There is a "Winter Weather Advisory" for this area that reads as follows:

... Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect from 6 PM this evening to 6 am CST Sunday...

One to two inches of snow is expected. Three inches is possible in west middle Tennessee near the Tennessee River.  Slippery roads will develop tonight as temperatures fall below to the freezing mark tonight.

A Winter Weather Advisory means that period of snow or ice will cause travel difficulties.  Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities... and use caution while driving.

I'm supposed to meet a friend in Murfreesboro for breakfast tomorrow morning and I had planned on riding my VFR, despite a forecast low temperature tonight of 25°, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen.  After breakfast I was going to go to Cannonsburgh Frontier Village (assuming that they have not closed for the winter) and take some photos, and then go to Cane Ridge Park where R/C guys fly model airplanes for some more photos.  It doesn't look like either of those are going to happen either.  I'll still be there for breakfast but it looks like I'll be driving my Durango instead of my bike.

One of these days winter is going to leave Tennessee.  Hopefully this weekend will be close to winter's end and we can move on to some decent weather for a couple of months before it starts to get hot again.  The bunch in Arizona is enjoying giving me a hard time about the difference between their weather and mine, but my day will come!  Very soon it will be over 100° there and only in the 80's here.  I miss you guys, but payback is going to be rough!  Enjoy the ride Sunday and eat some pie for me!

Check back again.  I'll probably have the opportunity to post some non-riding snow photos tomorrow ;(

OUT AND ABOUT - March 7, 2009
Wow, what a difference a week can make!  Last Sunday we had some snow, the first of the week cold weather, and then it started warming up.  It's supposed to start raining again tomorrow but today was great!  It started out cloudy but the sun finally broke through the clouds, it warmed up to about 75°, and other than some wind was a great day.

I decided to hit a couple of State Parks to continue my quest to find AGirl a replacement drawstring bag so I headed for the Cedars of Lebanon State Park near Lebanon, TN.  On the way over I stopped at Cane Ridge Park which is the home of the Middle Tennessee Radio Control Society, a group of radio control model airplane enthusiasts.  There was nobody there when I stopped so I grabbed a couple of photos of the field and headed for Lebanon.  I made plans to stop there again on the way back through.

 

I headed on east to Cedars of Lebanon State Park and once again got skunked trying to find AGirl's bag.  Oh well, there are still plenty of state parks left.  In fact why not try a National Park and see if they have anything?  Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro is on the way home so I'll stop there.  And, since I'm in Murfreesboro, I'll stop at Sloans and pick up some oil and a filter for my V-Strom.

Heading down highway 231 between Lebanon and Murfreesboro I happened to notice a waterfall on the side of the road just past Walterhill, TN.  I made a U-turn and came back to Walterhill Park.  This is a pictueresque little park on the Stones River right beside the highway.  It begged to have a few photos taken so I obliged.

 

 

 

I continued on into Murfreesboro and stopped at Stones River National Battlefield.  Once again I got skunked finding AGirl's bag.  This is really turning into a quest but I am determined to find them.

 

   

 

I headed back west toward Cane Ridge Park again to see if anyone was flying despite the gusty wind.  Ah!  That's more like it, there are a couple of guys flying!

 

 

Not a long trip by any means, just a bit over 100 miles, but it felt so great to be on a bike and not smothered with layers of cold-weather riding gear.  I wore my mesh jacket with a liner underneath, light leather gloves, and was perfectly comfortable all day long.  This was the first time I was warm on a motorcycle since I got back home from Arizona in early February!

 

OUT AND ABOUT ON A NICE WEEKEND - March 21 & 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009

Not a bad day for riding today.  The past couple of weeks have consisted of up and down temperatures (up to the 70's and down to the 30's) with a good bit of rain mixed in every few days.  We're starting to move into our normal spring routine now with a day of rain about every 3 days but much milder temperatures.  This weekend is forecast to be in the mid 60's with clear skies.  Saturday was pretty close, and we'll have to see about Sunday.

I headed out this morning about 7:00 with no particular destination in mind and my camera in the side case of my VFR.  I stopped for breakfast and decided to go by Radnor Lake and see if I could get some decent pictures of the Ring-Necked Ducks that have been hanging around there.  Having only a 200mm lens makes getting wildlife and waterfowl photos difficult since they don't tend to let humans get very close, but I do the best I can.

Radnor Lake is a nice place to walk and think once you get past all the rules they impose on visitors.  The scenery and wildlife almost make putting up with all their rules worthwhile though.

 

 

Across the lake from where I was I noticed a small herd of White Tailed Deer playing in the lake.  Normally deer don't play in the water like children, but these were.  They were splashing and jumping and chasing each other just like a bunch of kids.  They were about 200 yards away across the lake so, as usual, I didn't have enough lens.

 

 

I moved on around the lake to the spot I had seen the Ring-Necked Ducks a few days ago and sure enough they were still there.  These are not tame ducks, they are wild, and they were not about to let a human get very close to them.  Their distance stretched my little 200mm lens to its maximum but the photos turned out decent.

 


Ring-Necked Duck

Ring-Necked Duck

Ring-Necked Duck

Ring-Necked Duck

 

On the way out I saw some flowers that needed to have their photo taken.  There was also a pretty Redbud tree that needed it's photo taken as well, so I obliged.

 

 

 

Photographing the ducks and deer was fun so I decided to ride over to Centennial Park to see what was paddling around on the lake there.  When I arrived there were several people painting scenes in the park and enjoying the morning sunshine.  There were also some trees and flowers that needed a photo taken.

 

 

The Pigeons, ducks, and Geese were out in full force.  When someone walked up they came swimming (or flying in the case of the Pigeons) up close just in case there might be a snack available.  These critters are pretty tame, and not nearly as shy of humans as the waterfowl at Radnor Lake so I could get some relatively decent photos of them.

 


Common Pigeon

American Coot

American Coot

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Lesser Scaup Drake

Lesser Scaup Hen

Lesser Scaups (Drake top, Hen bottom)

Mallards (Drake top, Hen bottom)

Mallard Hen
   

 

I headed on out West End Avenue, which turns into Highway 100, to the Natchez Trace Parkway and rode around there for a while before heading back home.  Not a long trip, about 125 miles all told, but it was very relaxing to just get out and ride with no particular destination and no particular time schedule.  The temperature was comnfortable, the sun was out, and it just felt good to be riding again.  I am certainly glad to see Spring arrive in Tennessee!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

I headed south on the Natchez Trace Parkway today to grab some photos at Jackson Falls.  This is a relatively small waterfall about 40 miles down the parkway.  I've been there several times before but each time the waterfall was dried up or not flowing very much.  We've had a good bit of rain lately so I figured that if there would ever be water over the waterfall today would be the day.  Apparently there just isn't ever very much water over this waterfall.  Regardless, it was an easy and enjoyable ride in great weather.

   
The weather was so nice today I didn't want to head home yet so I rode over to the aircraft observation area near Nashville International Airport to watch the airplanes for a little while.  I always enjoy watching airplanes come in and go out, it just relaxes me some.  I wonder where they have been and where they are headed, and frequently wish I was on one of them headed somewhere.
Except for the era that young boy could be me.  My parents used to take me and my sister to the airport on Sunday afternoons to watch the airplanes just like that.  The airport was Outlaw Field in Clarksville, TN., the airlines were Allegheny and Ozark, and the aircraft were mostly DC-3's, DC-6's, Constellations, and other piston aircraft of the era.  Times change, technology advances, but it's good to see that parents still take their children to the airport on the weekend.  I guess the saying that "The more things change the more they stay the same" is true in this respect.
MARCH IS FINALLY OVER! - March 31, 2009
I am SO glad to see March gone!  This has been the sloppiest, rainiest, messiest March I can remember in a long time.  I think it rained every weekend except one, and during the week it rained about every 2 or 3 days.  For the past week or so we have averaged one day of rain and then one day of non-rain.  I say "non-rain" so as not to confuse that with a day of nice weather.  On the days that it didn't rain, with one or two exceptions, it was either cloudy or cold or both.

I managed to ride a grand total of 584 miles this month.  That is 13 miles farther than the 571 miles I rode in one DAY while I was in Arizona last month.  As a further comparison, I rode 1,200 miles during March in both 2007 and 2008.  This year was about half that.  I hope, I really, really hope, that April is not quite as sloppy as March was.  I want to get out and RIDE!

The forecast for this coming weekend is, as has become the norm, one day of nice weather and one day of rain.  If the forecast holds and it's nice Saturday I am gone somewhere.  I'm not sure where, but I am going somewhere!

CLARKSVILLE AND TULLAHOMA - April 4 & 5, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Not unlike the past few months this week was a sloppy mess most days.  It rained just about every other day with severe thunderstorms and a couple of tornados on Thursday evening.  The forecast for the next few days is just about as goofy as the rest of this spring has been with thunderstorms again tomorrow afternoon and snow showers on Monday night.  Saturday was beautiful though so I got out and rode my VFR for about 150 miles.

I rode to Clarksville and just tooled around town for a little while.  After some breakfast at the neighborhood Waffle House I stopped at Dunbar Cave and walked around the lake for a while.  I was last there in July, 2007 and it hasn't changed much.  It's a nice place with not nearly as many foolish rules as most of the "Natural Areas" around Nashville.  At Radnor Lake in Nashville, for example, daring to wander off the designated trail is grounds for a $196.50 fine!  Daring to fish in the lake would probably land one in jail for a few years.  Dunbar Cave has none of that nonsense.  People fish in the lake and people walk off the trails if they so desire.

When I lived in Clarksville I spent a lot of time at Dunbar Cave photographing the waterfowl there.  We also spent a lot of time there when we were children because at that time Dunbar Cave was more than just a natural area, it was a resort of sorts.  There was a swimming pool, there were dances on the weekends, there was a golf course (which is still there), there were tours of the cave itself, and it was a fun place to visit.  These days all of that has ended and the only loud sounds come from the geese and swans on the lake.

 

 

I also stopped at the Fairgrounds Park before heading back toward Nashville.  Sited alongside the Cumberland River, the Fairgrounds Park is a good place for families to take their kids.  There is a large lake in which fishing is allowed, and there is a large playground.

 

 

I headed back toward Nashville through Ashland City and then River Road along the Cumberland River.  A great day for a ride, and the first weekend I've seen in a great while that wasn't grey and sloppy.  I'll sure be glad when we can count on more than one day of this nice weather in a row!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thunderstorms are forecast for this afternoon but this morning is forecast to be dry and clear.  I decided to get out early and ride for a while so I headed for Tullahoma, TN to take some photos of the "Gate Guards" that protect the entrance to the base.  For those who don't understand the phrase, "Gate Guards" are combat aircraft that are placed on static display.  In most cases they have earned the right to rest on their laurels because they, their pilots or crew, or both have faced the enemy and survived.

Arnold Air Force Base at Tullahoma, TN has six of them on display.  I've been there to photograph them several times before and I always enjoy revisiting them.  The maintenance staff at Arnold AFB generally keep them in immaculate condition and seldom do I see them needing their paint touched up or bird droppings washed off.  I for one appreciate the effort they put into keeping them that way because unlike so many people these days I respect and supprt the US military.


This first group of photos is of a Republic Aviation F-105B "Thunderchief".  As can be seen from the dedication plaque it is an example of the aircraft flown by Lt. General Robert M. Bond.  The F-105 in several variants gained fame in Vietnam as both a fighter/bomber and an electronic warfare aircraft.  Sadly there are no longer any F-105's flying anywhere in the world.  They have all been destroyed or put on static display somewhere, so this aircraft is one of the last of the breed.

 

 


Next door to the F-105 is an F-15C Eagle.  The Eagle is, in my mind, the finest dogfighter ever built.  There are those who would argue that fact, but to me the Eagle will always epitomize what a fighter should be.

 

 
 


Parked beside the Eagle is a US Navy F-14D Tomcat.  The Tomcat had a rocky early history due primarily to electronic gremlins, but in its defense the early 70's, when the Tomcat joined the Fleet, were part of the early days of aircraft electronics and the F-14 was ahead of its time in its systems and capabilities.  Second only to the F-15 and F-4, the F-14 is high on my list of all-time favorite aircraft.

 

 


Up the road a little farther a visitor can view three more aircraft.  Among them is a General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon".  The F-16 was the first in the series of light, fast, maneuverable, single-engine fighters.  The F-16 was the winning aircraft in a "Fly-Off" in the mid-70's when the USAF was looking for a lightweight addition to its lineup and it has earned its place in history.  This particular F-16 has no dedication placard, the blank pedestal is visible in the right-hand photographt below, so I don't know what its history is or why it happens to be there.

 

   


Next to the F-16 is a McDonnell-Douglas F-18A Hornet.  Sitting next to an F-16 is an appropriate place for an F-18.  In the mid-70's when the USAF chose the F-16 to be its lighweight fighter the closest competitor in the fly-off was the Northrop YF-17.  Through an agreement between Northrop and McDonnell-Douglas, which ultimately ended in a lawsuit, the YF-17 became the F-18 and went into service for the US Navy.

 


Across the street from the Falcon and Hornet sits my favorite jet fighter of all time.  Anyone who loves aircraft will have no trouble in identifying the shape of the venerable McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom.  No aircraft in history can claim as many "Firsts" as the Phantom.  It is the only US aircraft to have flown for three of the major branches of the US military, the Air Force, Navy, and Marines.  Released into service in 1959 the last Phantom rolled out of the McDonnell-Douglas factory in Saint Louis on October 26, 1979, after 20 years of service.  Over 5,000 Phantoms were built and some are still flying today.

Someone paying close attention to the photos below might notice that the sun is just wrong on the side view of the F-4.  I admit it.  I didn't take that photograph today.  I actually took that particular photograph on June 23, 2007 when I visited Arnold AFB.  The ground beside the aircraft had been freshly planted with seed and it was soft from our recent rains so rather than make a mess of the landscaping I took a couple of photos from the opposite side.  I was shooting into the sun and got a lot of lens flare and just generally lousy photos so I used an older photo of the Phantom.

 

 


After satisfying my airplane lust for this week I headed back toward Nashville by way of Highway 41-A through Tullahoma and Shelbyville.  I made a slight detour by Henry Horton State Park to continue my quest to find something for a friend, and then ran up Highway 31-A into Nashville.  As I write this the thunderstorms forecast for the afternoon are starting to show up on radar but I'm back home where it's nice and dry so it can rain all it wants now.  A great weekend of riding with a little over 300 miles on the clock.  Sooner or later our weather is going to stabilize and this type of weekend will become more common but so far this year we haven't had very many of them.

JUST OUT RIDING! - APRIL 12, 2009
I'm not convinced that winter has had its last shot at us for the year but at least we got one decent day before it starts raining again.  We had tornados here Friday evening and yesterday dawned gray and cloudy as usual.  It was late afternoon before the sun finally broke through the clouds.  At 10:00 yesterday morning I visited the Nashville Zoo (photos are Here) and when I left home it was 43°.  When I got home about 1:00 it had warmed to 53° and eventually topped out about 61° late in the afternoon.  Today dawned clear and bright albeit a little on the cool side at, as usual, 43°.  I let it warm up a little and then rode down the Natchez Trace Parkway for a while.  As can be seen in the photos below, Tennessee is trying to shake off the winter grays and browns but is having a difficult time of it.  

 
 
I also stopped at Radnor Lake on the way home to walk for a little while.  There were a number of critters out enjoying the sunshine.  I guess it felt quite warm to them for a change.  

 
 
The lake was really pretty with the bright blue sky reflecting in the water.  Not even a lot of wind blowing it around for a change.  

 

On a completely unrelated note, I get quite annoyed at Microsoft Windows applications frequently (OK, I STAY annoyed at most Windows applications ALL the time!) because they don't render colors properly.  I post-process photographs from my digital cameras on a calibrated monitor using software that renders everything properly.  Even so a lot of Windows software doesn't display them properly, and that includes a lot of web browsers.

The screen capture below shows the difference.  Both of the photographs are the same image (and it is This One from the photos above).  The top left version is displayed using Corel Paint Shop Pro version 12 while the lower right version is displayed in the default photo viewer for Windows XP.  The one at the lower right is wrong.  The contrast and color saturation are far too low, and not even close to what they should be.  Most web browsers (including MS Internet Explorer and Firefox) also display them washed out and featureless.  It could just be my video adapter but I kind of doubt it.  My computer at work behaves in a similar manner.

Update - 04/12/09 - After doing a little bit of digging I ran across a Plugin for Firefox that enables color management for that web browser.  It can be found at This Page.  According to the reviews on the page (scroll down the page to the "Reviews" section) Firefox is already "Color Managed" but it is disabled by default.  You can enable color management in Firefox using the instructions provided in the review of the plugin, or you can just install the plugin and let it do the work for you.  Either way will work and the colors are much, MUCH better than before!  Enabling color management in Firefox isn't a one-way street though.  It will significantly slow performance of the browser and you'll notice that it scrolls and displays images a lot slower than before.  Your choice.  I tend to disable color management except when I'm looking at photographs that I want to display correctly.  

     
JUST OUT RIDING (AGAIN)! - APRIL 18, 2009
Today started out fantastic so I had to get out and ride for a while.  As usual when I have nowhere better to go I headed down the Natchez Trace Parkway.  For some reason there was a lot of bicycle traffic today.  I think they were having some sort of event but I don't know exactly what was going on.  I did grab a few photos of some of them though.  

 
I rode on down to Burns Branch simply because I had never stopped there for some reason or another.  I've been by it many times but for some reason I never bothered stopping.  It has been my loss because it really is a pretty little spot.  

 
The rain that was forecast to start today hadn't begun yet so I decided to ride over to Cane Ridge Park and see if anyone was flying model airplanes.  It didn't come as much of a surprise that on a beautiful day like this that there were several guys flying.  It also shouldn't come as much of a surprise that I took a TON of photos of them.  Rather than put all of them on this page (I think there are about 90 of them!) I'm putting those photos on a page to themselves at This URL.  I did include a few below though.  I just can't resist airplane photos!  

 
The clouds started piling up in the west so I decided to head home before the bottom fell out (naturally it hasn't started raining yet several hours later).  A really great day for riding.  Nice and warm and mostly sunny.  When I pulled my bike in the basement I noticed the blooms on my Dogwood tree and couldn't resist one last photograph.  

 
GENERAL GEORGE PATTON MUSEUM at FT. KNOX, KY and RADNOR LAKE - APRIL 25-26, 2009
2007 Honda VFR800
Saturday, April 25, 2009

I rode to Ft. Knox, KY on Airpil 25, 2009 to visit the General George Patton Museum.  I don't pretend to know the first thing about armor but I do like guns and the bigger they are the better they are!

It is almost the first of May and other than my Trip to Arizona and California in February this is the first time this year that I've been out of the state of Tennessee!  That's pretty sad but the weather so far this year has just not been good for riding.  This weekend is the first one in many weeks that the sun has been out both days.

This was a good trip albeit an easy one.  Straight up I-65 and then a little bit west.  I had fantastic temperatures all day to.  It was in the mid 60's when I left home and in the mid 80's when I got back.  It was pretty windy though, and I fought a crossing headwind all the way home.  I'd rather have it on my face shield than on the side though so it wasn't too bad.  The worst thing about today was that my GPS crapped out again on the way home.  I had it repaired by Garmin in February after knocking it onto my concrete basement floor, and thought it was fixed.  Coming home from Ft. Knox it showed me how wrong I was by drifting all over the place.

I've included a few photos below but there are plenty more (about 160 of them!) on This Page.  

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I got my V-Strom out today and rode around town for a little while to clear my head.  I stopped at Radnor Lake and took a bunch of "Scenic Lake" photographs simply because it was such a beautiful morning.  

I was standing on a wooden platform over the edge of the lake taking some of the photos above and I kept hearing a girl's voice singing.  I looked around and saw this young lady sitting on the bank singing to the lake.  I asked if she minded my taking some photos of her and she said she didn't.  I wish I had asked her name because she reminds me of a close friend.  One who, I am pretty certain, would be quite content to sit beside a lake quietly singing and playing a guitar for the lake and the trees and the animals.  

 
HERE WE GO AGAIN! - MAY 1 & 2, 2009
It looks like Tennessee's changeable weather is going to insure that I don't ride much this weekend.  Once again the clouds have opened up and the bottom has fallen out.  Monday was the only day this past week that didn't have rain in the forecast.  We got 3" of rain on Friday and judging by the radar image below Saturday isn't going to be much better.  Sunday is forecast to be much the same with a 90% change of yet more rain.  Monday things might start to dry out a little bit but there won't be many miles put in over the weekend!

Oh well, I've got things around home to keep me busy.  My friend AGirl is heading east in the next couple of weeks and I need to take care of a few things before she gets here.  I've also got a trip to West Virginia scheduled in about 3 weeks, and possibly one to east Tennessee the weekend before that so I have plenty to get ready for.  With a little luck AGirl will bring some warm and dry Arizona weather east with her.

May 1, 2009 marked 3 years back on a motorcycle for me.  I bought my V-Strom on May 1, 2006.  During that time I have ridden right at 44,000 miles in 15 states,  I've seen both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and I've seen the desert of Arizona and the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.  I've visited more State and National parks, monuments, battlefields, and historic sites than I can keep track of.  I've met some wonderful people, many of whom have become very close friends, and visited places that I'll never forget.  I've been hot, cold, wet, tired, and sore.  I won't say I've enjoyed every single mile but I have enjoyed every one of the experiences.  I have many more trips planned for 2009 and I hope that I can continue to ride for several more years because there are a lot of places I have yet to visit.
SHORT RIDES - MAY 9 & 10, 2009
Saturday - May 9, 2009

After nearly two solid WEEKS of nothing but rain the sun managed to peek out a little bit both days this weekend.  It was an unusual but welcome sight to, and contradictory to what the weather guessers were guessing.  Friday morning I awoke to the sound of thunder.  Friday night I went to sleep to the sound of thunder.  Saturday morning I awoke to the sound of thunder.  I checked the weather forecast, and as usual it was showing a 60% chance of rain for the day.  I guess that the 60% coverage occured early in the day because about mid-day the sun made a watery appearance and I decided to get out and ride a little while.  Since rain was in the forecast again for Sunday I figured it would be my only opportunity for the weekend.  I left home about 2:00 in the afternoon and rode down the Natchez Trace Parkway, as usual.  I didn't have a destination in mind, I just wanted to get out and ride for a while.  I also wanted to see if my GPS was once again repaired.  It was fixed in February by Garmin but died again coming back from Ft. Knox a couple of weeks ago.  I got it back from Garmin Friday evening and decided to give it a test ride.

Sunday - May 10, 2009

I rode to Springfield, TN this morning to visit someone, and then made a stop at Cyclegear to pick up a new face shield for my helmet.  It was actually a nice day with some sun mixed with clouds, and i really wasn't in any real hurry to head back home.  I had my camera with me so I stopped at Centennial Park for a while and took some photos of the spring flowers and the ducks and geese on the lake.  After what seemed to be never ending rain it really felt good to be outside for a while.  Not a sparkling clear day by any means, but at least it wasn't pouring down rain for a change.  The extended forecast for the coming week shows another 40% chance of rain starting on Wednesday, but in my opinion the only thing the weather people are sure of right now is that they aren't sure of anything.  I'm supposed to head to east Tennessee this coming weekend to meet my friend AGirl so I hope it is a dry ride over and back.

MORE RAIN! - MAY 16, 2009
Saturday - May 16, 2009

I have no idea why I would think that it would do anything but rain today.  I had made plans to head for East Tennessee to meet up with a friend, but as usual it was pouring down rain when I got up.  My level of experience and wet mountain roads don't mix so I reluctantly cancelled my trip.

I had also planned to stop in Brentwood on the way out of town because the 15th Annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride for the Victory Junction Gang Camp was passing through on their way to Charlotte, NC.  This is an annual motorcycle trip from the west coast to the east coast, and is something that I'd love to do one of these days.  Proceeds go to the Victory Junction Gang Camp which is a camp for seriously or chronically ill children.  I wish we could have provided better weather for you guys, but we've been dealing with this for weeks now.  I know it doesn't help, but 2 hours later the sun was out.

I did go to Brentwood and take some photos of some of the bikes as they came through.  It was rainy and dim and I was barely taking time to frame a photo.  I shot 170 frames in less than 2½ minutes.  Try that with a 35mm and 36-exposure rolls of film!  I probably didn't get half the bikes but a few of the better pix are included below.  If any of the riders would like a copy of any of them all you have to do is send me an EMail and ask.  Thanks for being there for the kids.  I hope you enjoyed the ride!


About an hour after I got home the rain quit and the sun came out (of course the sun came out, I cancelled my trip!).  The radar was clear except for some showers down around Jackson, TN so I decided to go ride for a while.  I rode over to the Natchez Trace Parkway and down to Garrison Creek.  There I stopped, and pulled my ear plugs out.  What's that sound?  Nah, it couldn't be thunder.  Yep, thunder.  Black as midnight to the southwest.  All this mess has been moving from southwest to northeast so that puts me right in front of it.  I sit there for a few minutes, smoke a cigarette, and think about my chances of outrunning it and that damn worthless radar site.  Pretty much non-existent chances of outrunning it, but worth a try.  So I head back north with the storm looming black in my mirror.  Luckily I did have my rain jacket with me this time.  I cut over to Franklin and things are looking a lot better so I decide to make a quick stop at the Suzuki shop to pick up a part.  Yeah, it wasn't short enough.  I had no more gotten out of the parking lot and the bottom absolutely fell out.  Torrential rain, wind shoving me around, lightning blasting down all around.  Not a fun 15 miles home, but I made it.  I'm dry now, it's not raining, and I still want to nuke that damn radar site.


Sunday - May 17, 2009

I didn't make the trip to east Tennessee to meet my buddy AGirl yesterday, and it would have been a long haul for me to ride over there and back in one day today.  It was nice and clear today, for a change, so I did manage to meet her in Monteagle, TN though.  That made for an easy 160 mile trip in some really nice weather and I got to see my friend a little bit earlier.

She is in the middle of her East Coast 2009 ride and has been visiting family in Cashiers, NC.  Next weekend she and I are headed east together, at least for a little bit.  She is heading to Maryland and I'm headed for West Virginia so we are ridng part of the way together.  We'll split up in Wytheville, VA and head the rest of the way on our own.  She'll be back here at the end of June to drop off her V-Strom before flying back to Phoenix.  She'll be back once again in the fall on her FJR to pick up me and her V-Strom since I'll be riding it back to Phoenix.

NEW RIVER GORGE - BECKLEY & FAYETTEVILLE, WV - MAY 23 & 24, 2009
2006 Suzuki DL650
I looked at my web site to see where I rode this weekend last year and noticed a paragraph at the top of the entry that I want to include here:

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.


This was my first long trip of the summer, and it was a good one!  My riding buddy AGirl has been in town for the past week before heading north to continue her East Coast 2009 ride.  Since she was heading northeast and I have been wanting to visit the New River Gorge we decided to ride part of the way together.

We left Nashville bright and early Saturday morning headed east on I-40.  We grabbed some breakfast at the Bean Pot Restaurant in Crossville, TN and then continued on east.  In Wytheville, VA, 366 miles from Nashville, we parted company.  I headed north for Beckley, WV and she headed east for Roanoke, VA to meet some friends.

I-77 from Wytheville to Beckley is a beautiful ride through wooded Virginia and West Virginia hills.  I didn't take any photographs of that section because, as with most interstates, stopping for anything other than emergencies is illegal.

I got to Beckley early enough to stop at the Sandstone Visitor center and pick up their stamp for my Passport Stamp Collection.  Sandstone is only one of four visitor centers on the New River.  I plan on hitting the others tomorrow.


Sunday I got up early and rode to the Canyon Rim Visitor Center before they opened.  My plan was to take some photos around the visitor center prior to their opening, then get my stamp, and head for the Thurmond visitor center.  The only problem was that I wasn't exactly sure where the Thurmond visitor center was, and was hoping that they had signs posted or that some one at the visitor center could give me some decent directions.


One of the reasons that the Canyon Rim Visitor Center was built at this particular location was to provide an overlook to view the New River Gorge Bridge.  This bridge is awe-inspiring, especially when riding across it on a motorcycle.  Looking off to the side all I could see was a wooded green gorge way down beneath me!  The bridge is 3,030' long and 847' high, making it the second highest vehicular bridge in the world.  Below are a couple of photographs of it.

Looking at the bridge got me wondering just exactly how they physically constructed it.  Steel arch bridges can support immense loads due to the geometry of the arch.  Weight on top simply pushes down on the structure, and since it is in the shape of an arc that weight is mostly vectored to the ends of the bridge which are anchored on solid rock.  The catch is that even though it is immensely strong once constructed, during construction it is not very strong at all, it is just several million pounds of steel hung out in the air with nothing holding it up.  It is nearly 900' from the bridge deck to the river below, so temporary supports below are out of the question.  Here Is A Link to an image that shows it from below and gives a much better idea of the problem.  How exactly did they construct that big steel arch across the gorge?

It took me a little while searching on the internet when I got home to find the answer.  According to This Web Site, "In June 1974, cables were strung between temporary towers located on each side of the gorge.  The steel sections of the arch bridge were pieced together over the gorge by trolleys running on these cables."  The logistics of even that are enormous because the end towers have to widthstand the pull of the weight of the cables themselves plus the steel of the bridge, and it does "Pull".  The weight of all that steel would try to pull those towers into the gorge, not push them into the rock of the sides, so it took some enormous anchors to hold them in place.  I would have loved to see it under construction.  Obviously they managed to overcome the obstacles, but it took some special engineering and construction skills to pull it off.


I walked behind the visitor center and saw a magnificent view of the mountains that needed a photograph
.
.
.
Then I looked down and saw the river!

 

Not a bad place to work, huh?  We should all have a view like that out the back door.

You can plainly see in the photographs that the haze so common to the southeast in summer is already starting to show up.  During late summer it is so hazy in places that it is like looking through a piece of gauze.  When I flew light airplanes it was common to take off and be effectively in instrument conditions because of the haze.  I've seen it so dense that at 1000' he ground is completely obscured yet above the haze layer it is crystal clear.


Once the visitor center opened I went in to get my stamp and asked about the Thurmond site.  Luckily they had the passport stamp for Thurmond there so I got it easier than I expected.  I really wanted to visit the site but I also really wanted to get home today.  So, to save an hour, and since I had the passport stamp, I decided to forego stopping at the Thurmond Visitor Center and headed back south to the Grandview Visitor Center.  This site is actually only a few miles from the Sandstone Visitor Center but it would have been closed had I tried to get there last night.

When I stopped the first thing I saw was a great big "Closed" sign hung beside the front door.  CLOSED!  How can they be freakin' CLOSED!  No matter how many times she tells me to "Call before you go because some of the visitor centers have odd hours" I never take the lesson to heart.  So here I am with a closed visitor center.  I can even see the stinking stamps through the front window!


Dejected and stampless I decided that at least I would enjoy the view and take a few photos.  I was told that the town of Grandview got it's name for an obvious reason, the view is grand!  They weren't kidding, it is magnificent.  Even with an 18mm lens I couldn't get the whole thing in one photo so it's split into two.

 

Notice in the photographs above that a railroad track is plainly visible running alongside the river.  I read that the entire area was once filled with coal mining towns.  Between 1875 and 1950 there were approximately 40 small towns along the gorge, settled and built for the purpose of extracting coal from the surrounding mountains.  The towns eventually disappeared but the railroad that served them is still in place.


I grabbed a couple of pictures of a beautiful flower that was growing beside the trail, and trudged back to my motorcycle still annoyed at not stopping last night when I had a slight chance of getting there before they closed.

   

When I got back to my bike I noticed someone by the visitor center in a ranger uniform.  I went over and asked whether they were open or closed, it was only about 10:30 and they open at noon.  He said they were in the process of "Opening".  His explanation was that they are always open by noon but try and get there a little early when they can.  Woo Hoo!  I SCORED MY STAMP!


The rest of the trip was a rather anticlimactic, albeit long, 525 mile trip home.  I hopped on I-64, picked up I-77, then I-81, and finally I-40 to Nashville.  It wasn't what I'd really call "Fun" since it drizzled rain off and on the entire trip home, but thinking about the scenery I saw made up for a lot of discomfort.

All told I collected 7 new Passport Stamps, visited a state I have never set foot in before, and rode my motorcycle 1,034 miles in 2 days.  Another great trip that I'll always remember.

FT. DONELSON / HOMEPLACE 1850 - MAY 30, 2009
2007 Honda VFR800

I decided to ride my VFR up toward the Kentucky border today.  The Tennessee Historical Commission placed some commemorative stamps at many of the historic sites in Tennessee several years ago, and one is at a place called the Homeplace 1850.  This is, apparently, a rural farm that is still being worked today much the same way it was back in 1850.  Sounds interesting, let's go!

I stopped in Dickson, TN and grabbed some breakfast and then headed toward Dover, TN by way of Erin, TN.  I've been through there several times and it's a good ride through rural countryside, and today was a beautiful day for a motorcycle ride.

I stopped at Ft. Donelson in Dover to see if the Bald Eagles were around, but didn't see them. I did take a few photos down by the river though.  This view always amazes me because it is virtually the same as the soldiers would have seen back in 1862.  There is no development visible anywhere, and the area is virtually unchanged.  

I also got a couple of decent pix of a barge cruising down the river loaded with coal and sand.  

 

I headed on out Highway 79 a couple of miles and picked up "The Trace" which runs through Land Between The Lakes NRA where the Homeplace 1850 is located.  The site is about 14 miles from Highway 79, well marked, and easy to find.  I passed some American Bison (Buffalo) grazing areas but there were none to be seen today.  I got to the site in just a few minutes, and found out that there is a $4 admission fee to see the actual "Farm".  I'm not a cheapskate by any means but I wasn't really interested enough to spend $4 so I decided to forego the tour.

Surprisingly they did have the commemorative stamp, many of them have been lost over the years, so I stamped my book, took a couple of outside photos, and headed back south.  

   

I decided that rather than backtrack home the same way I had come I'd take Highway79 into Clarksville, TN and pick up I-24 there for the run back home.  An easy ride although it really did start to warm up a good bit during the afternoon.  It got up to about 85 today, and with our everpresent humidity that feels pretty warm.

I got home about 3:00 after about 230 miles, put this information together, and now I'm going to take a nap ;)  

NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY - METAL FORD - JUNE 6, 2009

I wanted to get out and ride this morning.  It was a beautiful morning with temperatures forecast to be a little cooler than the past few days.  Early this week it got rather warm here with highs in the lower 90's.  A bit of rain came through mid-week and cooled things down, so today was still very nice.

As usual when I have no other place to go I headed over to the Natchez Trace Parkway.  I had breakfast at the Loveless Cafe then headed south on the Parkway.  It was, as I had hoped, a great morning for a ride.  It was actually a little bit cool for a mesh jacket as I rode south, and I almost stopped and put my jacket liner on.  I persevered though and survived the cold weather to arrive at the Metal Ford about 60 miles down the Parkway.

The Metal Ford is, in my opinion, one of the nicest spots on the northern end of the Natchez Trace Parkway.  Nestled beside the Buffalo River it is at the site of an 1820's iron work facility as well as one of the "Fords" across the Buffalo River.  The ford allowed travelers on the Natchez Trace to cross the river.  The name Metal Ford, however, didn't come from the iron works but rather from the stone bottom of the river which reminded travelers of stone-surfaced or "Metaled" roads of that day.

   

I usually ride down there several times a year but this is my first visit in 2009, and it felt good to ride the Parkway that far again.

I headed back north into Nashville and went by Centennial Park for a little while to take a few photos.  Unfortunately there wasn't a parking place to be found sp I just ran a couple of errands and came back home.  About 170 miles in great weather so it was a good day of riding.  

SAVAGE GULF IN THE SOUTH CUMBERLAND NRA - JUNE 13, 2009
2007 Honda VFR800

I decided I wanted to visit a couple of water falls today so I headed east to Savage Gulf State Natural Area in the South Cumberland National Recreation Area to see what I could find.  There are a number of water falls in the area so picking a few was a tough choice.  Guess I'll just have to make another trip over there to visit some of the others.

I met a friend in Murfreesboro for breakfast and then headed east.  This was the weekend of the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN and I had heard that I-24 was completely clogged so I avoided it.  I cut through Woodbury, McMinnville, and Beersheba Springs to get there.  A little bit longer but a great ride through the foothills.

The first waterfall I stopped at was Laurel Falls (GPS coordinates: N35.44653 W85.65587).  A really pretty little waterfall about 25' high.  I managed to get down the trail and back up without needing resuscitation but it was a close thing!  

From Laurel Falls I headed down the road about 5 miles to Greeter Falls (GPS coordinates: N35.43889 W85.69763).  This waterfall is about 1/2 mile from the parking area and what seemed like 10,000 feet lower.  Getting down was a bit tough, getting back up was rough!  I managed it though and got a few decent photos for my efforts.  

Heading back home I had to dodge Manchester again but this time I took the southern route through Sewanee, Cowan, Winchester, Tullahoma, and Shelbyville.  I stopped at Bomar Field in Shelbyville (GPS coordinates: N35.56227 W86.44545) and grabbed a couple of photos of the magnificent DC-3 that is parked there.  What would a day ride be without an airplane photo?  

   

I headed on up Highway 231 to Murfreesboro and then rode I-24 back into Nashville.  About 250 miles round trip and a really great ride.  A little cool early and a lot toasty in the afternoon, but it is June in Tennessee so it's time for it to be getting hot and humid.  

THREE STATES AND A BONUS - JUNE 19-20, 2009
2007 Honda VFR800

Actually it was 4 states since I caught the corner of Georgia as well, but I'm getting ahead of the story.

I had eye surgery on October 31, 2006.  I know, it takes a brave man to have eye surgery on Halloween Day, and I've felt like I've been paying the price ever since.  From the time I woke up I haven't been at all happy with the results of the surgery.  I've been back to the doctor several times since and have gotten nothing but platitudes about how much better my eye is now than before.  OK, if it's so good why can't I see out of it and why do I get such severe headaches?

I met a man about 18 months ago who happens to be an eye surgeon.  At some point I mentioned my disappointment with the results of my surgery and he has been asking me since to come to his office and let him take a look at it.  Over the past few months my eye has gotten to the point that I literally could not see anything except a blur out of it, with or without my glasses, so I finally made an appointment for David to take a look at it.

What has been holding me back is the fact that David's office is about 120 miles from home.  I headed out early on Friday, as in about 5:15, and got to Crossville about 7:15.  David and his staff took a look at my eye, he said, "I know what to do" and spent a few minutes on it with his laser.  As soon as the drops they had put into my eye started to go away I realized I could actually see out of it again!  How cool is that?  I went in to try and find out what was wrong and came out actually able to see out of my right eye again.  David, where do I start.  Thank you doesn't even come close.  It's so nice to be able to actually see something again I don't even know where to start.


To celebrate being able to see again I headed southeast to Dayton, TN.  There was supposed to be a Tennessee Historical Commission stamp at the Rhea County Courthouse however like many others it has been lost over the years.  I contented myself with taking a few photos and enjoyed actually being able to see things through my camera again.  

 


From Dayton I headed a little further south to Etowah to visit the L&N Railroad Depot there.  Once again there was supposed to be a Tennessee Historical Commission stamp there but also once again it had been lost over the years.  They did have one that they had made so I satisfied myself with that one and took a few more photos.  


It was still early afternoon, about 1:00 Central time so I decided to head to Tellico Plains at the end of the Cherohala Skyway.  I had planned on doing this Saturday but it was still so early I thought I'd go ride around that area for a while.

I headed out the Cherohala Skyway and then cut over on River Road alongside the Tellico River.  There were supposed to be a number of waterfalls along the road however most of them were actually "Cascades" where the water was running through large rocks and falling slightly.  Bald River Falls, however, is most assuredly not a "Cascade" it is a true waterfall about 90' tall and I got some good photos of it.  

     


It was still only about 3:00 in the afternoon (yeah, I forgot about going from Central to Eastern time but it didn't really matter) so I rode across the Cherohala Skyway into North Carolina.  I cannot explain how much easier it is to ride a motorcycle on twisty mountain roads when both eyes are working halfway decently!  It was so nice not having curves sneak up on me, I could actually see them coming ahead of time.

I stopped at a couple of overlooks and then turned around at Santeetlah.  The elevation at Tellico Plains is about 800' above sea level and the elevation at Santeetlah is 5,390' above sea level.  The temperature went from 90° to 70° during that 4,590' climb up the mountains.  It was horribly hot and humid at the foot of the mountains and so nice and cool on top that I really didn't want to leave.  

   


I rode back to Tellico Plains and got some gas, good thing it was downhill most of the way or I might have been in trouble, and headed north to Sweetwater, TN.  I got a room in a Days Inn there, took a long shower, got some supper, and called it a day.  I wasn't sure where I was going on Saturday but I figured I could find something.


Saturday morning I got up and decided I'd head to Russell Cave National Monument.  I was there a couple of years ago and it was an interesting place to visit.  I was last there in March and wanted to see what it looked like in the summer months.  I should have realized that, like every other place around here, it would look hot and humid!

I stopped at a rest stop just west of Chattanooga because I was running a bit early and didn't know what time the park opened.  I knew it would either be 8:00 or 9:00 and I was about 25 miles away and it was only 7:00.  The rest stop was right beside Nickajack Lake and the foggy mist laying over the lake made for some insteresting photos.  

   


I got to Russell Cave at about 8:15 and they opened at 8:00 so I timed things pretty well.  I asked the Rangers if they had any new National Park Passport Stamps I could add to my Passport Stamp Collection and lo and behold they had one I hadn't gotten the last time I was there.  I gladly added it to my book and went to the cave to take a few photos.

All of the cave photos below were taken with available light.  My Speedlight was at home and the flash on my camera didn't do a lot of good at the distances I was shooting.

 

   

The last photo is of a cave with a stream coming out of it as can be seen in the preceeding photo.  The cool water of the mountain stream hit the hot muggy air outside and created a mist right over the stream.  The photo shows streaks of the mist in the early morning sunlight.

According to the Russell Cave web site, "For more than 10,000 years, Russell Cave was home to prehistoric peoples."  The last time I was there is was COLD!  This time it was HOT!  On each occasion I had a difficult time understanding how anyone could survive the climate during preshistoric times.  The cave itself is little more than a scoop taken out of the rock, and it was horribly cold in winter and horribly hot in summer.  Coming from an air conditioned and heated society I just cannot understand how they could have survived.  Obviously they did though since we are here.

I walked back to the Visitor Center and took some photos of the flowers and ferns around the outside of it.  

     
There are some additional photos of Russell Cave at This Page of my web site that I took when I was there in March, 2007.


Next stop: Home!  I rode back up to I-24 and headed west again.  I did make a stop at Manchester, TN for gas for my bike and something cold to drink for me though.

What a weekend.  I left home Friday barely able to see out of my right eye and now it's effectively fixed.  I rode 540 miles, got some great photos, and enjoyed being able to ride the mountain roads and see what was going on.  Quite a memorable weekend, one that I won't forget for a while!  An image of my GPS track log is shown to the left.

 

GEORGE DICKEL DISTILLERY - JUNE 27, 2009
2007 Honda VFR800

I sat here last night trying to think of somewhere to ride today.  I've covered a lot of the interesting sites in Middle Tennessee, certainly nowhere near all of them, but a lot of them, and ridden a lot of miles in this area.  One of my close friends gave me a book recently entitled "Tennessee - Off The Beaten Path" and it describes a lot of interesting places all across the state of Tennessee.  While browsing through it I realized I had never been to the George Dickel Distillery near Tullahoma, TN.  I also found an interesting place in Shelbyville, TN to stop for breakfast and then decided that I would stop in Bell Buckle, TN on the way back home.  Plans in place I dumped a few waypoints to my GPS and called it a day.

Saturday morning when I headed out it was already getting hot at 8:00.  The thermometer on my VFR showed 80° and I suspect the humidity was running in the 60% range.  Running down I-24 at 75mph in a mesh jacket I was still sweating.  But I made it to Shelbyville, TN and made my way to Pope's Cafe on the square for a good breakfast.

Huh?  Closed?  What the heck?  A sign in the window says that Pope's Cafe closed in 2007 however there are still 5 other places around the public square to eat.  A quick turn around the square determined that on Saturday morning all 5 of them are also closed!  Damn!  Oh well, that's what the "Find" tool on my GPS is for and it showed a Waffle House in Tullahoma about 20 miles away in the direction I was headed.

So, fueled up after my stop at Waffle House I head for the Dickel Distillery a few miles away.

The site is located on Cascade Springs which is the source of the water used for their whisky.  The first bottle was produced in 1870, and is produced today in much the same way it was then.  The distillery closed in 1910 because of Prohibition (Tennessee Prohibition went into effect 10 years before National Prohibition!) and did not reopen until 1958 when the distillery was rebuilt by Master Distiller Ralph Dupps.

The Dickel web site has a lot of interesting information about the distillery, how they make their whisky, and so forth.  It's and interesting web site and a great tour if you are in the area.  Oh, and no I did not misspell "Whisky".  Check out their web site!

 

I visited the Jack Daniels Distillery down the road at Lynchburg, TN in November, 2006 (photos of that trip are Here) and was surprised at both the similarities and differences between the two sites.  The distillation processes are similar in both, not exactly the same but similar.  Both are "Charcoal Mellowed" by filtering the distilled spirits through huge vats of charcoal.  Both are "Blended" whiskies in that when they prepare to bottle a batch all of the designated barrels are opened, poured into a vat, and blended together so that any minor differences from one barrel to the next are minimized.  Likewise, both facilities are spotlessly clean.

One difference was apparent to me though.  When I visited the Jack Daniels Distillery one thing that stood out was the fact that much of the piping I saw was copper with very little PVC or stainless steel.  Not so at the George Dickel Distillery.  All of the piping there was stainless steel or PVC with nary a piece of copper to be seen.  I don't know whether one is better than the other or not, only that they are different.

Supposedly Jack Daniels has a much higher rate of production, and according to our tour guide at the Dickel distillery that's the way they want it.  The George Dickel Distillery is a low-production facility by choice.  They don't advertise much because their sales already match their level of production and if there was a demand for more they couldn't meet it.


It was HOT by now.  Cloudy with a few thunderstorms in the area which drove the humidity up even higher.  I headed northwest to Bell Buckle, TN.  Bell Buckle is a charming little antique / specialty shop / cafe / ice cream parlor town.  I stopped in the Bell Buckle General Store and got something cold to drink, and sat in the shade for a little while to cool off.  It was nice and peaceful and quiet and cool, and I could have sat there for a while had it not been for the thunderclouds building up in the north.  I decided that I needed to head back toward Nashville before things got ugly.

Heading up Highway 231 toward Murfreesboro I saw a bad motorcycle accident.  I have no idea what caused it but there were pieces of a motorcycle scattered across the road, what was left of it off the side of the road, and several people administering to the rider.  There must have been a dozen cars stopped, and more were pulling over as I went past.  What is it that causes people to feel like they have to stop at the scene of an accident?  Is it some morbid hope of seeing blood?  Perhaps some of them felt that they could help, perhaps some of them were even capable of providing assistance, but there is no way that all of those people stopped for that reason.  I hope the rider is OK but judging from the distance between him and his motorcycle I have my doubts.

I continued on my way but it was hard to keep it out of my mind.  Just a guy out riding, just like me.  The difference being that my day ended a lot better than his did.  Was it his fault?  I have no idea.  Judging by the number of times people have cut me off on a motorcycle, failed to see me at a stop light, turned in front of me, pushed me out of my lane, or otherwise tried their damndest to try and kill me I'd be surprised if it was.

The rain caught up with me in Murfreesboro.  I stopped and put on my rain jacket, which in the summer heat and humidity heated me up like a sauna.  Naturally after I put on my rain jacket it never rained another drop all the way home.

A nice little 155 mile loop that was a lot of fun.  Hot and humid, but still a lot of fun.  The only down side is that I'm still having trouble getting that wrecked white bike out of my head ...

GPS COORDINATES
George Dickel Distillery: N35.43814 W86.24592
Bell Buckle, TN: N35.58974 W86.35524

 

HOLIDAY WEEKEND - JULY 3-5, 2009

Friday & Saturday, July 3 & 4, 2009

I decided not to go anywhere significant this holiday weekend.  Last year I went to Dayton, OH and visited a number of aviation-related sites there.  It was a great trip but there was a bunch of traffic out.  This year I decided to just stay close to home.  That doesn't mean I didn't get out and ride because I did, I just didn't go anywhere special.

Friday I rode to Springfield, TN, and coming back home I just wandered around on roads I had never been on before that headed in the general direction of home.  Saturday I ran some errands on my bike and then rode down the Natchez Trace Parkway.  No big surprise in that since that's where I normally head when I have nothing special in mind ;)  Sunday remains to be seen since it's still Saturday as I write this but there will be some miles put on a bike, you can bet on that!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Well, no miles on a bike today!  It started raining last night about sunset with some wicked thunderstorms in places.  It's surprising given our very wet and sloppy spring but we were really starting to need some rain badly.  Today it was still rainy and wet off and on so I stayed home and did some bike maintenance.  Both of them have clean chains, my V-Strom has fresh oil and a throttle body synch, and they are both ready to go for a while now.  I also got AGirl's DL1000 opened up so I can start looking for an electrical short that has been bothering it.

Next weekend I think I'm going to head down into Georgia and Alabama and pick up a few National Park Passport Stamps and perhaps stop at the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, AL on the way back home.  It's going to depend on the weather so we'll see how it goes.

I'm also getting things ready for my Fall 2009 Trip which looks to be a good one!  If it weren't so hot in Arizona right now I'd be ready to put that one on the road immediately!

More miles are certainly coming this year but this weekend was a take-it-easy kind of weekend for me.  

OUT AND ABOUT - JULY 11-12, 2009

I had planned to ride down into Georgia and Alabama this weekend and visit some National Parks and an airplane museum but the weather in this part of the country didn't want to cooperate.  There is a good chance of rain through Monday so I decided to postpone an 800+ mile trip until that was out of the forecast.

But I had to ride so I took a trip to Fall Creek Falls.  There is a waterfall there that I haven't seen before, so this seemed like an appropriate time to visit it.  For some reason I normally make a run to that park around the first of August each year so I guess this year it just came a little early.

I couldn't get very close to Piney Creek Falls without hiking across the gorge and that was something I wasn't inclined to do.  Straight down and straight up are not my cup of tea so the pictures are taken from the far side of the gorge.  It's a pretty waterfall, about 95' high, but I really couldn't see much for all of the trees.


Piney Creek Falls at Fall Creek Falls State Park

Piney Creek Falls at Fall Creek Falls State Park
   

Since I was so close I also stopped at the main fall from which the park got its name.  Fall Creek Falls are the highest plunge waterfall east of the Mississippi River at 256'.  This time of year there isn't a lot of water coming over but there was more than I have seen at times past!  You can see in the photos below that people do hike to the bottom to swim in the pool down there.  As I said, I don't do straight down and straight up so I stayed at the top.  


Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls
   

I really enjoy the ride between Spencer, TN and Fall Creek Falls along Highway 30 because it is so twisty.  Going to the falls was fun, coming back was boring.  The speed limit is 45mph with a couple of curves slowing to 15mph because they are so tight.  Today I got behind some dim bulb in a diesel pickup truck pulling a huge trailer of hay.  He could barely run 15mph in the not-so-twisty parts and slowed down to about 5mph in the sharp curves.  Needless to say he absolutely refused to pull over at any of the paved areas put there for that purpose and let the train of cars he was blocking get past so we spent a half hour going the 6 or 7 miles that usually takes about 10 minutes.  There is always one jerk somewhere on the road.  

ENJOYING THE WEATHER - JULY 18 & 19, 2009

There was absolutely no way I was not going to ride somewhere today.  Days like this one in July are absolutely unheard of around here so I had to take advantage of it.  Bright puffy white clouds in a deep blue sky, low humidity, and temperatures that topped out in the seventies!  How could I miss that?

I decided to ride to Birmingham, AL and visit the Southern Museum of Flight.  It has been on my list of places to visit since last year and I decided that today would be a perfect day to head south and see what was there.

So, about 7:00am I loaded up my bike, grabbed my helmet, gloves, and summer mesh jacket and hit I-65 south.  About 5 miles down the interstate I realized my first mistake.  I glanced at the thermometer on the instrument panel of my VFR and it read 61°.  Sixty One Degres!  On July 18!  No-freakin'-way!  I had planned on stopping in Athens, AL and getting some breakfast but I changed that to Columbia, TN since it was about 50 miles closer.  Luckily I had thrown my jacket liner in my side case so I had some breakfast, warmed up (in July!), and when I left I gratefully donned my jacket liner under my mesh jacket.  I cannot remember one single time in my life that I have ever gotten cold in July (except when I was soaking wet from riding in the rain).  Absolutely unheard of around here.

I made a planned stop at the Alabama Welcome Center just over the state line because I wanted to take a photo of the Saturn 5 booster rocket that is on static display there.  Check out the blue sky in the photos below.  Just amazing for this time of year.

   

The Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham is, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 6 or 7.  I've visited the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH, I've visited several Wright Brothers museums Around Dayton, I've visited the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, AZ, and I've visited the Tennessee Museum of Aviation.  While this one isn't in the same league as the US Air Force Museum it is similar in quality to the others.  It is well worth the visit, but I have seen better.  Photos of most of the exhibits are below.  

Their web site indicated that they had several aircraft on display that I was looking forward to seeing.  Specifically a YF-12 and F-104.  I was disappointed to find out that these aircraft, as well as a number of others, were in a fenced area a couple of blocks from the main museum.  The area was locked and there was no way to get close to look at the aircraft nor was there a good way to get photographs of them without the fence in the way.  But at least I got to see them!  

I headed back north on I-65 and made one stop at the Tennessee Welcome Center to stretch for a little while.  When I left Birmingham the thermometer on the instrument panel of my VFR showed 79°.  At the Alabama / Tennessee state line that had dropped to 71°, and by the time I got back into Nashville it was back up to 75°.  I doubt that I'll ever see many days in July when the temperature is that low and the skies are that blue.  Normally this time of year we are sweltering in 90° temperatures and high humidity.  It was certainly a welcome change, and one that I gladly made use of!


Sunday I met a friend in Murfreesboro for breakfast.  It was 57° when I left home and probably a couple of degrees warmer when we finished breakfast.  I didn't make yesterday's mistake and today I had my jacket liner on when I left home.

After some breakfast and good conversation I decided to cut across Highway 96 to Franklin and head down the Natchez Trace Parkway for a bit.  It was just too nice to go back home.  Comfortable riding weather with a clear blue sky and puffy white clouds.  Just a great day to be out riding.  

A little over 500 miles for the weekend, and for the first time since I started riding again 3 years ago I got to ride in July without coming home drenched in sweat.  Next weekend is supposed to be back around "Normal", or close to 90°, but it still isn't in the upper-90° range we have had for the past couple of years.  I hope it stays cooler for the rest of the summer but being a pessimist by nature I doubt that it will.

WATERFALLS AND GLASSES - JULY 24, 2009

My friend who took care of my right eye a few weeks ago (Click Here) wanted to see me again and, as he put it, "Tweak" my glasses a bit to help me see a bit better.  So, I headed for Crossville, TN again early this morning.  The biggest drawback to having a doctor 110 miles from home is that he is, well, 110 miles from home.  Of course taking an early morning 110 mile ride on my motorcycle is hardly a bad thing.

So, as I said, I headed east early in the morning.  I stopped at Gordonsville and grabbed some breakfast and still made it to Crossville about 20 minutes before my 7:30 appointment.  David took a look at my eyes and changed my prescription slightly so in a week or two I should have some new specs.

In addition to being a doctor David is also a motorcycle rider so we decided to head somewhere after his last patient around noon.  At this time it was about 9:30 or so and that left me with a little time to kill so I decided to head a few miles east and take a few waterfall photos.

Ozone Falls State Natural Area is, literally, a spot on the road just east of Crab Orchard, TN.  The GPS coordinates are: N35.88165 W84.81008.  If you look at the area in Google Maps you'll see that there is literally nothing at that location.  There is a small pull-off on the south side of Highway 70 and that is it.  If you zoom in really close the map will turn into a panoramic image that shows it.  When the image displays you will see a Pure Oill Company sign.  Rotate the image 180° and you'll see the pull-off on the left side.  There is a trail to the top of the falls, from which you can see nothing, and a very steep trail down to the base of the falls from which you can see it.  Be aware that when I say "Steep Trail" that I am not kidding.  It's pretty short but it makes up for that in the grade change.  It is a pretty waterfall though, and worth the climb.  

After I climbed back to the top of the hill, and got my heart back to normal speed, I headed back west to Crossville.  When David finished his last patient at noon he jumped on his V-Strom and we headed for the South Cumberland State Park restaurant for lunch.  After lunch we headed for Monterey the long way.  From Crossville to Monterey via I-40 is about 20 miles.  We turned it into a 61 mile trip along the backroads.

At Monterey we split up, David headed back for Crossville and me to Nashville.  I got home about 5:15, almost exactly 12 hours after I left.  I rode 311 miles, got some cool waterfall photos, and have some new glasses on the way.  All in all a great day.  David, thanks for everything.  Tell everyone in your office that I appreciate all their help.

     
300 MILES OF NOWHERE - AUGUST 1 & 2

I rode about 300 miles this weekend and have nothing at all to show for it ;)  I hadn't planned anything this weekend, and I should have just packed things up and headed for the mountains of East Tennessee, but I didn't because I had things I really needed to do.

Saturday I rode to Springfield, TN to visit someone for a little while.  Afterwards I came back through Joelton and Whites Creek, just sort of randomly taking roads in the general direction of home.  I stopped by a bike shop for a few minutes, stopped at Couchville Lake for a few minutes, and then went home for a few minutes.  When I got home I noticed that my V-Strom was just shy of having 30,000 miles on it and thought that on Sunday I'd have to get out for a little while and hit the 30k mark.  I went upstairs for a little while and kept thinking about how close I was to 30k so I put my boots back on and headed out again.  I did manage to cross the 30k mark to.

Sunday I got up and started working on a friend's bike.  I have a vested interest in making sure this one works right because I'll be riding it about 3,000 Miles in a couple of months.  It didn't take as long as I expected to find what I suspect was the problem, so about 11:00 I had most of a day left over that I didn't expect to have.  What to do with a half a day?  Why go riding of course.  I put my gear on, fired up the VFR and headed for the Natchez Trace Parkway to clear my head.

Since I started riding again in May, 2006 I've ridden right at 50,000 miles.  Not a lot of miles by some standards, but I'm just a weekend rider.  I ride when I can, and I go where I can.  In that time I've managed to ride a motorcycle in 16 states and seen both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from a motorcycle seat.  I've visited waterfalls, lakes, battlefields, homes of statesmen, museums, historic sites, parks, you name it.  I have had an absolute blast and seen places that I probably never would have visited in a car.  I think I've got a few miles left in me so I guess I'll keep riding.

HOT AND HUMID - AUGUST 8-16, 2009

I just haven't been in the mood to go anywhere the past couple of weeks.  Even though it hasn't come anywhere close the the previous couple of summers it has still been quite hot and humid in this area.  Temperatures hovering around the low 90's and mid-day humidity around 55% makes it quite uncomfortable.  It's actually worse early in the morning and late in the evening to because the humidity is much higher because of the dew.  Even though the temperatures are mild, normally in the lower 70's early in the day the humidity is in the 80% range.  Either way it isn't a lot of fun to ride in even with a mesh jacket and every vent open on my helmet.

That doesn't mean I haven't been riding, it just means that I'm usually back home after a few hours looking for a cool shower.  I've managed about 300 miles each weekend this month, I just haven't been going anywhere in particular.

August 6 I decided to ride down to the Meriwether Lewis Monument on the Natchez Trace Parkway simply because it is there and is someplace to go.  Meriwether Lewis was the "Lewis" half of the Lewis and Clark Expedition that set out in the early 1800's to map the land west of the Mississippi River, and to try and find an all-water route to the Pacific Ocean.  After their return Meriwether Lewis was appointed Governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory by Preident Thomas Jefferson.  In 1809 Lewis began a journey to Washington D.C. to defend himself against allegations of misappropriating government funds.  They traveled to Grinder's Stand, an inn on the Natchez Trace Parkway, and stopped for the evening.  During the evening of October 10, 1809 shots were heard and Lewis was found with two gunshots, one to the head and one to the chest.  He died during the morning of October 11, 1809 at the age of 35.  Who fired the shots still remains a mystery.

The Meriwether Lewis Monument is at milepost 385.9 on the Natchez Trace Parkway, and is located near the spot where he stayed and died in 1809.  The monument is erected over his gravesite, and is located in a Pioneer Cemetery that commemorates the lives ov over 100 early pioneers.

The remainder of the past couple of weeks have consisted of just riding around the area.  August 16 I rode to Springfield to visit someone, and came back through Clarksville and Ashland City.  Other than that just puttering around the area waiting for it to cool off and the Fall Trip West to begin.  More miles to come before then though.

GREAT WEEKEND FOR RIDING - AUGUST 22 & 23, 2009

Saturday - August 22, 2009

Wow!  Some decent weather for a day or two!  Instead of the 90's we've been enjoying for the past couple of weeks the high today was about 79°.  That's hard to beat in late August, so despite a kidney stone that has been kicking up for the past few days I had to get out and ride for a while today.

I headed east to try and get some photos of Falling Water Falls in Chattanooga, TN.  I stopped in Manchester for some breakfast and then picked up the backroads at Monteagle.  There was a nice overlook on Highway 127 between Dunlap and Signal Mountain so I stopped for a couple of photographs.  

   
 
I rode on into the northern part of Hamilton County and headed for the location of Falling Water Falls.  It's another one of those spots that if you aren't careful you will certainly miss it.  One brown sign in the middle of a residential area and a parking area large enough for 3 vehicles (I know that because there were three there and it was full.  I had to park my bike on the edge of the road and hope it didn't get smacked!)  There was a well-defined trail that I assumed went to the waterfall so I headed down it.  Some hikers were coming up the hill so I asked them if there was a waterfall there and they said that it was just ahead.  What there is of it.  With the lack of rain in the area it was more of a trickle than a running waterfall.  Additionally the trail led to the top of the fall and I was not about to hike down to the bottom of it.  The photos below pretty much tell the story.  The first one shows the "Waterfall" going over the lip of the cliff.  The fourth photo shows why there was no way I was hiking down to the bottom of the waterfall.  

 
At times it is apparently a very pretty waterfall as can be seen in the photos on This Web Site.

I headed southwest through Signal Mountain and picked up I-24 back to the west.  I always have to stop at the rest area in the middle of Nickajack Lake near Jasper, TN because the view across the lake is really nice.  

 

 
I stopped in Monteagle and got some gas and then it was an easy 80 mile run down the superslab to Nashville.  All told it was about 290 miles and a really enjoyable ride for a change.  It wasn't hot, I didn't sweat much, and that kidney stone stayed out of the way for a while.  All in all it was a lot of fun.

One other bit of trivia, on the way back to Nashville I crossed 50,000 miles on motorcycles since I started riding again in May, 2006.  I won't say I enjoyed every one of them since there are a lot that were cold, hot, or wet but I wouldn't trade the memories for anything.  

     
 
Sunday - August 23, 2009

Since I rode right at 300 miles yesterday I decided to hang around a bit closer to home today but since it was 59° at 7:00am on an August morning there was no way I was going to miss riding in this weather either.  So, as usual when I have no other place in mind, I headed down the Natchez Trace Parkway for a bit.  No place special to go, no desination in mind, just out riding and enjoying the cool weather.

Only 39 days left until I leave on my Western States 2009 Trip and I can hardly wait.  My riding partner AGirl left Phoenix on August 14 to begin her FJR Fall Full Circle 2009 which will eventually put her in Nashville in late September.  The last third of her trip and my trip coincide since we'll be headed west together and wind up back in Phoenix.  I'll get to see a lot of the USA from a motorcycle, stop at some interesting sites, and visit with some close friends I don't get to see very often.

LABOR DAY WEEKEND - SEPTEMBER 5-7, 2009

Saturday - September 5, 2009

Not the cool weekend of a couple of weeks ago but certainly not a bad day for riding either.  This will be the last weekend I have available before my Western States 2009 Trip so there are a bunch of things I need to get done this weekend.  I'm supposed to go visit the Barber Motorsports Museum again next weekend and the weekend after that I have company from out of town, but regardless I am going to ride some this weekend.

I took my VFR to the shop this morning to have it run on their dyno, and after that I just headed south on I-65 with no particular destination in mind.  When I came to I-840 I decided to head north and visit Cannonsburg Frontier Village in Murfreesboro.  It's an interesting place and the last time I was there it was covered in snow (pix are Here).  I wandered around for a while, took some photos, and then headed back toward home.  I did manage to get a couple of things done this afternoon but not as many as I needed to.  

   
 

Sunday - September 6, 2009

I got up this morning and checked the weather and the 20% chance of rain that was forecast yesterday had turned into a 50% chance of thunder storms.  There were also big blobs of color on the radar, especially south and east of Nashville.  So, I decided to stay in the vicinity of Nashville in case I needed to head back home in a hurry.

I rode to Columbia, TN and got some breakfast and then cut east to a little spot called "Wilhoite Mill".  During the second half of the 19th century there was a community named Wilhoite at this location beside the Duck River, and the remains of the grain mill located in the community are sort of still visible.

The site is located on what is now Henry Horton State Park and it right beside the Duck River.  In 1902 a flood destroyed the mill.  All that is left is a rusty drive line, a rusty flywheel, and some chamfer gears laying in what was once the spillway that powered the mill.  The photos below show what is left of the mill.  

 

I headed back in the general direction of Nashville but decided to stop at Cane Ridge Park and see if anyone was flying model airplanes.  There were a few guys under the shelter preparing their airplanes so I sat down on the bleachers to wait.  This little guy sat down beside me.  I guess he wanted to watch as well.  

 
 

After a few minutes, one took to the air and flew around for a while.  

   
 

Any time I see an airplane flying against a cloudy background I am reminded so vividly of the poem "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.  It doesn't matter whether it's a light airplane, a military fighter, a commercial jet, or even a radio controlled model, I still get the same feeling.  I guess one has to be a pilot to really appreciate it.  

 
REMEMBRANCE - SEPTEMBER 12, 2009

Want to know who the American Hero is?  It isn't an entertainer or media personality or sports figure or politician.  It sure as hell isn't that dimwit in the White House right now.  The true American Hero is the kid next door who wears the Marine Corps uniform.  It's the kid who traded his pizza delivery uniform for desert camo.  It's your daughter's best friend who is now in the Air Force.  It's all of the mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters who wear the uniform of ANY of our armed forces.  It is the firefighters and the police and paramedics and air evac crews.  They are ALL heroes in my book.  Every single one of them.

Eight years ago yesterday, on September 11, 2001, 2,993 people died in my country because of the beliefs of a small cadre of terrorists.  Eight years and I remember it as vividly as if it were yesterday.  I can remember exactly where I was, exactly what I was doing, and exactly how shocked and disgusted I was.  There are many in this country who would have us forgive those who caused this, who would have us pretend that it never happened, who would prefer that we turn the other cheek so that it can happen again.  I for one am not willing to do that.  I will never forget for as long as I live nor will I ever forgive those who were in any way responsible.

The memorial below was set up behind my office building yesterday and I rode over there today to take a few photos of it.  It is the only one I've seen in this entire area.  The flags are in honor of Tennesseans who died in the service of their country since 9/11.  Men and women who died for something they believed in.  They died protecting me and my way of life, and I don't know how to repay that debt.  All I can do is honor their memory and I do that gladly.  

There was a remembrance service at 5:00pm and I went back for that.  Perhaps this event wasn't very well publicized.  Perhaps, as I said above, people today just want to push distasteful events under the rug and pretend that they didn't happen.  I didn't count the number of people there but there were probably a couple of dozen.  I'm not sure which is sadder, the event that caused this service or the fact that so few people cared.

The Patriot Guard had a contingent there.  I respect what the Patriot Guard does but that little game of "My Bike Is Louder Than Your Bike" when they pulled in was completely inappropriate and completely inexcusable.  This was NOT the place to try and impress everyone with how much noise they could make, and my respect for them dropped a few degrees today.

More photos are below.  They are very much like the ones above, but I'd post a hundred more if it would make people pay attention.  This is MY country that those people attacked.  Those were MY countrymen and allies who died.  I am NOT willing to forgive and forget, nor am I willing to pretend it never happened.  I am proud of our armed forces and emergency services.  I respect them for what they are, for what they do, and for what they have sacrificed.  If that offends your tender sensibilities, tough.  I couldn't care less.  Feel free to go to another web site that will humor your politically correct nature.  This one is mine and I write what I believe.  

OUT AND ABOUT - SEPTEMBER 13, 2009

I stayed close to home again today because I've got a lot of things to do before my Fall Trip in 2½ weeks.  I did get out and ride for a while though.  I stopped at Centennial Park for a few photos and then headed down the Natchez Trace Parkway about 50 miles or so.  Coming back up the Parkway I got behind a string of cars, about a dozen of them, and to my surprise they were all exotics.  One Maserati, one Lamborghini, and the rest were Ferraris.  Some were old whereas some were relatively new.  I'm not sure where they were going but it was fun to ride along and look at them.  

RAINY WEEKEND - SEPTEMBER 19-20, 2009

We have had a very dry summer but it caught up with us the past few days.  It's been raining since mid week and is forecast to continue for a couple of more days.  Saturday I hung around home and thought about all the things I need to get done before my Fall Trip starts in 11 days.  I didn't accomplish any of them but at least I did think about them.  One of my Arizona buddies has been in Crossville for the past few days visiting family so I rode up there Sunday to spend some time with her.  It rained off and on all the way to Crossville and part of the way back, but I knew it was coming and was dressed for it.  I don't mind riding in rain when I expect it and dress for it, it's those surprise storms that hit when I'm not ready that annoy me.

The other Arizona lady is due in Thursday to spend a few days, and it will be great to see her again.  She flies back to Arizona on Monday and then AGirl and I head out on the following Thursday for a 3,000 mile trip to Phoenix.  Yeah, I know the shortest route from Nashville to Phoenix isn't 3,000 miles but it is the way we're going.  I'm ready!  Let's get this ride on the road.  Oh wait, I forgot about that list of stuff I didn't do yesterday ;)  

SOUTHERN COMFORT - SEPTEMBER 27, 2009

My two favorite ladies in the entire state of Arizona have both been in town for the past few days.  AGirl rode in last Tuesday and KC flew in Thursday.  It rained until today so we didn't get out much but today dawned clear and bright so we headed out on the bikes.  KC wanted to see something "Truly Southern" so we decided that there could be nothing more southern than the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, TN.

On the way we stopped at Cannonsburgh Frontier Villiage in Murfreesboro simply because I thought it was an interesting place for her to visit and it was on the way.  I only took a couple of photos but I've been there several times and there are many photos at This URL.

The two photos I did take were of a very early Porsche ;)  

   
 

I think the placard said that it was a 1950 vintage machine.

We headed on south to Lynchburg and the Jack Daniels Distillery.  Jack Daniels no longer allows photographs inside any of the process buildings so I honored their wishes and only took photographs outside.  I do, however, have a bunch of photos from a visit in November, 2006 on This Page which were taken before they changed their rules.  

 
 

We headed back north toward Nashville and stopped at Radnor Lake for a walk.  This is one place that KC specifically wanted to stop at so she could see some turtles.  Again, I didn't take a lot of photos but there are MANY photos of the lake on This Page of my web site.  

   
 

KC and AGirl ahd dinner plans and I needed to update this page and get started packing for my Upcoming Trip so we headed in separate directions.  KC flies out for Arizona tomorrow afternoon, and even though I'll see her again in about 10 days when we get to Phoenix I already miss her.  

EIGHT STATES, EIGHT DAYS - WESTERN TRIP II

What a trip!  Nashville to Phoenix by way of Colorado and Utah!  2,944 miles in 8 days through 8 states and then another week enjoying Arizona, all in the company of my two favorite people in the whole state of Arizona.  Trips like this one don't happen often enough, and I guess that makes them a bit more memorable.  This one will be hard to forget though!

My friend AGirl was returning home following her FJR Fall Full Circle 2009 and since her V-Strom was in my basement and needed to get back to Arizona it only made sense that I tag along with her and ride it back.  Rather than take the most direct route we chose to ride up through Colorado and Utah and then drop down into Arizona.  It was a fantastic trip.

Click Here For The Complete Ride Report

There are over 700 photographs on the entire 8-day ride report, including a side-trip to the Grand Canyon, showing what I think is some of the most magnificent scenery in the country.  

TREES ALONG THE TRACE - NOVEMBER 1, 2009

I've made a trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway every year for the past several years to get photographs of the fall colors.  The Trace is a beautiful place at any time but during the fall when the trees are in color it is just plain gorgeous.  I timed it just right this year because the trees were absolutely bleeding color.  We've had some rain and wind lately and I was afraid I'd miss it but I didn't.  The leaves are really pouring down right now so this will probably be all the photos I get of them this year, but today was fantastic!  






   
GREAT RIDING WEATHER - NOVEMBER 7 & 8, 2009

I hate it when the weather guessers are wrong.  I guess I can forgive them in this particular instance since the error was in my favor.  When I got up Saturday the weather forecast for both days was for a high of 65°.  At 6:30am Saturday it was already 55° and clear so I kind of wondered about their high forecast.  I left home wearing my intermediate jacket with a liner in it.  It wasn't long before I came out of the liner, and it wasn't long after that I was wishing I had worn my mesh jacket!  Sunday I did wear my mesh jacket.  I wore my liner with it, and once again it wasn't long before the liner was too much.  By the time I got back home I was actually sweating a little bit.  Since it's November I guess I can't complain too loudly though ;)


Saturday - November 7, 2009

I couldn't decide where I wanted to go today so I just headed east on I-40.  I got some breakfast at Gordonsville and then headed a few miles further east to Highway 56.  There is a scenic overlook on that highway that looks out over Center Hill Lake and I thought it might be pretty with the fall leaves (what is left of them).  I wasn't disappointed!  

   

If you want to stop and take a look at this overlook the GPS coordinates are: N36.04444 W85.75119

Since I was close to Center Hill Lake I decided to backtrack a few miles to Highway 96 and ride over to the Center Hill Dam and look around.  The highway runs across the top of the dam and the views from both sides are very nice, especially in the fall.  I even found a little waterfall about 50' high right at the foot of the dam.

GPS coordinates at the dam are N36.09876 W85.82485 for anyone who might want to stop by there.  


I rode back into Murfreesboro and stopped at Cannonsburgh Frontier Village for a little while.  The weather was just too nice to go back home, the trees still have vivid colors in them and the sky was a brilliant blue for a change.

Cannonsburgh is right in the middle of Murfreesboro.  The GPS coordinates are N35.84363 W86.39554.  


 

I took Highway 70S through Smyrna and stopped at Couchville Lake at Long Hunter State Park.  Couchville Lake used to be one of my "Quiet Spots" that I visited when I just wanted to walk and clear my head.  It's a 500 acre land-locked lake and it's quiet and peaceful.  GPS coordinates at the lake are: N36.09408 W86.54446.  


 

So there is today's ride.  I nice little 170 mile loop in fantastic weather.  If the weather holds, and it is supposed to, I may ride in the direction of Monteagle tomorrow.


Sunday - November 8, 2009

I didn't go very far today, only about 80 miles or so, but I spent a lot of time doing it.  I kept stopping to take photographs at different places, talking to people, and just enjoying the mild weather.

I stopped at a Shoneys in Brentwood for some breakfast, and then headed to my office.  I wanted to take some photos of the trees around my office building because they have really been gorgeous lately.  


 

From my office I headed, as usual, for the Natchez Trace Parkway to see what the leaves there looked like.  Close to Nashville they were quite pretty, but farther out they were virtually gone.  The entire route was nowhere near as bright and vivid as last week, and in places it even looked like winter.  The weather was so nice I really didn't care, I was just enjoying the ride.  



 

It was just way too nice to go back home but it was also late enough in the day that I didn't want to go anywhere distant.  It is getting dark about 4:45 right now and that really cuts into the daylight that we have become accustomed to.  I already miss Daylight Savings Time and I wish to hell we'd just stay on it year round!

Anyway, I headed through Nashville to Centennial Park and took a bunch of photos of the birds and waterfowl around the lake.  






   

KC the Pigeon photos are just for you since i know how you love them ;)


250 miles or so for the weekend and absolutely fantastic weather for the first week in November.  It will come to a screeching halt pretty soon, about the middle of the coming week if the eather guessers are correct, but this weekend just couldn't have been much better.  Clear blue skies with not a cloud visible anywhere.  Mild spring-like temperatures, and still a lot of color left in the trees.  All in all a great weekend for riding.  

GREAT RIDING WEATHER II - NOVEMBER 14 & 15, 2009

Saturday - November 14, 2009

I rode to Rugby, TN today to try and obtain a Tennessee Historical Commission stamp for my Passport Stamp collection.  From what I understand the Tennessee Historical Commission placed rubber stamps at approximately 95 hisoric sites within Tennessee.  There was a book for sale that listed all of the stamps and people who were so inclined could visit the sites and collect the stamps of the sites.  Over the intervening years man of the stamps have been lost.  I've visited 30 of the sites so far and have only gotten 19 stamps, the others are missing.

The weather, once again, was fantastic.  When I left home the temperature was 53° and when I got back it was 68°.  I took I-40 east to Cookeville, and then hit Highway 111 north to Livingston, TN.  From there I took Highway 52 east through Jamestown to Rugby.

Rugby is an interesting town.  According to their web site, "... the restored Victorian village founded in 1880 by British author and social reformer, Thomas Hughes.  It was to be a cooperative, class-free, agricultural community for younger sons of English gentry and others wishing to start life anew in America.  At its peak, some 350 people lived in the colony.  More than 70 buildings of Victorian design graced the townscape on East Tennessee's beautiful Cumberland Plateau."

I just stopped at the Visitors Center (GPS coordinates: N36.36024, W84.70034) and then rode down the main street through town.  There are a number of antique stores, bed-and-breakfast inns, and other interesting places to visit.  I was trying to get back to Nashville before 2:00 (I didn't quite make it) so I didn't stick around very long.  A few photos and a GPS track log are included below.  

 

Sunday - November 15, 2009

Well, I didn't go far today but I did get out and ride some.  I wanted to get out and play with my camera for a while so I decided to make a stop at Centennial Park and take some pictures of the critters there.  I got some goot shots of American Coots, Gray Squirrels, and even some decent photos of Pigeons and Canada Geese in flight.  


Common Pigeon - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Common Pigeons - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Common Pigeons - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

American Coot - Centennial Park - 11/15/09


American Coot - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

American Coot - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

American Coot - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

American Coot - Centennial Park - 11/15/09


American Coot - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

American Coot - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

American Coot - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Gray Squirrel - Centennial Park - 11/15/09


Gray Squirrel - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Gray Squirrel - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Gray Squirrel - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Gray Squirrel - Centennial Park - 11/15/09


Gray Squirrel - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Canada Goose - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Canada Geese - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Canada Geese - Centennial Park - 11/15/09


Small Girl - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Small Girl - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Small Girl - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Late Fall Flowers - Centennial Park - 11/15/09


Late Fall Flowers - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Late Fall Flowers - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Late Fall Flowers - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Late Fall Flowers - Centennial Park - 11/15/09


Scenic Reds - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Reflections - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

The Parthenon - Centennial Park - 11/15/09

Water Spray - Centennial Park - 11/15/09
 
Early on Sunday morning is definitely the time to stop at Centennial Park.  When I got there I only saw one other person around the lake.  It was starting to get crowded when I left, which is why I left, so I went and got something to eat and rode around a bit more.
GREAT RIDING WEATHER III - NOVEMBER 28, 2009

Saturday - November 28, 2009

The weather today was just too nice to stay inside.  I rode to Springfield, TN on Thanksgiving morning and it was pretty cold.  I rode a little while yesterday and it was just a little on the cool side.  Today topped out about 70° with clear skies so there was no way I was going to waste it.

I had to meet some friends, my buddy AGirl among them, this morning but I drove to Radnor Lake beforehand and Took A Few Photos  I then spent some time with AGirl and her family after which we decided to go ride for a while.

Rather than ride her bike from Phoenix this time she flew out so she was "Bikeless".  Luckily I have two so she rode my V-Strom.  We didn't go far, just out on the Natchez Trace Parkway for a while but the fresh air and warm temperatures were very welcome for the end of November in Tennessee.  If the rain holds off, as it is forecast to do, we're going to take a ride "Somewhere" tomorrow.  I'm not sure where but we'll find someplace.

Sunday - November 29, 2009

Once again the weather was just too nice not to get out and ride.  At the end of November last year I wrote this on my rides page, "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°."  Today it topped out at 63° and even though there is a 30% chance of rain tomorrow it is still suppoed to be in the 50's for the first half of the coming week.

AGirl and I rode out around Center Hill Lake today and came back along the backroads through Smithville, Murfreesboro, and Smyrna.  A nice little 160 mile loop in fantastic November weather with one of my best friends.  As was the case yesterday she rode my V-Strom and I rode my VFR.  At some point during one of my two trips out west this year (details Here and Here) she commented that it looked strange to see her bike in her rearview mirror since I was riding her V-Strom.  I now understand what she meant, it does indeed look strange to see my other motorcycle in the mirror ;)

I don't know how long this streak of decent weather will last but I'll keep riding as long as it does.  I still have a few more miles and a few more places I'd like to ride to this year.

LOUSY RIDING WEATHER I - DECEMBER 5 & 6, 2009

Last week I mentioned that I wasn't sure how long our spate of great riding weather was going to last.  It lasted about one more day.  It was rainy and cool most of last week and Friday the bottom fell out of the thermometer.  From the low 70's last weekend we went to the low 40's this weekend.  This weekend when I got up it was in the low 20's both mornings.  So my bikes stayed in the basement this weekend.

I did get out though, it just wasn't on a bike.  Saturday I went to Radnor Lake and took a bunch of photographs (Click Here) and Sunday I went to Centennial Park and took a bunch more photographs (Click Here).  Maybe I'll get a few more miles in before 2009 calls it quits but that depends primarily on the weather.  Guess I'll just have to see what happens over the next few weekends.

LOUSY RIDING WEATHER II - THE REST OF DECEMBER, 2009

December has not been kind to motorcyclists this year.  December 26, 2008 topped out at about 65° whereas December 26, 2009 will hit about 43°.  Rain, cold, and wind have prevented me from riding much this month, and it fact it is my shortest mileage month since I bought my V-Strom in May, 2006.  About all I've done in December is go to Radnor Lake and Centennial Park and take photographs.  Even those short trips were done in my truck and not on a bike.

Winter in this part of the country is not any fun since all we normally get is a lot of cold, sloppy, gray weather.  The temperature normally hovers a few degrees above freezing so while many parts of the country get snow we get cold rain.  Spring will get here though and until it does I'll do some maintenance on my bikes and get ready for the 2010 season.  At least with our lack of snow I can get out and ride from time to time, it's just not as much fun.

As I write this on December 27 I have ridden a grand total of 130 miles this month and 75 of those were today.  The lows the past week or so have been in the 20's which makes riding to work not a lot of fun.  By the time it warms up to freezing on the weekends it is mid morning already.  So, the bottom line is that I haven't been riding much.  I'll make up for it i nthe spring but right now nothing much is going on.

END OF YEAR - DECEMBER 26, 2009
At the beginning of this page I wrote that a new year is something like a blank canvas in that it isn't anything until we make something out of it.  I feel that I did a lot of painting on that blank canvas because this year has been wonderful.  I accomplished several things on a motorcycle this year that I never would have believed possible a few years ago.

Perhaps the most personally satisfying event this year is that I completed a coast-to-coast trip on a motorcycle.  It wasn't all at once but rather in three sections.  Last September I rode to the East Coast on my VFR.  In February of this year I flew to Phoenix and rode to the West Coast on a friend's V-Strom.  The first part of October was spent closing out the Central USA on the same V-Strom when I rode it from Nashville to Phoenix.  When I got my V-Strom in May, 2006 I never would have believed that I could one day say that I had ridden from coast to coast.  That is a very satisfying personal event to me and one that I will remember.

2009 encompasses so many sights and so many memories.  People and places that I couldn't forget if I tried to.  From a sunrise in Arroyo Grande, CA to a sunset over the mountains of West Virginia I covered a lot of ground and had a great time doing so.  I rode about 17,000 miles and visited parts of 14 states (actually 15 since I did catch the corner of Georgia).  I visited at least 57 National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests, State Parks, Museums, or just plain interesting sites.  I visited the Pacific Ocean and enjoyed sultry weather in February while it was about 20° at home.  I saw the west coast of California and rode along parts of Highway 1.  I saw the mountains of Colorado and the rock formations of Utah and New Mexico.  I visited the Grand Canyon, the deserts of Arizona, and parts of Historic Route 66.  I collected 46 National Park Passport stamps from West Virginia to California.  I saw more lakes and rivers and streams and waterfalls than I can count.  I visited aircraft museums and armor museums and mining museums.  I saw glass sculptures in a botanical garden in Arizona and I saw marble sculptures in a castle in California.  I rode from Nashville to the Pacific Ocean in California.  I took over 9,000 photographs this year alone, and over 2,000 of them are on this page and the sub pages.  I've seen more wonderful sites this year alone than most people will see in a lifetime, and I did it all on a motorcycle.  If someone had told me four years ago that I would do these things on a motorcycle I would have said they were crazy.

My wife got me a digital photo frame for Christmas this year, and I loaded about 2,000 photographs I've taken around the country onto it.  It sits on my desk at work and I find myself staring at it from time to time simply because I can remember taking virtually every photograph on it.  I can remember the heat at St. Augustine, FL last year and I can remember the cold at Cedar Breaks National Monument this year.  I remember the rain at Zion National Park and the clear blue skies of Joshua Tree National Park.  Closer to home I remember the deer at Radnor Lake and the geese at Centennial Park.  It's amazing how clearly the memories come flooding back when I see some of those photographs.

Much of this would never have happened without the efforts of two very special ladies in Arizona.  They planned and worried and worked and planned some more.  I spent three weeks with them, One Week In February and then later in the year Two Weeks in October.  Without these two much of what is so memorable about this year would never have happened.  I cannot thank them enough, nor do I even know how to start.  Those three weeks mean more to me than I could ever express, and a Thank You doesn't even come close.  You two are the best and I honestly don't know what I'd do without you.

A few more days are left in 2009 and then it will be the beginning of a new year and a new decade.  My goal for 2010 is to see parts of the country from a motorcycle that I have never been to before.  I've never visited the northeast states, or any of the northern states for that matter, and I hope to rectify that in part this coming year.  So as I bid a fond farewell to 2009 and recall the memories of the places I visited and the people that I met and spent time with, I also look forward to 2010 and all of its memories yet to be.  

UPCOMING TRIPS

Below is a listing of places I had planned on trying to visit during 2009.  It's getting late in the year and I've got a 2-Week Trip West planned for the first half of October so it's unlikely that I'll get to many of them this year.  Guess I'll just have to roll them over to 2010!

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, 2009
2009 Miles Ridden:16,676 (Suzuki DL650: 6,436 - Honda VFR800FI: 5,296 - Other: 4,944)
Most Miles In A Day:556 mi on 11/30/2009
Longest Multi-Day Trip:2,944 miles over 8 days
States Visited:14 (TN, AZ, CA, KY, VA, WV, NC, AL, AR, OK, TX, NM, CO, UT)


Copyright © 1997-2016, Scott A. Craig, All Rights Reserved