Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Great Ohio River Run...... (Not!)

For various reasons, I have been unable to pick up a National Park in the state of Ohio. This oversight presented an ideal opportunity for yet another great solo bike trip.

The planned date of departure, Tuesday, Oct 23rd, predictably arrived amidst a monsoon, breaking a summer long drought.

It had been raining steadily for several days and there were few signs of it letting up. Reluctantly, I decided to postpone my departure one more day, all the while keeping a keen eye on the weather channel.

My original plan was to take three “leisurely” days to make this trip, with a planned three or four day stop at my daughters home. I also had planned a much anticipated two-lane ride up the Illinois, Indiana and Ohio side of the Ohio River. Delaying my departure cut my trip time by one third, making it impossible to ride the river road, while visiting the National Parks I had planned.

Wednesday morning, Oct. 24th, I woke up at 4:30 am and checked the weather radar on both the TV and my laptop. Both confirmed light showers around the Paducah area, forty-eight degrees, with clearing skies to the east. On that somewhat optimistic note, I grabbed the last few items that were not already packed, kissed Carolyn goodbye, and headed out the door at 5 am.

So much for the weatherman!

My first stop came at 6:45 am in Beaver Dam, KY, after riding 120 miles in the dark, in a steady rain. I grabbed a cup of coffee and a breakfast biscuit and continued on to Louisville where the rain finally let up for a brief 30 minutes. After quickly negotiating the dry Waterson Expressway, I rode the now rain soaked I-71 northeast to downtown Cincinnati, OH where I found the first park on my list.

William Howard Taft National Historic Site
A memorial to the 27th President and 10th Chief Justice of The United States.

Leaving Cincinnati, I rode northeast 120 miles to Chillicothe, OH to visit Hopewell Culture National Historical Park.

Earthen mounds of various shapes and enclosures, often built in geometric patterns, dot the landscape of this Ohio River Valley. These earthen structures were doubtless the work of many human hands. Evidence suggests that Hopewell earthworks were used for a variety of ceremonial and social activities between 200 BC to AD 500. Finally! Beautiful two-lane roads south from Chillicothe, OH to the Ohio River crossing at Maysville, KY. Southern Ohio was at peak fall color and a delight to see, even in the rain. It's a shame my snapshots rarely convey the real fall beauty.

From Maysville I rode south, eventually connecting with I-64 thirty miles east of Winchester, KY. It was on westward to Lexington, KY where, after riding 643 miles, I stopped for dinner at the Cracker Barrel and called it a day.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Stearns, KY

Thursday morning, after waiting for daylight forever, I left at 7:00 am in the dark with light rain, 47 degree temps and a 30 mile per hour wind. It didn't take long to ride the 85 miles south to the Kentucky entrance to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area at Stearns, KY. This park straddles the KY-TN line and has a visitor center in both states.

Big South Fork has some amazing mountain twisties (roads) within the park that rival anything found at Deals Gap. I found the Gorge especially challenging on very steep, wet-leaf strewn switch backs. Fortunately, due to the time of the year, I had the road to myself.

Encompassing 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area protects the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries. The visitor center at Stearns, KY is located in an old train station.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Oneida, TN

After riding south through the park, another thirty miles, I left Big South Fork at Oneida, TN. I exited the west entrance and circled south, around the park, heading east toward I-75 once again.

Fall beauty at every turn!

I continued following two lane mountain roads, crossing I-75, east to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park at Middlesboro, KY. I also rode through the Cumberland Gap Tunnel, which joins Kentucky and Tennessee at this point.

It was 76 miles of beautiful two-lane mountain roads, due east, to Greenville, TN, and my next park.

The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site honors the life of the 17th President. Andrew Johnson's presidency, 1865-1869, illustrates the United States Constitution at work following President Lincoln's assassination and during attempts to reunify a nation torn by civil war. Andrew Johnson's original home.Andrew Johnson is buried in the family cemetery on top of a hill overlooking downtown Greenville, TN.

After visiting this park, I punched "Go to Keaton's Home" (our grandson) on my faithful Garmin and, 248 miles later, I arrived at my daughter's home in Murfreesboro, TN at 7:15 pm.

Another awesome day, riding 674 miles total. The mountains of eastern KY and eastern TN were nothing short of spectacular!

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." ~ Vincent Van Gogh ~

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Day-Trippin To Indiana and Hurricane Mills, TN

Monday, October 15th, I left Paducah solo at 7:15 am and headed northeast, 189 miles, to Vincennes, IN to visit George Rodgers Clark National Historic Park. The park is dedicated to the hearty pioneer explorers whose leadership and courage led the way to settlement of this country. Special attention is devoted to the French, who originally settled Vincennes, and their contribution to exploration of this country.Leaving Vincennes, I rode east to Lincoln City, IN to visit Lincoln's Boyhood National Memorial. This park is located in a beautiful woodland setting.Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham's mother, is believed to be buried at the top of this knoll.

After visiting these two National Parks and watching the videos, I turned south and rode through Rockport, IN, Ownesboro, KY, Bowling Green, KY and on to visit my grandson in Murfreesboro, TN. I rode 680 miles on this two-day trip.

Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch
Hurricane Mills, TN

Thursday, October 18th. a group of ten riders from FDR Honda's Long Table got together for a day trip to Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch in Hurricane Mills, TN.
"Yaller" Wings dominated!
A beautiful grist mill dam and pond located in front of Loretta's home.

Loretta's HomeThe front gate.Lunch at Loretta's Snack ShopLeft to right:

Bill Hulen, Lonnie McReynolds, Teddy Stewart, Charlie Bell, Don Massey, Roy "The Ear Licker" Dawes, Fritz Poat, and Earl "The Pearl" Hemze

The picture does not include myself and Ronnie Edwards who was AWOL sightseeing the grounds.

My odometer shows 277 miles for the round trip.

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.
~Albert Einstein~

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Maine - Sept/Oct 07 (5)

We reluctantly departed Maine, after having breakfast with Glen. The bank temperature sign read a chilly 35 degrees. Carolyn dialed up her new "best friend" (her Gerbing's heated jacket liner) and we headed west, riding the backroads of the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire and Green Mountains of Vermont . Late in the day we crossed the southern tip of Lake Champlain, entering New York once again at Crown Point.After a beautiful ride around the scenic northern side of Lake George, we spent the night at the village of the same name.The next day we rode through the Adirondack's, the Catskills and around the many awesome mountain lakes.We stopped often to take pictures and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.We crossed back into Pennsylvania, stopping at Scranton to visit Steamtown. This is a National Historic Site that honors the steam railroad engine and their contribution to this nations history. Leaving Scranton, we picked up the interstate stopping for the night in Hazelton, PA.

The next morning we continued south across PA and west, following I-68 to I-79 into West Virginia's picturesque mountains, spending the night in Morgantown, WV.

The beautiful ride across West Virginia's scenic mountains provided the fun for the next day. Eventually, we arrived in Lexington, KY. The next morning, after riding the scenic horse farm trail around Lexington, we continued west to the birthplace and boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln at Hodgenville, KY.

As all good things do, this amazing trip came to an end after we followed the West KY Parkway home. We rode a round trip total of 3,789 miles. Carolyn proved to be more than up to the ride and a real trooper.

This country is so vast and beautiful it simply begs to be explored. In our view, there is no better way to truly experience it, with all your senses, than riding a motorcycle.

(Anything underlined has a reference link by double clicking.)
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon ~

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Maine - Sept/Oct 07 (4)

After touring the mountains we headed northeast, through Augusta, on our way to Bar Harbor. The coastal views were nothing short of amazing. Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory at Bucksport ME.Notice the observatory, 42 stories up. Acadia National Park, just outside of Bar Harbor, is breathtakingly beautiful! The Acadia National Park stamp is extremely important because it is the fifth "corner" state required for the Gold. Dinner in Bar Harbor was at McKays and featured roast duck. Simply delicious! Glen and Neil made great company too!
Bar Harbor is a quaint sea village, full of interesting sites. After enjoying a wonderful dinner we shopped in the village.
The night ended watching a beautiful full moon rise over the lighted sailboats in the harbor. Spectacular! Carolyn got up early the next morning, walking the village, taking pictures at daybreak. Seafood is abundant. Lobster pot floats decorate the exterior of the Eagles Nest, a local favorite. Fall is everywhere! The view from high atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park included an arriving cruise ship and the village of Bar Harbor. The view from Mount Battie and the town of Camden, Maine. A lone sailboat. Camden, Maine Glen's Gold Wing with side wheels, Neil's Valkyrie, and our Wing Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Lunch on the wharf at Boothbay
Neil Sorenson Left to right:
Carolyn, Neil Sorenson, Glen Tompkins, me Boothbay Harbor, ME

(Anything underlined has a reference link by double clicking.)
He who dares nothing need hope for nothing. ~Anonymous~