Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cherry Blossoms and a National Park Stamp Bonanza

April 21st of 2007 I began my year-long Ironbutt National Parks Tour by collecting my first stamp while riding the 07 Cape Fear Rally. With my one-year deadline fast approaching, I decided to visit Washington DC, the National Park Stamp mecca of the country, as a fitting way to officially end my parks tour. Mike & Rhonda Jennings accepted my invitation to join me on this trip.

Day One - Monday, April 7th

The first day combined two lane sightseeing and Interstate mileage. We left Paducah, KY at 7 am and rode I-24 south to Clarksville, TN where we stopped for breakfast. From Clarksville we rode back roads, bypassing Nashville and riding just north of I-40. We rejoined I-40 at Cookeville, TN, continuing our ride through Knoxville, TN, then turning north on I-81. After dinner in Bristol, TN we continued the short distance to Abingdon, VA where we spent the first night.

Day Two - Tuesday, April 8th Breakfast the second morning came at Paul's in Independence, VA. Leaving Independence, we rode several twisty, two-lane roads climbing up to The Blue Ridge Parkway where we passed Mabry Mill on the way to Rocky Knob Visitor Center. Unfortunately, as is the case so often this time of the year, The Blue Ridge Parkway was covered in a dense fog. As if that was not enough, the Rocky Knob Visitor Center was not yet open for the season. We quickly made the decision to forgo the Blue Ridge Parkway stamp and found the first road to the east off the parkway.

Two of the best twisty roads of the trip came as we worked our way eastward along the mountains .

Arriving in Hardy, VA we visited The Booker T. Washington National Monument. On April 5, 1856, Booker T. Washington was born a slave on the 207-acre farm of James Burroughs. After the Civil War, Washington became founder and first principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School. Later as an adviser, author and orator, his past would influence his philosophies as the most influential African American of his era.

We rode by The National D-Day Memorial, a privately funded monument and park in Bedford, VA.

Located in the town suffering the highest per capita D-Day losses in the nation, the National D-Day Memorial pays tribute to the Allied Forces participating in the largest land,sea, and air operation in history: the invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944.

While passing through Charlottesville, VA we visited the Monticello Visitor Center. Monticello was the estate of Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence, the third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia.

After riding over four hundred fifty miles of wet, two lane mountain roads, we arrived after the Fredericksburg National Battlefield and Stonewall Jackson Shrine had closed. We continued on the short distance to Woodbridge VA, where we spent the second night.

Day Three - Wednesday, April 9thWednesday morning we left Woodbridge, VA, 30 miles south of DC, at 5:50 am with the hopes of beating the morning rush hour into Washington. As you can see, it was not a unique idea. I-95, six northbound lanes wide, bumper to bumper and a sea of tail lights. We rode in the much faster inside HOV lanes for motorcycles and cars with three or more passengers.

After several unsuccessful attempts to find street-side parking, we took the advice of a Capitol Police Officer and parked the bikes under The Ronald Reagan Building, in a protected public parking area.

As soon as the Wings were secure, we began our walking tour. I should mention, if you plan to come to DC, consider a guided bus tour. I was amazed at distances involved.

The US Capitol Building as viewed from The Washington Monument. The Washington Monument Lodge is in the right foreground.

The Washington MonumentThe legendary Survey Lodge. As it turned out, all but one of the National Park stamps formerly at this location have been moved to The Washington Monument Lodge.

The Washington Monument Lodge - Twenty-two National Park stamps in one location. The National Parks Service consolidates many of the unmanned monument and site stamps in one location.

We also visited the White House Visitor Center. The Lincoln Memorial and the recentely completed World War 2 Monument, as viewed from the Washington Monument.

We arrived in Washington during the second week of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The weather was chilly and yet, even with an overcast sky, the cherry trees were simply beautiful.

The National Civil War Monument The US Treasury Building From downtown Washington we quickly rode to Anacostia Park - National Capital Parks – East on the DC side of the Potomac River. Here we found yet another box full of NP stamps just waiting to be collected.

Arlington National Cemetery The view of Washington from Arlington National Cemetery John F. Kennedy Gravesite and Eternal Flame. Turkey Run Park

Turkey Run Park is located along the Virginia shore of the Potomac River, just seven miles from downtown Washington, D.C. on the beautiful George Washington Memorial Parkway. Turkey Run Park contains another large assortment of National Park stamps for the parks and trails in the immediate area.

The Clara Barton National Historic Site

This site was closed and available to the public by prearranged Ranger Tours only. Clara Barton dedicated her life and energies to help others in times of need, both home and abroad, and founded The Red Cross.

Our last stop for Day Three was Monocacy National Battlefield. In the summer of 1864, General Jubal Early led Confederate forces towards Washington, D.C. and threatened to capture the capitol city. On July 9, Union troops under General Lew Wallace met Early's forces here at Monocacy.

We spent the third night in nearby Fredrick, MD.

Day Four - Thursday, April 10th

Our first stop on the fourth day was Catoctin Mountain Park. Unfortunately, this park did not open until 10 am. Considering we arrived at 7:30 am, we chose not to wait.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created programs to give people a chance to rebuild their lives from the Great Depression. The Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) gave this land a second opportunity and through re-growth, a new role as a recreation area.

We continued our ride to a series of parks centered along The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. Originally, the C&O Canal was a lifeline for communities and businesses along the Potomac River, as coal, lumber, grain, and other agricultural products floated down the canal to market.

We visited canal sites at Potomac, Sharpsburg/Antietam and Williamsport, Maryland.

We also visited Antietam National Battlefield, the site of America's bloodiest battle. 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing, after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion into the North, and led to Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

See my previous page here.

Sideling Hill, Big Pool, MD

At Sideling Hill on Interstate 68, 6 miles west of Hancock, MD, we climbed to the top of the visitor center to check out the view.

Sideling Hill has been a formidable obstacle to travel since the earliest days when settlers were moving west. Travelers formerly crossed the mountain, about two miles to the south on U.S. 40. A new route to the west was needed to meet Interstate standards. Construction of the road cut began in 1983.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield The Opening Battle of a World War.

The battle at Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754 was the opening action of The French and Indian War. This war was a clash of British, French and American Indian cultures. It ended with the removal of French power from North America. The stage was set for the American Revolution.

Friendship Hill National Histoic Site

The home of Albert Gallatin , best remembered for his thirteen year tenure as Secretary of the Treasury during the Jefferson and Madison administrations. In that time he reduced the national debt, purchased the Louisiana Territory and funded Lewis & Clark explorations.

Located near Farmington in southwestern PA, on the original National Road (US 40), this site is also only open on weekends.

After leaving Friendship Hill, we rode 165 miles southwest, briefly following the Monongahela River and ending our day just outside Charleston, WV. We experienced a very unusual high temperture of 86 degrees this afternoon as we crossed Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Day Five - Friday, April 11th

Friday morning we packed and were on the road by 6 am, with the goal of riding out of West Virginia before the rain started. We encountered moderate to heavy rainfall at Ashland, KY, continuing until Bardstown, KY. After the rain stopped ,we experienced gusty winds the rest of the way home.

To break the Interstate monotony and lessen the high winds, we exited the Western Kentucky Parkway at Dawson Springs, and road US Hwy 62 to Calvert City, KY. After 1,910 miles, I parted ways with Mike & Rhonda, and headed to Lone Oak via I-24, while they continued Hwy 62 to Paducah and on to Brookport, IL.

I would like to thank Rhonda and Mike for a great trip. I would also like to thank them for many of their beautiful photos posted on this page.

Remember, comments are "always" welcome! Please feel free to use the comment button below or send an e-mail to

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away." ~Unknown~

"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you please unless it causes others harm. With it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." ~P.J. O'Rourke~


  1. Gorgeous photos! What a great trip! And you hit the motherload of stamps, too. Bonus!

  2. Enjoyed the pictures and as usual I was filled with a lots of wishes. I wish I could have gone with you.
    You had good traveling friends and like you say, "you ride alike."
    Keep it up and have a good time and thanks for sharing.
    DU from Indiana

  3. Hell. Yeah. Great ride, Mike!

  4. Well, you've done it again. What a trip and with a couple of nice people too. I always enjoyed my trips with Mike and Rhonda.
    Too bad the timing was a little off at some of the parks.


  5. Just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed your narrative and photos, not to mention my envy...caught your site a little late, like almost two years, but it is new to me. I purchased a Goldwing last year and itching to try some of the rides to the Smokies you have described, such as the Tennessee Spring Fling. Thanks for sharing.

    Marty Hill

  6. PS: When you ride the WK Pky you pass within a couple of miles of me, near Leitchfield on the Eastern end. Marty