Sunday, May 25, 2008

The USA Four Corners Tour

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008 marks the start my solo USA Four Corners Adventure. I am riding my 2005 Honda GL1800A Gold Wing.

The USA Four Corners Tour is governed by The Southern California Motorcycle Association (SCMA). The actual 21-day tour (drawn in red.) will, more or less, encompass 8,900 miles, beginning in Key West, FL and ending in Madawaska, Maine. The overall month-long trip will cover about 12,200 miles.

I have four primary goals.

(1.) Successfully complete and certify The USA Four Corners Tour.

(2.) Ride in the seven states I have not yet visited on a motorcycle and complete my 49 state-sign picture collection.

(3.) Use as many of the 21 days allowed as possible, sniff a few flowers, and ride some new and interesting roads.

(4.) Collect at least one National Park Stamp in the states I have not yet visited. (Deleware does not presently have a National Park)

To appease an otherwise very patient wife, I will be utilizing a SPOT Personal Tracker (Satellite Tracking System) which will display my exact location at any given time. I would like to thank Jason Jonas for providing the unique, copyrighted mapping program I will be using for this ride.

A little about the map for those that have never used a Google Earth Map; You will notice arrows on the top left side of the map. These arrows allow you to move the map from side to side and to zoom in and out. You can also move the map by simply left clicking, holding and draging. If you zoom in close and click Satellite (top right) you will see an actual picture of the area.

To view my entire trip map page "Click Here"

To view the 24 hour SPOT map "Click Here"

I invite you to follow my daily progress here on my blog and on my personal map pages. As always, I welcome comments, so please feel free.
Four wheels move the body ...... Two wheels move the soul. ~Frank T. Lorello~

"The door of safety swings on the hinges of common sense." ~Tesoro Refinery~

Monday, May 19, 2008

Eastern V Strom Nat Get-Together, Stecoah, NC

The V Strom International Forum organizes two annual "get-togethers" on opposite sides of the country. The Eastern get-together was held at The Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge in Stecoah, NC May 16th to 18th.

V Strom riders from all over the eastern US arrive to swap tales and enjoy the scenic Smokey Mountain roads, both on and off the pavement. The Iron Horse is a full service motel and also includes a social area, dining services, and onsite camping.

Kevin Pugh and I departed Paducah Friday morning, June 16th, and rode I-24 to Murfreesboro, TN. Leaving the interstate, we picked up two-lane roads (Hwy 70 & 30) east across central and eastern Tennessee. This was my first time riding this area, and I was more than a little impressed with its scenic beauty. At Sparta, TN, we caught up with the rainy weather front that had covered Paducah the previous day. The rain was light and spotty, and proved not to be a problem.

We stopped at Tellico Plains, TN to check out the Tellico Motorcycle Outfitters. This is a high-end shop with an excellent inventory of bike clothing and related products. I was specifically interested in seeing the new Olympia line of bike clothing. I think I found my next riding jacket .... we'll see.

Leaving Tellico Plains, we immediately rode up The Cherohala Skyway. As soon as we reached the higher elevations we encountered a stiff wind, dense fog, and spitting rain. The fog was simply too thick to continue, so we made the prudent decision to return a campground near Tellico Plains. We spent the night at The Indian Boundary Recreational Area waiting out the fast moving front.

Anyone who knows me, knows I normally do not camp, and have not since my service days. However, I had updated my camping gear for the Alaska trip, and never had the opportunity to put it to use. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with camping, and also to evaluate whether I would include camping gear in my upcoming Four Corners Tour.

It did not take us long to locate the campground, and to set up. Canned soup, beef stew, and trail mix were on the dinner menu. It rained off and on, lightly. The evening was futher punctuated by the call of the owls, and the whippoorwills. All in all, not a bad night.

Saturday morning, after quickly breaking camp, we continued up the Cherohala Skyway. The rainy weather front from the day before had long since cleared and left a beautiful, bright blue sky with infinite visibility. In all of my Smokey Mountain trips, I have never seen it any prettier, or the visibility any farther.

It did not take us long to find the Big Santeetlah Creek Road (Forest Service Road 81), which runs from the top of the Cherohala almost to Robbinsville, NC. This is a beautiful gravel road that winds up and down the mountains, through deep woods, alongside mountain streams and beautiful waterfalls.

For some unexplained reason, large groups of butterflies were congregating on the damp ground. We saw several different varieties almost everywhere we rode.

The Stewart Cabin , located on the Big Santeetlah Creek Road, is an unmanned National Historic Site. We stopped here to take a break, and talk to the many off road riders passing through.

We arrived at The Iron Horse in Stecoah, NC around noon Saturday, registered, and quickly set up our camp alongside the many tents already there.

Not wanting to waste a beautiful day in the Smokey’s, we rode over to Bryson City for lunch. From there we rode up the Blue Ridge Parkway to the point of the highest elevation before returning to Stecoah via Waynesville and The Smokey Mountain Parkway. (Notice the clear, bright blue sky)

Saturday night we had dinner at The Iron Horse, and visited with the many V Strom riders in for the meet. I saw several old faces from previous meets, and many new ones. Later, we retired to our tents along side a beautiful stream that passes through the property.

Sunday morning we broke camp early, and were ready to ride after an Iron Horse breakfast.

The ride home included a quick stop at The Tail of the Dragon Store. For some unknown reason I had never seen The Tree of Shame even though I had been to the store many times. This infamous tree sports broken parts picked up from the many motorcycle wrecks that happen on a daily basis riding The Dragon.

(Photo's by

After riding The Dragon, we continued on to Marysville and rode the interstates home to Paducah, arriving home at 2:30 pm.

No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities. ~Christian Nestell Bovee~