2012: BBQ Bon Vivant Tour

April 27

Well, I am in the pre-stage period for my annual Summer solo trip.

My planned trip is already being somewhat altered. On my first leg of the trip, I was going to go straight East to Brooklyn NY to visit my daughter. But she is going to be out of the country on business for an extended period of time, so changes must be made.
The current plan is to shoot southeast, see my brother and his family in Indy, then head for the East coast from there and then meander south from there to Key West. On the way, perhaps I'll venture towards the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Shenandoah Parkway and the Tail of the Dragon....all motorcycle musts when in the area.

Anyway, the Goldwing is in good order. Fluids are changed and add-ons are functional. The 12v socket in the left glove box was a success and I just have filed a small notch on the lower box liner (not the lid) to accommodate the GPS cord so it doesn't get crimped. Not a big deal. In one of my recent shake-down rides, I did have to thread-lock the RAM ball as it kept twisting loose. Done. the 12v will also re-charge my new iPhone on the trip.

Oh, the new Clearview WS works great...and I am happy that I got the slight tint to it.
On a recent day ride, I tried to get my head around the whole 'boondocking' or 'stealth-camping' mindset. I read much about this from ADVrider.com, one of my favorite sites, and elsewhere. I also plan to do some of my own camp/backpacking style of cooking on this trip. 1. I want to be more self-reliant and see how that goes. 2. I want to save some money......because....I am going on tour baby!!

While sitting on couch, looking at Google Maps and making travel plans, I had a Food Channel show on BBQ on in the background and it was about BBQ in Kansas City. Which got me thinking (a dangerous pastime)....

With slight modifications, I can hit most of the big BBQ states on my tour. I love good BBQ, so why not take a gastronomical tour of all the different styles of BBQ out there? Pulled pork, ribs, sausages, chicken, brisket (my fsv), burnt ends, tomato and vinegar based sauces....all magnificent.

Hey, and in case you're wondering, I have been swimming in pork-laden BBQ sauce my whole life living in the Chi-town area. Yes, 'The Patio' and 'Mindy's are local chain constants, but there were and are some great BBQ joints that are less well known. They just require a more inquisitive eye....and perhaps some large caliber protection.

'The Homestead' was a restaurant in Blue Island on Vincennes Ave that I grew up on. This is where I learned to savor the meat and leave a rib bone so clean as to wonder if its porky attachments ever were really attached in the first place. To me, this represented the classic, home-town version of mid-west BBQ kitsch of the 50's through the 70's. Sweet and tangy sauce, smoky but not too thick ribs, and the three-part relish tray which housed my favorite - creamy kidney bean salad with green onions - in all its flatulent glory.

When I got my drivers license though, and at great risk to life and limb, I was turned on to 'Georges' BBQ in Harvey on Sibley Blvd and have going there for 20 years. This place is the quintessential BBQ shack. Really, the whole place looks like an exercise in advanced fort building. Only on a few occasions can I remember not being offered drugs or stolen merchandize in the parking. I once brought my then girlfriend there (take out only) and told her to wait in the car and keep it running. "If you hear gunshots or see people running, just take off...",and her eyes went to saucer status when she saw I wasn't kidding. But the kicker is the the 2 inch thick bullet-proof plastic partition and turn-table separating the masses from the rib-crew. No pretentious rib-bibs to tie on here. Just an order of large ends, a ladle of sauce to drown the meat, enough greasy fries to hide said meat, two slices of Wonder bread and the lid to the styrofoam BBQ treasure chest is forced closed. Even better is this fare at two in the morning after a night of questionable libations.

So with my citizen-culinary credentials and BBQ bone-fides in order, I will grab a handful of condom-shaped packages of 'moist towelettes' and keep my nose and eyes open for the prevailing whisp of smoke from the smoke-house in the great mid-west and parts south.

May 28th

Pre-trip planning continues. Even though I have about 3 or 4 thousand miles left on the tires, I decided to have them changed. The cupping was bad irregardless of the tread depth. Back to GL1800 forums and get a consensus on what tires I should get. I ended up with Bridgestone Extenda's, front and back. M&M Cycle got them mounted with their now-expected speedy service.

Routes: Although I am perfectly comfortable on super-slabs, when possible, I shall take two-lane side roads or secondary highways. To wit, on my way to Indy to see my brother and his family, I will use Rt. 41 most of the way, just West of Indy proper. I will be passing Turkey Run and Rockville, Indiana - an area that my wife wants to visit sometime, so I will do some recon of that area as a precursor.

After Indy, I will head pretty straight East to Front Royal, VA, which is the start of a looooong run through the Shenandoah National Forest (Skyline Drive), which feeds right into the Blueridge Parkway (Blueridge Mountains). Then a short interim-ride will lead to Robbinson, NC - which is the head of the 'Tail of the Dragon' - 318 curves in 11 miles!

After that run, I will start the BBQ end of this trip in earnest.

Now questioning gear choice: Whether or not to bring my sleeping bag - which is voluminous. Nighttime weather temps for various points along the trip are between 70 - 80 degrees. Also, should I bring cooking paraphernalia or not? This is going to be a hot weather trip and my eating lessens by 15-20% - with a commensurate increase in fluids. How that looks like is coffee/tea/juice and granola/fruit for breakfast, trail mix/fruit for lunch, then a decent dinner......preferably, BBQ-related. So, I am thinking of instead of the cook set, perhaps just containers for water, dried fruit and nuts for the granola and large quantities of trail mix. that would save me some valuable room as well. I think I just talked myself into not taking the cooking set.

New launch date is June 3rd.

May 29th:

Last day of work for the Summer. Woohoo! I have been hunting for a way to have and house various items at the ready....especially my camera. To wit, the pics below show a common insulated lunch bag resting on the passenger floorboard. this one was the perfect size, color and came with a shoulder strap which attached to two points on the bags. I removed the seat, shortened the adjustable strap, wrapped it around the frame so the plastic clips poke out under the seat on the right side. It is secure but I do wish is was tighter - and less wigglier - to the bike. I also put a piece of velcro under the bag and onto the floorboard just for another point of contact. I don't imagine me ever taking this off the bike the entire trip. Nothing of value will be in per se and the bike cover will cover it at night from prying eyes.

**Test run for cooler bag conducted today. Even empty, it didn't move at highway speed. Minimal wobble when I put my feet on highway pegs. Conclusion: Acceptable.

June 2

Departure day is tomorrow morning. Bike is packed and I am just now making some notes for certain roads and routes along with restaurants, BBQ shacks and campgrounds. I am fighting the urge to plan everything to the enth degree. yeah, forced relaxation....that's the ticket. Geeze.

Here we go....................

June 3:

I couldn't ask for better weather. From 59 to 77 degrees. I made it to my brothers home outside of Indy. A mere 263 miles. Scott and the family were gracious and I appreciated spending time with them. Hope to see more of them in the future.
I got an early start - up and gone before any of my hosts arose. Time to put on some miles. I made a decision early on to stay off the super-slabs as much as possible. It takes much longer going from point A to B, but it was so worth it. Rt. 725 out of Camden, Ohio was twisty and had elevations to boot. One sign read "Unpassable for RV's trucks or cars towing trailers," and they weren't kidding. Some turns were corkscrews as there was a steep downgrade angle combined with a hairpin turns. I crawled through those turns and everything was fine. It broke up the monotony of even scenic country roads.
Oh yea, one more comment about Camden - and how my wife almost got me killed. I found and installed the MP3 wire in the left glove box which plugs into my iPod. Now I got music blaring through 4 speakers and it is pretty darn nice. My thoughtful wife downloaded two large play lists onto my iPod for me and I 'played' the one playlist named 'Fun'. I'm up for some fun.
It is some of the music we enjoy: Motown, 70's and 80's, quite the eclectic mix. So I was stopped at a stoplight in Camden and two local gentlemen with no shirts were sitting on plastic chairs, holding their requisite beers outside some auto business. Sometime when Cletus and Cooter were trying to figure out which one had the most lint in their navels, "Brickhouse" starts playing loudly. They both look at me with dumbfound expressions, mouths agape. I couldn't help "......lip synching "...34-26-34...ohhh what a winning hand!..." with the lyrics and I think I must have upset the Lint brothers. They said something to me which I couldn't hear, made some motion to get out of their chairs, but the light turned green and I was motoring.

Made it to outside of Charleston, West Virginia to a KOA. Man, $38 bucks is pretty steep for tent camping. Oh well. Okay, shower time and some light reading the sacking it. 11 hours in the saddle today. Rest is needed until I get my road legs on.

June 5th: WV Mountains 335 miles

I am not sure why I went this far south, only to have to go north again tomorrow. Camping was cold. In the WV mountains, it got down to 49 degrees - which is cold when you only have hot weather camping gear. I woke the roosters up and was out of there as the sun was coming up. I am not a fan of breaking camp, so I make it an exercise in efficiency. I try to make it quick and with no repetitive actions.
I do like sitting on the bike though waiting to pull out of the campground. Even though the bike was covered last night, just the time it took to undress the bike and stow the cover, dew coated the windshield. With no defroster, I left there straining to see over the windshield just to get out on the road.

I stopped at the local Macs in Minton, WV for coffee and map reading. Sat next to a few old-timers who meet there for coffee at the crack of dawn. It's the same in any town I guess. These guys were a hoot. Chatting about their cholesterol level, politics (they loathe Obama...yea!) and gardening. They also enjoy light-heartingly jabbing each other in their ever-shriveling nads. One of their wives pulled into the parking lot and that got them going;
"Uh-oh....you got company Jimmy.........Look out! Here comes the commander!....Hide under the table! ....and more of that stuff...all the while chuckling. I admire that kind of camaraderie. I hope I am as lucky to hang out like that with my peers when my time comes.

I did get onto 64, then 79 East just to make some time for about an hour. I got off onto 19/20 which winds through the WV mountains filled with white pines. Good choice. First, in the mountains, the dewy fog hangs like a California brush fire and snakes through and above the trees making great scenic images. This road was great! It weaved throughout the pines and through small mountain towns. No worries; no banjos. This is logging country however. Logging trucks take up their whole lane and barrel through at speed. So, no lanes clipping and be careful for scrap wood and large pieces of bark on the road. Other than that, it is a great road and not to be missed in WV.

I pulled into Macs in Greyston, WV for a Diet Coke and met 'Gary' and his son from Moto-Campers.com - which is a site I frequent. Nice guys and from around here giving me the low down. They are headed to TN for the annual MC campout for that website, but it is not on my way, so I will have to miss it. They also tell me that is has been in the 90's of late, but today, it is in the 50's to low 60's. Perfect! Great riding day!

Route 50 is another great winding mountain road from Greystone with tons of switchbacks, both ascending and descending. Approaching the appropriately named town of Mt. Storm, the temp dropped and angry clouds appeared. I am of the variety that doesn't wait to get rained on before donning the rain gear, plus the temp dropped back down in the 50's, which is reason enough for me to layer up. So I removed and stowed my non-weatherproof Garmin GPS, suit up. lower the windshield so I can see over it, and crawl my way through those same lovely and challenging switchbacks that are now trying to kill me. Oh, and the logging truck don't mind the rain.

Especially in rain while it is cool or cold out, I put on these waterproof mittens I use for snowblowing. It may seem like overkill, but my fingers are trashed, and only get and stay warm when they are knuckle to knuckle. Plus, it is good to then put on my regular - and now dry - riding gloves when the rain subsides.

So I limped into Winchester, VA - after driving through a corner or Maryland - and decided to find a motel. I don't like setting up camp in the rain. As luck would have it, I found the Royal Motel - a very old and outdated joint, but clean, a great shower, free-wifi and HBO....and only $37 bucks!! That is one dollar less than I spent on the campsite the night prior! Winning!

June 6: Two Epic Rides 300 miles

I left Winchester under the threat of rain. It rained all last night, but at least it was partly cloudy now. Today is the ride on the famous Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Forest, which leads right into the equally famous Blue Ridge Parkway. 225 miles total of winding, beautiful scenery. Can't wait. I meander to Front Royal, VA, top off the tank and look athe angry clouds hovering over the mountains. It is 59 degrees now, in the valley, so I know temps are going to drop quickly on the ascend.
I don my rain suit, mittens, stow the GPS, etc and venture to the entrance of Skyline Drive.

I cruise through the gated entrance as the cashier shack said, 'Close: Pay at Exit". Okay. At the exist though, no one was manning the booth. I stopped, looked around, waited a minute, then took off. I thought bikes pay $10, but I could be wrong.

20 miles into the winding ascending roads, the light rains starts. Which, ironically, doesn't change the style of my driving. Speed limit is 35 mph or less through the whole drive. You are never really true vertical for very long. Endless array of blind curves, switchbacks and places to pull over and sightsee. I must say, this drive is meticulously maintained. It looks like the road is less than 3 years old and is actually perfect. Anyway, you really don't want to go any fast than 4th gear anyhow. You really don't have to many stretches than call for 5th gear. Plus, there are animals everywhere.

Deer are abundant here. They graze on the side of the road, run across the road, and run along side of you. The one above had a very little fawn with her and let me ride very close to them.

Found this black bear just munching on some shrubs road side. Pretty cute guy, but I didn't stay long and watch. I am not a fan of lingering near wild critters. It could of been just a trap to snare wary bikers.

Here is a wild turkey and, it's hard to see, but three of her little drumsticks following behind her.

Halfway through Skyline Drive, it stopped raining but remained overcast. Actually, at 2500+ elevation, I was even or above some of the sporadic cloud layers. The whole drive was in the 50-60 degree range, so it was a never ending job of putting on, and taking off layers. Time for the requisite scenery pics:

After this stretch of road, I exited the wooded drive and went into Waynesboro - the midway point between the two drives. I got a chance to talk with a fellow Goldwinger and his wife who were all the way from Canada and having a wonderful time. They just seemed so happy together and sharing the experience.

I had my first North Carolina BBQ, well, sort of. The nice guy had a trailer selling that style of BBQ, so I figured I would give it a shot.

A lady in a nurse uniform in front of me said it was the best BBQ she ever had....sounding much like Paula Dean [add twang]. What I got did not bode well for North Carolina I'm afraid. It was 'minced' pork, not pulled pork and had the vinegar BBQ sauce already on it. Drats! I prefer to have the sauce on the side so I can first taste the meat. This meat was flavorless and had no hint of smoke.

Okay, back to the mountains.....although it was good to ride into town and enjoy that 72 degree weather. Back to the cooler temps and angry clouds.

The BR Parkway and Skyline Drive are very different even though they but up to one another. The roads on the Parkway are not as nice as on Skyline. Still good, just not as new. Also, the turns going up and down on the Parkway are more long sweepers than the tight turns on the Skyline. I was in 5th gear most of the way, and I didn't see as much wildlife. Skyline is more for the scenery; the BR Parkway is more for riding.....although there is plenty of each on both drives. Here's some pics:

Still cool out and rainy, so I am in a hotel. There is also a Mazda Miata Club staying here. Bunch of retirees and their convertibles riding these scenic drives. Cool.

June 7th: Welcome to North Carolina

I left the mountain region of Roanoke, Virgina to a chilly, but ridable, 53 degrees. I will miss seeing the dew hover and weave their way through the passes.
I slabbed it for a while to get to some better roads. I skirted around Raleigh, NC on my way to my first BBQ joint on my list. B's BBQ got great reviews from local sources and it's suppose to be a true 'joint', defined by the dilapidated state of the place.

I pulled into the parking lot and was excited as this place was just a ram-shackle trailer with a small garage attached to it and a huge smoker out back. Perfect. I got there at 1:15 pm and hopefully missed the lunch-time rush. Before I enter, I see a note on the door saying "We are all out of food!" That can't be right.

Alas, the kind southern gal behind the counter confirmed that, in fact, they are all out of food.

"What happened?! It's just after 1?"

"Just a normal day here. You got to get here quicker...hehe"

I just rode 1600 miles to try your BBQ and I resisted the urge to reach over the counter.

I am no food industry expert, but one doesn't have to be a Whorton Business School graduate to figure that if you run out of food consistently before 2 bells, perhaps you're not making enough food. But, perhaps that's part of the charm. The exclusivity and all. Still, I was pretty PO'd.

But I had a back-up plan. The Skylight Inn also got good reviews from reputable sources, so I punched their address into the GPS, and 20 minutes later, pulled into their parking lot hoping for better luck. It's a family run place - a little nicer than I prefer, but I know from reviews that they cook the whole hog, and do it over wood.

I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw. So, they do a nice sandwich and, IMHO, many things right. First, the don't sauce the meat. I got to taste the pork as it is, and it was moist - but I didn't get a smokey flavor. Apparently, unlike in the Chicago area, pork here is minced, not pulled apart. I got a couple of surprises when I got a couple of pieces of chewy outter skin.....hmmmm, yummy. A scoop of vinegar-based coleslaw is put on top of the meat, bun assembled and there you go.
Okay, I do love a good coleslaw - vinegar based that is - and they do it good. I have never had it atop a pork sandwich, but I have to say, I like the contrast of tangy to the savory meat. They had a couple different vinegars at the table which is the way to go. Both red vinegar-based concoctions and the one I choose had peppers in the bottle which added a nice kick - and I applied as I ate.

The only downside, again, IMHO - or should I say - the only thing I would do differently is do something about the texture. The meat is minced, the coleslaw is finely minced and the bun........all mush. Delicious mush, but textually all the same. I would either have a bigger dice on the slaw to make it crunchy or toast the bun. Something to have a texture contrast. just my 2 cents. But they must be doing something right as the place kept customers filing in.

Made camp in New Bern, NC and had to make a Walmart run as the compressor I used to fill my air mattress died on me. I bought a 12v one I hope will do the job for the whole trip.

A bit of swimming, walking around, reading, updating you fine folks, and now back to the test before the mosquitoes carry me away. The coast is 40 minutes away still and I can't wait to get to see the ocean!! Temps today ranged from 54 to 79 degrees. Perfect for riding. I think today may be the last of the cool riding days for a some time.

Here are a few pics of my camp:

A couple of MC camping notes. I use these discs for under the kickstand when parking on mushy ground. The prevent the bike from sinking into the kickstand and toppling over. A string is tied to the handlebar so when I sit on the bike and retract the kickstand, I can just yank the disc up and stow it instead of trying to balance the bike while stooping over trying to pick it up off the ground.

I also put down a tarp as ground cover for the tent...and leave a nit of room at the front door to wet or muddy shoes so they don't go inside the tent.

So, I left New Bern on Hwy 17 and crossed a series of bridges over the Neuse Tributaries which lead to the ocean. NC is USMC territory and I soon happened upon Cherry Point USMC Air Station, as a Harrier was taking off. So quick it was that I failed to get my camera out in time. I could watch fighter jets take off and land all day.

This was adjacent to the front gate, and it is hard to see, but the big sign behind the jet reads: 'PARDON OUR NOISE - THAT'S THE SOUND OF FREEDOM!' Man, that chokes me up....even typing it.

You can tell this community is behind the Corps here.

....and of course, support for the troops come in different varieties. :)

Driving past Camp Lejune, I went for the coast down 210, to Surf City, NC. A resorty-type of town with beachfront homes, but I did find some public access beaches.

So I took a dip in the ocean, dried out a bit, and went looking for the next joint on my BBQ list; Holly Ridge Smokehouse.

I had the pork platter and was surprised how different is was than my last BBQ experience in NC. This pork was pulled, not minced, and was wet. Coleslaw was a side, mayo-based, and their corn nuggets were corn bread bits deep friend. Pretty darn tasty. Overall, it was pretty good BBQ.

June 9th: Saturday 340 miles

Tough time sleeping last night. Noisy campers arriving late at their site. Ug. I broke camp at 530 hours and it was already 72 degrees. Humidity? The sugar packets at McDonalds (for my morning coffee) was a solid clump. lol. No matter, time to ride. I made the decision to stop pulling over for every shiny thing and press on.
I stayed on Route 17 for most of the way because it is an inter-coastal roadway - with only a short stint on I-65 through Savannah, GA.

Myrtle Beach, I found to be a mix of seedy, wealthy and kitchy. Kind of like Niagara Falls with money.

I passed on browsing Charleston, NC and Savannah, GA - but will make it back there someday....plus it wouldn't be the same without having the Mrs. with me for those sights. Oh, the suspension bridge in Charleston has to be one of the most beautiful bridges I have seen.....and crossed.

I made it to Brunswick, GA when the the clouds rolled in. I was enjoying the temps as they fell from 85 down to 72, knowing full well what was coming. The rain started at 1330 hrs. and didn't look like it was going to stop anytime soon, so at 1530 hrs. I found a Super 8 Motel (I get the GWRRA discount) and will enjoy a good nights' sleep at least.

***After checking the weather forecasts, I have decided to cut the trip short and make this my turn around point. The week's weather was nothing but steady rain and t-storms all the way down to the Keys and lasting the whole week. Bummer. I was tracking this system for days hoping it would dissipate or deviate, but alas, it is just doing a slow, wide circle and dumping rain.

So, adapt and overcome. Here's the new plan: Go to mass tomorrow on St. Simons Island off the coast of GA, then head to Robbinsville, NC and take on the "Tail of the Dragon." 318 turns in 11 miles! Hope it is not raining. then....

June 10th: I thought I saw an ark.

There was a puddle on my bike cover in the morning - and more water being added to that. Geeze. Even the lady at the counter of the motel commented on how much rain they have been getting. I had to cross a causeway onto the island of St. Simons to get to mass at St. Williams.

This is shrimping country and there are shrimp boats and processing plants all over. The whole area smells like a shrimp cocktail. But the island is very nice. Some gated communities but very friendly. I would hate to be here during a hurricane though.

Endless rain. I made it 352 miles to Walhalla, SC which is the start (or end) of the Moonshine Run - Rt. 28 - which leads right into the Tail of the Dragon.

Now, I will have to make the call tomorrow morning if I will proceed. These are challenging roads dry, I just don't know how they will be wet and raining. I have read that the rain washed over the severely angled and curved rode creating rivulets and washing gravel on the road. Geeze.

If I wake to any kind of weather window, I will make the run. Should be no longer than 2 hrs total. I just need the rain to hold off for that long. I'll deal with wet roads, but active rain.....I just don't know. Prudence may win out.

June 11th: Discretion is the better part of valor

I woke up at 0530 hrs to gauge the weather only to find my bike in a parking lot sized 3 inch puddle and it was still raining heavy. WTF!

Okay, so I am at the base of the Great Smokey Mountains......now what. I can double-back to the interstate and cut East/North to Asheville, NC or West/North to Atlanta. Neither of which is the direct direction of home and is going to cost me a half a day.

Looking at Google Maps, there is another route (Rt. 178) through the mountains that has a more Northern trajectory. On the map, it looks just as 'squiggly' at the Tail, but I can find no webpages dedicated to the annual death count of motorcycles on this route as exists for the Tail of the Dragon. By that standard, Route 178 wins.

It is 72 degrees when I start the bike but I know that is going to change as I ascend, so I don my mittens. I put on all my layers as well, but for some reason, my pants (and underwear) get soaking wet and I checked for holes in my rain pants, but didn't find any. Oh well.

I proceed on Rt. 11 until the junction of Rt 178...and hang a left. The flashing sign reads" TRUCKS: HAIRPIN TURNS AND NO SHOULDERS. CONSIDER AN ALTERNATE ROUTE. Fuck me....are you serious? I thought this was the lesser of two evils.

So I start. In my favor, early Monday morning traffic is virtually non-existent. Apparently, local wildlife also had the good sense of to stay indoors in this shit storm. Okay, here's the problem: The rain is heavy and the grades steep; the turns sharp. The roadside swails can't handle the deluge of rain water, which over flow and crosses the road...and brings gravel and forest debris onto the road. I'm generally okay with this because of the lack of traffic and warm to cool temps.

Which brings me to my tips on riding mountain roads like these:

1. Foremost rule is to use the correct gear. During this whole run - about 73 miles - I only used the brake 4 or 5 times. Stay in the lowest gear you can. I stayed in 3rd gear for 90% of the route. T
hat kept my RPM's up high enough that when you let go of the throttle, you rapidly de-accelerate. Just take your time. I averaged about 27 MPH through the whole run I figured. Wet, twisty roads and brakes equal you eating asphalt. Stay off the brakes; use your transmission to slow down by using the appropriate gear.

2. Keep your eyes up. Don't look at the turn your in, look at the next turn - which is already looming. It is never-ending twisties. Let what I call 'peripheral inertia' take you out of your current turn. You should already be assessing your line for the upcoming turn.

3. Slow down. 95% of motorcycle trouble can be solved by slowing down. If you're not sure, slow down more and sooner.

4. Focus. Don't look at your GPS (I don't have a weather-proof one anyhow so mine was stowed away) or sightsee. Pay attention and get into a groove. These treacherous roads are usually well marked and warn you of what type of turn is coming.

5. Wave traffic by. I only encountered 4 or 5 vehicles - mostly locals in mountain towns. Especially in the rain, I creep around 15MPH turns. There are no shoulders, so when I found a somewhat level piece of pavement and enough room, I slowed and drove to the right and waved the cars by. The downside of that is that if you do go down, unless you less a trail of bike parts like breadcrumbs, the dense woods will swallow you up or you will go over a cliff and then who is going to know?

Halfway through, I jump onto Rt. 215 which ascends quickly and into the low hanging rain clouds. Great. It is now 54 degrees and I hope that is the lowest the temp will go. My mittens weigh 2 lbs each with rain water, my boots are soaked (but my feet are dry) and my hip/crotch area is soaked. Rt. 215 crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway at the apex, then starts the descent.....which, even wet and treacherous, it still kind of fun. The rain is starting to let up a bit to just a mild down-pour/drizzly kind of thing.

I ride Rt. 215 all the way to I-40, which is the interstate that cuts the rest of the way through the Smokeys. Although I had to negotiate some truck traffic, this stretch was pretty challenging. The rain has stopped for the moment and the road is dry. It is mostly downhill with long sweepers. Not many straight runs. I was clipping along pretty good at 65-70mph. A long tunnel was also a highlight on this road.

Not wanting to take this to far West, I got off on Rt. 32, which quickly turns into Rt. 25E - which takes me North quite a ways.

It's about this time on trips that I get the scent of home and put up with super-slabs. I hop on I-75 which shoots me through Lexington, KY and leaves me presently just shy of Cincinnati, OH. Weather and traffic depending, I will hit I-74 West which will bring into Champaign, Il...and then its just two hours north on I-55 home.

That's the plan.....

June 12th: Home

Left Cincinnati, OH at 0700 hrs and arrived home at 1330 hrs. 400 miles. A long day in the saddle, but listening to the iPod, it went pretty quickly. In retrospect, I thought about continuing my trip towards Texas since rain prevented me continuing through Florida. As it turned out, it would have rained there as well during the time frame.

So, 9 days on the road. The last 4 days were rained filled - not so much fun, although, even wet, riding in the mountains is fun stuff.

As always, I was vigilant about my numbers, so here they are:

Total Miles: 3363

Total Gas: 76.19 gals

Total Gas Cost: $262.47

Total Lodging: $337.00

Total Food: $120.17

Average MPG: 44.13

Average Daily Miles: 373.66

Total Expenditures: $719.47

Recall, one goal was to spend less than $100 a day. Daily cost turned out to be $79.94.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Jeff,

    Glad you tested the link to blog. I couldn't find ya. Great pictures so far.

    Don't expect great BBQ, collard greens and such yet. You'll find that cuisine to get better and more authentic as you get closer to Asheville, you need to come more south.

    You have to try Spudnuts Donut Shop. They're the best made with potato flour and totally delicious.

    Okay just a quick pray and I'm off:

    "May today be all that you need it to be.
    May the peace of God and the freshness
    of the Holy Spirit rest in your thoughts,
    rule in your dreams and conquer all your fears.

    May God manifest himself today in ways that
    you have never experienced.

    May your joys be fulfilled, your dreams
    become closer and your prayers be answered.

    I pray that your faith enters a new height,
    that your territory is enlarged and that
    you make one step closer to your destiny.

    I pray for you, peace, health, happiness and
    a special protection while traveling on your bike.


    I'll keep watching your posts and your journey. Hope to get to see you.

    Safe travels.

    Deb (your cousin)

  2. I love how you added "your cousin" as if I could forget you! Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. headed down to the Keys so if I am close to you or your family, let's have lunch!