Recently I made a trip to NC for the XL-List East Coast Rally. This is a ride report for the trip to the rally and home from the rally. This is the same report that was posted on the XL-list this morning and I just published it with my blogs. The blog has the pictures also. The address of the blog is:
I wanted to take a couple days getting to NC and then take a couple days getting home. Last month when I came home from the Cape Fear 1000 that ended in Wilmington, NC, I rode straight home to KC. It was over 1200 miles and it just wasn’t any fun. So since time is something I have a lot of I decided to take my time coming and going this trip.
I spent a couple days checking maps and the GPS software looking for towns named after animals. The HOG group is having the Road Kill Safari challenge this year and this would be a good opportunity to pick up some kills. Of course I was planning on getting some ABC points along the way too. The route going to NC would swing low and then coming home I would swing high, picking up as many states as I could along the way. I already had the states of MO, IL, KY, TN SC and NC from the Cape Fear trip. I would need to swing lower than TN on the way out and higher than KY on the way home. With those basics in mind of a route I started looking for animal names in towns. So the rules are listed here: http://new.roadkillsafari.com/agodev...b.asp?tab=news
. My HOG group changed them slightly, we use small plastic animals instead of a rally flag, but the rules have the same spirit if not the same wording for most of the rules. For the ABCs I made a list of the letters of the alphabet, if I already had a city with that letter I crossed the letter out with a / if I had a county with that letter I crossed it out with a . When the letter was done for both the city and the county I just scribbled it out. The list was then placed in the clear window on my tank bag. As I passed town or county signs in my travels I could quickly see if I needed to stop for the letter.
Finding animal towns was not hard. It soon became clear that they were all over. I even found one that was going to be really close to the route the group was planning on riding on Saturday of the Rally. I posted a message that I wanted to go to Troutdale, VA during the ride so I might be late getting to the lunch break in Demacus.
Having enough time to get to all the towns would be the issue, so I picked the ones that were closest together or closer to the route I wanted to go. The night before I left I loaded up the GPS with the waypoints and packed Effie so I only had to get up, get dressed and get on the bike in the morning. Its 4-5 hours from KC to St Louis. I didn’t want to go through KC during rush hour, but I didn’t want a late start either, I had places to go, so I hoped to be on the road outside KC before rush hour started.
Thursday May 10
Usually the night before a much anticipated trip I can’t sleep, this was one of those trips. Finally at 4:30 AM I decided screw it I’m heading out. At 5:30AM I am at Oak Grove, MO outside KC and on my way to St. Louis. It was supposed to rain between KC and St. Louis so I started with my rain gear on. As the sun rose, I took of the rain coat. I felt sprinkles a couple times but nothing really to worry about. I picked up all kinds of ABC counties on the way to St Louis, but for the RKS Hawk Point, MO was the first goal. A few miles north of I-70 it was an easy find. My next RKS would be in the southeast tip of IL. But first a stop at Chester IL, the city park on the Mississippi. Home of Popeye I took my annual picture of Effie with Popeye and used the stop to remove the rain pants. Its still kind of cool, but great riding weather. Heading south on Hwy 149 or Hwy 3 I ran through Crain, so I stopped and took a picture. For several hundred miles I tried to remember if the bird is spelled Crain or Crane, but just encase I took the picture. My goal was to reach Creal Springs, IL. I had Black Hawk as my next city, but I removed it as you can only use an animal once, so since I did find Hawk Point there was no need to find Black Hawk. In my travels through this part of the country I ran through a Herrin, IL, so I stopped to take a picture there too. Later I learned it is spelled Heron. I ended up on I-24 for the ride south through KY & TN to the AL state line. I stopped in Paducah, KY for gas and noticed that the sky was a little dark, but all day all I had been hitting was sprinkles and I didn’t want to ‘suit’ back up for sprinkles so I decided I would just get wet if I needed to and just ride through whatever was coming my way. About 5 miles out of Paducah, the sky just releases a downpour. Visibility is near zero and if it weren’t for taillights seeing cars would have been a real issue. More cars are pulled over on the shoulder than are moving on the interstate. I start to feel hail hitting me. I go by 3 overpasses before I find one with room for Effie to pull in. I dismount and move away from the road. I am soon joined by another rider. We talk for a few minutes. I am soaked to the skin, there is no need to put on my rain pants now, although I put on the rain coat and my rain off gloves with some glove liners, the leather gloves are put in a baggie in my saddlebag. When the rain lightens up and cars are moving again, we both get back on the bikes and leave the dry overpass.
The relief was short lived as it soon started downpouring again so I headed for the next overpass. As I am dismounting and getting away from the road, again, another motorcycle pulls in. He hollers that he is in better shape than I am, then he corrects himself. He has a windshield, but concedes that the full face helmet I have is better at keeping the rain off my head then the dew rag/windshield combo he is relying on. He was heading back to a military base about 12 miles down the road. When the rain lightened up we took off. Again it was short lived and I ended up parking under an overpass one more time. The delays have cost me about 3 hours in travel time. My boots are squishing with my steps but it is only my fault. The 3rd overpass stop was my last one. Riding down I-24 the rain stopped before I got to Nashville. Shorty after Nashville I was dried out, except for my socks. Funny that is one of my top 10 tips for travelers. You comfort level is always higher if you can keep your socks dry, both the ones on your feet and the ones you have packed.
As I am heading through Nashville, I notice a sign for the Nashville Zoo. That would be kill for the RKS as zoos from up to 5 states count. So I take the exit and hunt down the zoo.
In 2005 I took this same route on the way to the national HOG Rally in Chattanooga, TN. I knew there would be some cheap hotels on the interstate close to the AL state line. Sure enough the billboards start showing up. Clustered at exists I decided to pull over at an exit that advertises for 3 cheap rates. I used my usual technique of then going behind the ones that were advertised to see if there were even cheaper motels a little further. I find a motel that is $5 cheaper, it was $32 all together with taxes and fees. At some point I realize this is the same motel I stayed at 2 years ago before when I headed to Club HOG rally.
After checking in I headed to Arbys for a Ruben Sandwich and fries, this is the first food I have had all day. Its 9:30 PM and I am hungry. I am chilled so when I get to my room I turn on the heat and plop my boots up on the register so the insides will be dry in the morning.
The bike is parked on the sidewalk right outside my window. Ready for more rain, it doesn’t look good outside.
I watched some of the weather channel for the area, promising some rain in the afternoon but the next morning should be clear, but NC looks to get showers in the afternoon. I decided that again I will start with my rain gear on in the morning. Figuring I will be in them all day I decide to wear my sweatpants too. Not great for safety, but they are much more comfortable to wear under the rainpants than my bluejeans. I also called home and let them know where I was and a basic route I was planning on following tomorrow.
Friday 11 May
Wake up call at 6AM, I am on the road by 6:30. As I go through South Pittsburg I noticed a Historical marker on the main street of town. Being so early on a Saturday, no one is around so I pulled over and took a look. Announcing that this is the birthplace of Jobyna Lancaster Ralston-Arlen, the sign informed me she was a silent movie actress who played in more that 90 movies, some of them being Marx Brothers films. She died in 1967. I love these historical markers. She was born the same year as my grandfather 1899. The AL border is on the south end of town. 2 years ago the sign was pretty sad, this year it is even more sad. Reflective letters are broken and missing in the sign and this year I find that one of the 2 posts that hold it up is broken off, so almost defiantly this sad sign stands its position announcing the state line. It will probably outlast the roach.
My next stop is a RKS Ducktown, TN which is really close to the GA state line. I catch both of those and find a P & F county sign in the process. Next is Turtletown,TN. I stopped at the post office there. Across the street from the post office is a closed school, that is for sale, should anyone be in the market for a used school building.
Now Hwy 68 that I have been traveling on is pretty fun, but coming out of Turtletown and heading north, it is a real hoot. A sport biker is behind me for awhile until he has a chance to fly by. Later I see him coming back the same road. I think this is one of those roads that is just ridden for fun by bikers. As I am going along I see a stagecoach. So I whip into the parking lot and coax another tourist to take my picture with the stage. I return the favor for him and his family. This is a really cool stage. It doesn’t look like one of the cheap replicas that are found sitting around, this is one detailed stagecoach. It was a cool picture to get taken.
The area is full of artists and galleries. A lot of woodcarvers and craftsmen are in the area. I passed a woodcarving establishment and turned around to go look at his stuff. For the RKS you can also use 5 statues as long as the statues are at least 5 times the size of the original animal its based on or it is 3 times the size of your motorcycle. I found a 3’ dragonfly that was pretty funny. So I got my little plastic tiger out (Tina the tiger) and placed it on the dragonflys head. It was tricky getting the dragonfly, the tiger and Effie in the picture.
Next stop was Pigeon Forge, TN. I love Gatlinburg, TN. A few years ago I stayed there as I was doing some work in GA. I had hoped that I could make it to Gatlinburg to spend the previous night, but that didn’t work out. As I am hunting up the welcome center in Pigeon Forge I see a building that is turned upside down. Its supposed to be upside down but it really makes an interesting thing to see. The name on the building is Wonder Works, I don’t know what it is a café or tourist trap. A quick stop at the Welcome Center for a picture and then off we go for Bird Crossing, TN. I don’t find Bird Crossing, sometimes a town is long gone but it keeps appearing on maps and in GPS software. Yuma KS is another example of this, it died in the 1930s but still appears on maps. If you go and hunt it up its just a small blue informational sign marking where the town used to exist and informing you that it died in the 1930’s. I was going to use it last year for my ABC’s then found it didn’t exist anymore. Anyway Bird Crossing I feel is in this same category. Traveling on hwy 411 though I find a sign for Cocke county, with a big rooster painted on it. Score another kill for my RKS. Parottsville, TN is my next destination. It has some great city limit signs then I take off for NC, but on the way I find myself going through Fish Springs, TN. I love it when they just appear like this. The last RKS I have planned is Roan Mountain. Then it is on to Rider’s Roost where the rally is being held.
The GPS says that I should get to Riders Roost about 5:45PM. Running later than I want to, I decide to skip Roan Mountain. When the GPS recalculates the route it takes me a different way and has an arrival time of 6:25PM. I’m thinking ‘Are you kidding me???’ Why would I want to take 45 minutes longer to get there? I didn’t mention it before but I have both my GPS’s mounted and running during the last 2 trips to NC. Someone had written about the advantages of having 2 mounted and it made sense so since I had a second one that I normally carried in the saddlebag anyway I decided to go ahead and mount it. I had a Quest which I bought after being lost in Milwaukee, WI my first trip there. That was 2005. Last year the Quest 2 became pretty cheap. Using all the same cradles and accessories, the Quest 2 was preloaded with all the maps for the US, Canada and Mexico. My intention was to sell the Quest to help pay for the Quest 2, but the performance of the Quest 2 was so bad I never considered selling the Quest again. The Quest is my primary unit and the Quest 2 is the backup. Even after loading all the updates into the Quest 2 the Quest operates faster, it recalculates routes faster, it refreshes the screen faster, its performance has always been superior. Today however the Quest 2 recalculates the route to Rider’s Roost that is quicker so I follow it. It was about 6:30 when I pull into Rider’s Roost. It was somewhere around 1100 miles from KC to the Roost. With in the hour of me taking off my rain pants it started raining. It had not rained on me all day. Now the rally is a whole separate story, so we will skip to the ride home.
Sunday 13 May
I wanted to get pictures of all the rally participants along with their rides, so I was up bright and early getting my shower so I would be ready to get my pictures before anyone left. After I was ready I went ahead an packed up Effie and moved her up to the game room, she was ready to go. That was neat because it gave me a chance to talk with everyone that came kind of one on one.
It was 10:30AM by the time I had all my pictures, taken that last bathroom break and said my goodbyes. I wasn’t the first to leave. My route home would take me north to VA, then WV, OH, IN, IL, MO and home. The majority of the route home will be on I-64. My first stop was the VA state line, then WV state line. Marmet was my first RKS on the way home, next was Leach Station, OH which doesn’t exist anymore, or rather if it does it is referring to a refinery that is located on that spot. Indiana was the last state for the day as I found a motel about 20 miles short of the turn off for Birdseye, IN.
Before I left for the rally I had a kink in my right knee. You ever had a joint that needs to be popped back in place, but it just won’t pop? That was my knee. When riding on the bike it didn’t hurt, it performed well. I could maneuver the bike using it to back up or whatever. However as the trip progressed it became more difficult to put weight on the leg when I got off the bike. It still wouldn’t pop, it grind right to the point where it was on the verge of popping but it just wouldn’t pop. When I checked into the motel Sunday night, she gave me the handicap room, I didn’t know that until I saw the shower, but I didn’t complain it put me by the door on the first floor.
Monday 14 May
Traveling a little over 500 miles yesterday left about the same for today. I am up early and heading to Birdseye. I don’t know if Birdseye will count, because it does not exactly follow the rules of the hunt. The animal name can not be imbedded in the town name, so for example Moscow would not work for cow. But I decided I wanted to get the kill and see if it worked later. The little highway heading to it was great, twisty and shady it was a great ride. At the IN, IL border I run across Skeeter Mountain, so I stop to take a picture at the sign.
At some exit in IN I pull off to get gas. There is a landscaping company there that has these huge statues, so I pull in. Getting 2 more pics one of a giraffe and one with a herd of elephants, 2 being pink in color.
The trip was 5 days, 2439 miles long, 200 of that was a great ride that the group made on the Saturday of the rally. I accumulated 23 ABC points and 13 RKS points, not counting 3 that were questionable. My knee started popping Tuesday night. I am still having some problems, but elevating it with ice in the evening has helped it a lot. I skipped a planned trip to the TX HOG rally this weekend because I didn’t want it to get any worse.
2005 883 Low - Effie