Day 3 – 8/1/09

I got started this morning around 9:00.  The sun was shining and it looked looked like a good day for a ride.   However, the national weather report showed a band of storms from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf of Mexico so I knew that I was going to hit rain sometime during the day.

About 50 miles West of Memphis, the rain started.  I stopped, got gas, and put the rain gear on again.  I hit a downpour about 2 miles down the road and after about 25 miles in the rain, I had to pull off because I really couldn’t see where I was going.  After eating lunch, the rain had slowed down enough to get back on to the road.  It finally cleared up as got to Little Rock.

Sometimes it amazes me just how abrupt changes in geography can be.  As I crossed the Mississippi River from Tennessee into Arkansas, the land changed from hilly to totally flat.  Arkansas seems to be flatter than Midwest states such as Iowa and Nebraska.  Western Arkansas has hills and mountains but the eastern part was just flat farmland.

One odd thing about today was the number of vehicles with tire and wheel problems.  I saw 4 or 5 cars with flat tires and 2 cars where one of the front wheels was gone and the car was resting on the brake rotor.  Then, late in the afternoon I saw a tractor trailer on the side of the road with a torn up front fender and no front tire.  I’ve travelled a lot of interstate highways and have never seen this many tire problems in a single day.

The last couple of hours were a nice easy ride.    With the sun behind the clouds, it was a little cool but still comfortable riding with a sweatshirt.  Armadillos seem to make up the majority of road-kill here.  I stopped at a Motel 6 about 20 miles into Oklahoma in a town called Sallisaw.

  • States: TN, AR, OK
  • Miles Travelled Today: 614
  • Total Miles: 1,683
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Day 2 – 7/31/09

Blue Ridge Parkway
I got started around 8 am under cloudy skies.  I rode to Waynesboro, VA and started down the Blue Ridge Parkway.   The road is a simple 2 lane road that winds along the top of the mountains.  The road is in good condition and the speed limit is 45 mph.   There aren’t any tough hairpin turns or ridiculously steep grades making it a nice comfortable ride at 40-45 mph.

The scenery on this road is fabulous.  There are green mountains and valleys everywhere you look.  While the clouds often limited what could be seen, they also added to the beauty of the landscape.   There are plenty of places where you can pull off the road to enjoy the view and take pictures.A view from the Blue Ridge Parkway

About 20 miles from the beginning of the Parkway, I began seeing some raindrops on the windshield and riders coming from the other direction had rain gear on.  I pulled over and put mine on before I got too wet.  It didn’t rain very hard, and thankfully, it was in the mid 70’s so it wasn’t cold or uncomfortable riding.  There were a few sections of the road where clouds almost completely obscured the road making it hard to see more than 30 feet in front of you.

I went about 125 miles on the Parkway before exiting near Roanoke, VA at around  2:00.  I was hungry and wanted to start heading towards Tennessee.  I got back on to I-81 and headed for Knoxville.

Thankfully, I still had my rain gear on because I rode through about 2 hours of light to moderate rain.  It was kind of frustrating because a few miles to my right I could see blue skies but to the left was rain.  As luck would have it, the edge of the rain followed the road for about 100 miles.  Every time it looked like I was headed for clear skies, the road would turn back into the rain.

The rain subsided as I neared Bristol TN at around 4:30.  I stopped for gas, took my rain gear off, and headed back out.  I had to stop one more time to put it back on because there was a ominous looking cloud up ahead.  As it turns out, that cloud didn’t produce any rain but later on, I rode through a stretch of highway that was quite wet.  While it didn’t actually rain on me, the road spray from cars and trucks made it seem like it was raining.

I stopped for gas again just past Knoxville.  Convinced that it wasn’t going to rain again, I once again took the rain gear off.  The remainder of the ride was actually quite pleasant with no more rain or wet roads.

I finished up in Cookville TN about 75 miles east of Nashville.  I stopped at a Super 8 motel and checked in only to find out my credit card was declined.  Since this happened last year, I knew what the problem was so I paid for the room with another card.  What happens is that the credit card company sees the card being used for multiple gas purchases across a number of states and it flags it for fraud.  Since this happened last year, I spoke with them Thursday morning before I left and told them that I was going to be travelling but apparently, that didn’t prevent the computer from automatically de-activating the card.  I called them and explained what was going on and they assured me that it won’t happen again.  We’ll see …

  • States: VA, TN
  • Miles Travelled Today: 550
  • Total Miles: 1,069

Day 1 – 7/30/09

I left around 9:00 am this morning.  By the time I filled-up with gas and a bought new toothbrush, it was around 9:30.

I took I-88 to Binghamton and then turned south on I-81 through Pennsylvania.   About 2:00 in the afternoon just past Scranton, road construction slowed traffic down to about 1 mph for about 1/2 mile and then finally stopped traffic completely.   I shut the bike off and put the kickstand down and took my jacket off.  After a few minutes, I went back and started talking to a guy in the truck behind me.  He’s originally from Oswego NY but lives in Tennessee now.  After being stopped for about 10 minutes, we moved about 100 yards and stopped again.  This went on for about 45 minutes  until traffic finally started moving at about 10mph.  All-in-all, it took about an hour to go 3 miles.

I had to stop on I-81 again about 30 miles past Wilkes-Barre.  I’m not quite sure why we stopped because there wasn’t any road construction.  We just stopped for about 10 minutes and then started going again.  Thankfully, this was the last time I had to stop on the interstate.

It only took about 20 minutes to get through Maryland and into W. Virginia.  The State Police in WV were out in force today.  I saw 4 or 5 cars pulled over, presumably for speeding, in a 30-40 mile stretch of road.

I had a bit of a scare after my last gas stop.  After filling-up, I headed back out onto I-81.  When I hit the switch on the GPS to power it up, it didn’t do anything.  I pluged the charger into it and still nothing.  Now I’m worried.  Navigation isn’t one of my strong points so I really count on having the GPS to help me figure out where I am and how to get wherever it is that I’m going.

I got to Harrisonburg VA at around 8:00pm and found a Motel6.  The first thing I did was check the GPS and I found that it has a reset button on the back which I promptly pressed.  It worked – the GPS started up and seems to be fine.

Today’s weather was perfect for riding.  There were plenty of clouds to keep the sun under control.  I drove through a few sprinkles but other than that, no rain.

I’ll be heading out towards the Blue Ridge Parkway in the morning.

Trip Stats:

  • States: NY, PA, MD, WV, VA
  • Miles Travelled Today: 519
  • Total Miles: 519

2009 Ride

In a couple of days, I’ll be heading out across the country on my 2006 Electra Glide for a nice 2+ week ride.

This year, I plan to start the trip by heading south so that I can ride through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.  Once I make it through these states, I’ll have been to all 50 states.   As was the case last year, I don’t have an exact route planned but instead, will just take it day by day and see where the road (and the weather) takes me.

The header image on this page is from last year’s ride as I entered Yellowstone National Park.

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