June 13 2015 finds me in the little town of Fernley Nevada which is located just east of Reno. I arrived here about 2 pm and obtained a 3 bed motel room and am now waiting for Mik and Steve to show up from the bay area.
My ride started on Monday and it has so far been great with many many good twisty roads and a slew of interesting people along the way. The temperature was very hot all through Washington and Oregon with the days high between 34 and 38 degrees so I was always looking for a shady spot to stop and drink some water and enjoy the scenery.
I went south from Republic WA. and travelled on a neat (free) ferry across the Roosevelt Lake reservoir which is formed by one of the many dams on the Columbia River. The country side after the lake crossing was mainly all hay farms, and it is beyond me how they cut this hay as the slopes on some of the fields have to be at least 35 degrees. The towns around here are all spaced out about 30 miles apart and they service the farming industry only. Most don’t even have a motel, regular gas station or school of any kind, so one has to plan your gas and motel stops quite carefully.
After staying one night in Wilbur WA. I travelled through this county until I arrived and La Grange Oregon where I spent 3 days touring some very interesting roads through the high forest lands of north eastern Oregon. If this would have been BC all these roads would have been gravel logging roads but they were all paved with smooth no pot-hole pavement. Lots of corners I elevations( 6300 feet highest) and absolutely no one else on them. Travelled on one road that the local bikers call the Oregon mini dragon for it has 188 corners in about 20 miles, straight up the mountain and then straight down the other side. The area has towns every 40 to 50 miles with very old fashioned gas stations and usually operated by some old guy or gal that will pump your gas and talk your ear off. There was a couple gas stops that I couldn’t leave for over an hour, just enjoying hearing all the worlds news according to these lonely back woods nice people.
After leaving Oregon and entering California on why 395 it was and enjoyable ride to Reno but one I have done a number of times before. I have taken some videos and still pictures and will enter them later as my buddies just rode up
Although the main reason for this trip was over, there was still a few things I wanted to see before this great trip would be called finished. One of them was to see some of the country and deserted towns in the coal mining areas of West Virginia. After leaving the fogy, misty, Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia I dropped down in elevation to some fairly good back roads heading north into the West Virginian town of Princeton. Here I enquired at the visitor centre for directions to the historic coal mining towns, only to find the lady in charge to be an unhappy person who explained how poor West Virginia is. Her visible unhappiness is what was to become my experience with meeting other people in this state, as they all seemed to be quite unhappy with their given lot in life. She explained how the coal barons and lumber barons of past generations had raped the land and then left leaving the people and the state to cope with the environmental and social damages. She reluctantly gave me directions to a highway that would travel through old semi deserted coal mining towns, with a comment that these towns were not pretty and there was other attractions tourist should see (read spend money).
Well, she was partially right as the majority of these towns that I travelled through were very depressing and certainly not scenic. I again curtailed my desire to take some images home with me, as it was truly troubling to see where so many hard working people had given up on their dreams and moved away, or simply, just given up. The local landscape, of what I saw, seems to have mostly cured itself as I saw no great scars as I travelled through. I cannot say the same for the man made structures or the perceived outlook of the remaining residence.
The following is a few pictures I did take to kindly remind me of the poor state of West Virginia.
Upon leaving a disappointing experience in West Virginia I reentered Kentucky and headed for Louisville to obtain a new set of tires at the BMW dealership. To say I was shocked to find that the BMW dealership was also a Harley dealer is a gross understatement. The dealership was quite large and seemed fairly well organized, but as you can well imagine leaning more to the harley line then to the manufacturer of the greatest motorcycle in the world. Upon entering the service department, and saying I was traveling through and needing a set of tires, I was gruffly told by the tattooed fellow behind the counter that I would need to come back in a couple of weeks, as they were busy. An assistant manager overheard this and asked if he could help, which he did with a little more enthusiasm then his harley work mate behind the counter. He found the tires I needed and said he could start work fairly quickly, and seeing the next dealer was some hundreds of miles away I agreed. Bad choice. Not only did I wait wait over five and one half hours, I was charged almost double of what I was charged only a few weeks earlier in Phoenix for exactly the same service. My experience here makes me believe that joining two totally different motorcycle types together in one dealership is a mistake. I have never in all my motorcycle travels, been subjected to this kind of overcharging and lack of understanding for the touring motorcyclist.
Having a somewhat sour taste in my mouth for the latest experience in Kentucky I found Interstate 64 and after crossing the Ohio River rode east into Indiana and then Illinois. I spent the rest of the day and the following day reminiscing of the journey so far, as I sped down the interstate with the local farms and small communities as a backdrop.
The second item that was on my list of places to see is was the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. This is located just north of St Louis Missouri and I arrived there after a very hot and humid ride with the normal thunder clouds brewing up from the west. There is a little town just north of St. Louis on the Illinois side of the Mississippi called Hartford, that built a 150 foot tower complete with elevator to view the two rivers meeting. This area went down in the history books as the starting place for the cross country trek of Lewis and Clark to there destination at Astoria, located at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. The view from the top was great and they had a fair display of artifacts and a video at the visitors centre at the base of the tower,(and it was air-conditioned) where I and 3 BMW guys from the bay area, were given a 20 minute talk on the Lewis and Clark departure area. I was also told that back down the road a bit there was a recreation of their fort, so after wishing these BMW guys safe travels I journeyed down to see the fort. They had a very good cut-away of their river boats they used to travel upstream on the Missouri River. All in all a very good stop and another location I can cross off my must see places.
I left Hartford at about 3 pm figuring I could ride easily up to Hannibal Missouri for my motel that evening. Along the way I actually got to ride on the famed Mississippi River road that had been my goal in Mississippi much earlier on my journey. It was very enjoyable ride even if the road wasn’t real twisty, it is a very scenic road with the river in full view for most of the way and not too much traffic. I was quite pleased to get to see a Mississippi river boat going up the river pushing a very large set of barges. I was told that these barges can be over 1200 feet long and seeing that the river has many islands and channels, the captain of these boats must be quite skilled.
That night after again just beating the storm clouds to Hannibal I sat along side the river and thought of what it must have been like here in the days of Mark Twain, for this was his boy-hood home and the location was the setting for his Tom Sawyer novel and others. The towns motif as would be expected was all about Mark Twain, and even if was a bit over done it was still a place I will remember fondly.
Leaving Hannibal I spent a very pleasant day riding across northern Missouri on local state highways with a brief ride through south western Ohio before crossing over the Missouri River into Nebraska. Even if the roads were not going to be entered into the “must ride roads of North America” they were quite enjoyable and it was nice to be in an area that was not so economically depressed. The weather was also changing, as the next couple days would prove, to that of a cooler and little less humid air. When entering into Nebraska I even dug out my riding coat from my duffle bay were it had been stored for many days.
Nebraska City located in the south east corner of the state was to be my stay for the night and while watching the weather on Tv I was certainly glad I wasn’t about a 50 miles north in Omaha. They had a tornado touch down and then a great down pour of baseball sized hail with as can be imagined, caused immense damage to cars, houses and other structures. In one car dealership alone, they figured more then 1.5 million dollars worth of damage just to the cars.
The next day dawned cloudy and wet and so after talking with my other motel motorcyclist I dug out my rain gear and departed for what I had thought would be another boring trip across a plains state. My route was to be from the S.E to the N.W. of the state along mostly backroads and it proved to be very enjoyable. When the storm clouds disappeared and the sun came out, although it was cool, the route followed miles of corn crops over a rolling hilly country-side. Later I was to climb to an elevation of about 2,000 feet and encounter more trains then I have ever saw in my life. The trains that were heading east were all filled with coal from very large open pit mines mainly from Wyoming and South Dakota. There was so many of them that they were parked nose to tail waiting for the track to open up from west heading empty trains. The next time I need to cross the USA plains I will definitely choose Nebraska over Oklahoma or Kansas, for the ride was very enjoyable and again easy on the eyes.
My first day of riding through Wyoming was not overly eventful or even that enjoyable has I encountered strong winds and light rain near Gillette and a stint of Interstate 90 to Buffalo. But I had arrived back in the west with all its mountainous glory. Left Buffalo on a cold early morning and headed to what I thought would be a great road through the Big Horn Mountains on highway 16. The Powder River Pass is just shy of 10,000 feet and when I crossed it the temperature was down to 0 C. with fresh snow along side the road. The road, even if I had to be watchful for ice, was great and I will need to do this road again but a little later in the year. My plan also was do travel over the famed Bear Tooth Pass just to the NE of Yellowstone Park but having travelled it before I now realized that snow most likely would be an issue, so again it tells me I need another trip this year, maybe in August.
At this time I decided that my route should take me up into Saskatchewan to visit my aunt and uncle in North Battleford, so I headed due north through Montana and entered back into Canada at a little town called Climax. After travelling for close to 17,000 kms in the US and getting quite used to their speed limits and relatively good roads I was ashamed when I rode into Saskatchewan and found the road so bad I could hardly do 100 K.P.H., especially after doing 150 to 160 riding up to the border crossing on local state roads.
The 2 days spent visiting my relatives in North Battleford, where I experienced typical Canadian June changing weather, was very enjoyable and was great to visit with the last of my relatives from the previous generation.
As an old horse will do when he is heading back to the barn after a ride I did not waste any time getting home and travelled the 1140 ams home in about 12 hours. After starting out with wind and an overcast sky, heavy downpour of rain in Edmonton, the weather changed to warm and sunny once entering B.C., one thinks there is a meaning in this, which is British Columbia is Still the Best Place on the Continent.
This ride which will probably prove to be my last long distance ride (more then 15,000 kms.) but was also one of my most enjoyable. I was able to travel many old favourite roads and many now, new favourites. The time spent with my good riding friends from California was exceptional and will not be soon forgotten.
The time spent in the south, learning about the american civil war and what has transpired since then was both very educational and also quite depressing. To actually meet people who are still after 150 years, reliving that time and disparaging about what happened and what could have been, one wonders how united theses states actually are. The facts of this war are not always remembered, and myths or just plain exaggeration are what colours many people’s thoughts on what happen. I, as a book lover had to buy a couple books that told the story of the everyday people and their lives during and after this time of conflict between the states, and from between the covers of these books I gained a new understanding of the horrors of what a civil war brings to any country now or in the past.
On this trip, as with others I have taken in the past, the stark difference in our country and the USA is always present. From their liberal gun laws to the visible canyon of the rich and poor, you can see this is the land of the free, where we believe in Peace, Order, and Good Governance. Having said that I have always had a great time in the USA and find the people more open, friendly, and helpful to a stranger then most of our more conservative Canadians.
I as a motorcyclist also enjoy their many, many great roads that they build right over the top of the mountains, compared to ours in the valleys.
Here is a few facts of my journey.
Travelled 19,136 kilometres over 42 days. Low of 233 kms. to a high of 1140 but most days were around 500 kms. 2 days of non riding ( 1 rain day & 1 visiting day )
The weather was for the most part warm and sunny, but to enjoy those times a few days of cold, rain, and wind were needed.
2 full sets of tires and 2 oil changes. The kill switch repair in Asheville was the only unforeseen issue
Motel cost were from as little as $35.00 (Marysville Tenn.) to a high of $138.00 (2nd time at Asheville N. Carolina)
Cost for mid range fuel averaged $0.85 per litre Canadian money and I averaged 56 mpg. (Canadian Gallons)
Restaurant food was on average a good 20% lower then what you would expect to pay in Canada with helpings considerably larger.
I hope you have enjoyed this recollection of my journey, and overlooked some of my tardiness in the postings. I hope to undertake another good trip this summer into the northern part of our province and will report on what I find.
We left Birmingham and headed to Chattanooga Tennessee where we would visit the last civil war site of this trip. After obtaining a motel we found our way up to Look Out Mountain, which as you can imagine over looks Chattanooga and the Tennessee River. What a great view and while on the top we looked around the gun placements that the Confederates used to repel the Union soldiers down below. We also wanted to visit Ruby Falls which is a 100 foot+ water fall buried deep in a cavern in the mountain. As it was Memorial Day weekend and very warm, the line ups to get inside the cool cavern seemed never ending. They even had a concession wagon to provide refreshments for the people in line. We all agreed it was not for us, and on we rode.
The next day we visited Chickamauga National Monument where we toured the grounds and museum with a well done Ken Burns video. Mik and Steve were both quite taken with this site as it seemed to portraih a real sense of what it was like. Here is again just a few pictures of the site.
As I said above this is but a few of the pictures and video of the park. It is another very large area and it also is well used. Cyclist, hikers, bird watchers, and history buffs all use this well maintained and presented vision of American History
As I said before I am not that interested in battle strategy but I very much enjoyed this civil war journey that we took as it gave me a better prospective of what it must have been like to fight a civil war with your own country men. While no wars are pleasant as we all know, most civil wars are very brutal and no one really wins. This war was one of them and there are still people, mainly in the south, that daily think of what could have been, if they had won.
We mounted our trusty modern steeds and headed north to Kentucky with visions of Bourbon glasses dancing in our heads.
As Steve and Mik drink Bourbon one of the plans was to visit a distillery and have a tour. I was told Four Roses is one of the best and we proceeded to just south west of Lexington Kentucky to Lawrenceburg. The tour was very interesting and I learned a lot about Bourbon. First it has to be made in the USA, it has to be made of at least 51% corn, and the barrels of white oak that are used to age the drink can never be used for bourbon again. I think that there most be a lot of 4 Roses Bourbon drinkers here as you can just show up and take the tour 7 days a week, and when we were there the place was very busy and they had two tours going at the same time. Later in the sampling room Steve enjoyed, but Mik and myself thought probably not a good idea. That night in the hotel we sampled two bottles bought at the distillery, and yes it was very good.
We left 4 Roses and that was the last of the planned stops and all that was left was the Dragon and other good roads in the Appalachian Mountains, or so we thought.
We had been by time necessity, travelling mainly on Interstates, unable to cover the great distance that we had to any other way. Steve was looking at a map on his phone and suggested this state road called 169. It travelled in a south east direction across Kentucky and through beautiful country estates and ordinary rural properties. It seemed that all properties both rich and otherwise had HUGE lawns all mowed and not a visible weed in them. When I say huge I mean huge, regular looking houses would have an acre or two and richer places would have 4 or 5 acres of beautiful lawns. These Americans must of learned from us Canadians of how to keep up your yards, as we saw many wives out cutting the grass with normal sized lawnmowers.
Along this road there had been a couple signs saying that no commercial traffic allowed on the ferry, and we all wondered what was up. There was a great section of road that spiralled down this hill for a mile or two and then we came to the Kentucky River and are free ferry. This ferry was an actual paddle wheeler and it certainly made our day.
As we were waiting for the ferry and as normal, we were left behind for one sailing as it only takes a couple cars, two sport bikes pull up and they also are packing semi concealed weapons. I guess it is true, what they say about sport biking being dangerous, down here you have to be armed to survive. I’m glad I only ride a sport touring bike.
We were now on our way to some real great riding but first had to pass through two towns that were just incredibly gross with their glitzy tourist appearance. Both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge complete with Dolly World are places to avoid at all costs. We travelled trough the Great Smokey Mountain Nat. Park which would have been nice if there had not been so many people and then it rained in Buckets.
We arrived at Bryson City (city it is not) where we were going to stay, when my bike refused to start after stopping for some directions. I tried all kinds of things but the starter would not turn at all. Finally I phoned the BMW shop in Asheville N. Carolina and they thought it was my kill switch. They sent a tow truck and hauled me off about 50 miles away to the north. Mik and Steve with only two days left of riding continued on and got a motel on the Little Tennessee River. I stayed over night in Asheville and the great people at the dealership had me going by noon. Seems like there is a problem with the kill switches on the K1600 and they did not have any in stock so they removed one from a bike, changed my oil and filter and I was on my way back to Bryson City. There was no charge for both the repair and towing.
Got a room at the same motel and met Mik and Steve later for more good Bourbon.
The next day brought the normal nice weather in the morning and thunderstorms any time after 2 pm for about 30 minutes then most times would clear up. We rode up on the Blue Ridge Parkway for about 50 miles before Steve thought they should head for Atlanta and return the bikes in preparation for their flight home to SF.
Here is a few photos from the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway which travels from the Knoxville Tenn. area about 400 miles to not far from Richmond Virginia.
After leaving my friends for their journey home, I also started on my last day and half of riding the Appalachian Mountains. Mik and Steve had rode the Dragon and the Cherohalla Skyway when I was dismounted in Asheville so I headed off to the Dragon. After a little time chin wagging at Deals Gap with other riders from all over and waiting for the asphalt to dry I was off to ride the 318 corners in 11 miles of the Dragon.
The first time over the Dragon I was held to a painfully slow ride by a bunch of Harleys who refused to use the pull outs and let the faster riders through. I actually could have drove the Dragon faster in my 42 foot motorhome. At the end I turned around and had a very spirited ride back, oh what fun!
I then headed over to Robbinsville to do the Cherohalla again, which as told before is just about the best highway I’ve ever been on. I was really getting into the grove when I rounded a corner and there a Tax Collector was writing a love letter to a couple of BMW guys. I pulled in very quickly and the copper just gave me a dirty look and kept on talking to the beemer guys. I finished the 40 miles with out any further distractions other then my face was hurting from smiling so much.
The next day was spent travelling a little farther on the Blue Ridge Parkway and then heading north east through Tennessee and then Kentucky again.
My spectacular riding was over but still had a long way to ride to get back home. The roads and scenery were different but just as enjoyable and many more interesting people to meet along the way. In my next post I will explain my route and some of the sights I saw
I finally made it Marietta, which is a suburb of Atlanta. This is one big city with freeways everywhere, and thank heaven for my gps that talks to me via my helmet, as I would never have found my motel. Mik and Steve arrived about 9:30 pm so it gave me some time to do the bane of travelling, laundry. After meeting my friends and enjoying some good Bourbon we decided to meet at the bike rental place Eagle Riders in the morning.
All went well with the rental and we were about to get under way when two young black guys all in leathers arrived riding sport bikes. Steve the gun collector he is, noticed right away that they were packing semi-conceled weapons. While Steve was talking to them we were told that in Georgia you can pack guns anywhere including bars, schools, churches, etc.. What a scary thought!
We left Eagle Riders and proceeded to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park real close to Atlanta. This was the site of the battle that Gen. Sherman waged before he took Atlanta and continued to devastate all of Georgia. The people hear in Georgia, especially in the small towns are still, after 150 years remember this with very bitter thoughts over what happened. In our swing through the south we will meet many people, and when the talk swings to the civil war they still don’t have much time for Yankees.
We were heading for Andersonville civil war prison and we arrived just when they were closing the gates so we decided to go up the road aways and get a motel. We stopped for the night in a little town called Americus before heading back to the National Park in the morning. We stayed in a real old pre 1900s hotel called the Windsor Hotel. Had a ball in the lounge talking to some real old southern people. What an eye opener, even Mik and Steve didn’t really think they were from this century.
The next morning we rode back to Andersonville National War Memorial. It was very well done with a small driving tour showing the grounds and the size of the prison. It was not very large when you consider that 45,000 Union soldiers were held here for 14 months and 13,000 died here. The sanitation was next to non existent and many prisoners died from diseases contacted while in the prison. There was only one little creek flowing through the grounds and the mens waste was also dumped into the creek. It was fitting as even today the creek with a small memorial built around it that has a water fall, has a sign saying the water is not fit for human consumption. The commander of the prison was later tried, convicted and hanged for war crimes. Some info says he was the only one tried for war crimes after the war, but other info differs. Pres. Lincoln was to something to the effect that enough hardship has been done and it is a time for healing and unity of the country. There was a short video and a very good display of all American war prisoners to this date. Mik and I both agreed it was a very depressing place.
Travelled on to the Barber Motorsport complex, what a place. I spotted a wild boar eating grass as we were driving in the curving well landscaped and paved separated lane driveway. It started to turn away from me and then it did a 360 degree turn and charged (tusks and all) straight for Mik who was just behind me. Later Mik told us he hit the throttle and it missed his back wheel by inches. Steve who was in the back said the boar had his head down and when he missed Mik he lost his balance and rolled over on the pavement, got up and ran into the trees. Mik said later that the Pigs just can’t catch him.
The museum that I was told about by another rider in the mountains of Georgia was just spectacular. There are 5 floors of motorcycles and you take the elevator to the top and when you are finished with one floor, there is spiral walkway down to the next floor. He has a minimum of 600 bikes on display at one time and he owns more then 1200. There was even a few of my old bikes on display but I’m afraid they looked better then mine did. They are all completely rebuilt to brand new status and all are within a couple hours of being on the road. There is every kind of motorcycle you can think of, and twice as many that you never heard of. At the back of the museum there is a GP Racetrack where you can watch the cars or bikes flying around the track from the full glassed in wall on that side of the museum. I was planing to visit a couple other bike museums on this trip but I don’t think I will bother as nothing can compare with this. Any biker within 500 miles of this place would have rocks in his head if he didn’t go. Mr. Barber was an Indy driver and he collected these kind of cars and then switched over to motorcycles. He had over 2/3 of the collection when he spent $80 million to build this museum and then turn it into a non profit operation. I never did find out were he made his money.
Here is but a few of many photos I took taken from my videos.
Did I say we enjoyed this day. I most likely have an hour of videos of this incredible place, which I will be suppling Mik and Steve with a copy and they get to hear my voice overs as I read what the displays say.
I will post this now and return to our journeys later as I am having a hard time after a gruelling day riding and a few beers to concentrate on the pictures.
I really do have a hard life.
I rode through Tennessee with out much happening, travelled a few good roads but nothing real special. I decided to stay in Maryville TN. but had troubles finding a good motel and settled for one that only cost $35.00. It was this price for a reason as before the evening settled in I was asked by the fellow in the next room, who was a long term resident if he could wash my bike for $20.00, seems that he was short $20 for is next week stay and he was going to be evicted in the morning. Needless to say I slept with one eye open and both ears, but all was well in the morning and I headed up to the Foothills Parkway which supplied me with about 30 miles of great road and beautiful senery. I then swung around south and proceeded to the Cheraohala Skyway which is 40 miles of pure motorcyclist joy. It consisted of many good sweepers of 100 to 120 kms per hour to real technical corners of 20 kms per hour. The pavement was perfect with only one imperfection in the full 40 miles. The traffic was next none existent with just a scattering of bikers at turnouts who could not stop smiling. Even the signs were accurate which allowed me to go real hot into the corners, fast break then accelerate quickly out of them, there was not one corner that surprised me. Everybody that I have met on this trip has said this is the best road in america and so far I have to believe them.
Picture of views from one overlook, I only took one as I was very reluctant to stop as I didn’t want anything to change the high that I was on.
As always pictures not not do justice to really incredible scenery.
I spent the rest of the day finding then riding great roads all the way down into Georgia. I found a motel on the Chattahoochee River in a quaint little town called Helen. It has been wrote up in various m/c magazines as a good place to make as a central point. The town a number of years ago decided to make this a bavarian style town and touristy has it is, it also was very pleasant. I watched fly fisherman catch trout from my motel, and really enjoyed going down to the river in the evenings after a ride to have a quite pipe full. And to think it was only $59.00.
I spent two nights here and enjoyed it completely with the many roads around here, from sweeping state highways to narrow back county roads. The county roads definitely showed a person the real hill country and how the people live. The people as in Arkansas, although visibly poor are always courteous and more then willing to help an white haired old man on a motorcycle.
After a great day riding and even with my GPS, getting lost a couple times I started the hot gruelling ride to Atlanta. The traffic outside Atlanta for about 40 miles was terrible and as Mik was later to comment it was like playing dodge ball with me as the ball. Not enjoyable at all.
I have had a couple awesome days riding in these mountains with very favourable weather, and the most incredible roads. Well more of that later.
I left Arkansas after traveling down Hwy. 7 and it was a very nice road, it wasn’t incredible but still quite worth taking. After crossing over the Mississippi River and entering the State at Vicksburg I obtained a motel for the evening. I met 4 Harley riders that had come down from Toronto and they were asking what there is to see in this town. After telling then about the Federal Military Park and historic down town one of them said he doesn’t know much american history so they will keep going. Their mistake, as the park is really well worth seeing and I spent about 5 hours there
At the visitors centre they have a short 20 minute film showing how Gen. Grant finally took Vicksburg and what were the conditions like for all people in and around Vicksburg. It was both informative and well done, and so was a wall sized computer display of how the different armies moved around.
The grounds themselves are very large and you drive around and take a self guided tour. As I was on the bike it was a bit hard to read the guide provided and ride. After the war the Federal Government requested that all States that participated in the conflict at Vicksburg to erect a memorial to the fallen. The southern states after the war were very poor so they were the last to comply and their memorials were comparably small, but as time went on they rebuilt them and all of the memorials are quite impressive with there bronze statues. The families of some of the fallen have over time erected other smaller monuments with some very well done carved relief impressions of the individual. Most of these were of officers has they were usually from well to do families and the ordinary soldiers families were all quite poor, especially in the south.
Here is a few pictures taken in and around Vicksburg Mississippi
The following pictures are of some fabulous bronze statues on some of the monuments. The pictures do not do it justice
All in all the park was something to see and I’m very glad that I have visited it. This park and the one I visited in Tennessee called Shiloh makes one wonder that after this war that was so brutal and that concluded 150 years ago, why we as a species cannot seem to get along and our only way to resolve issues is to kill each other. I have many more pictures and videos of the park that placing them all in here would most likely be a bit depressing.
After visiting the park I rode down to the river and visited the old historic town of Vicksburg along with some of the surrounding areas and was quite struck with how poor some Americans live. I did not take any pictures of their dwellings as it didn’t seem right, and I was also worried for my own safety as the residents did not seem to enjoy me riding by.
I did take some pictures of the first bottling plant for Coke-Cola which was located in historic down town Vicksburg. This fellow that had a candy store and bottled soda drinks obtained the syrup from the inventor in Atlanta in 1894 and bottled and sold locally the soft drink. He soon started to branch out and sold many distributorships in Mississippi and beyond. Before this Coke was only available at soda fountains as they individually mixed the syrup with either plain water or carbonated water. I visited the museum there and found it quite interesting and of course I had to buy a Coke in an original sized bottle.
I then left Vicksburg and found one road that had been mentioned in M/C magazines as interesting, and as the name River Road sounded good. It wasn’t to be as I never got to see the river once and it was quite straight and went through farms of corn, peas and beans. A large part of Mississippi that I saw was quite flat and the only saving grace was the farms were divided by reasonable sized tree plantations. It was not on till I took a small portion (about 50 miles) of the famed Natchez Trace Parkway did I see anything that resembled hills. The Natchez Trace Parkway is for cars, bikes and bicycles only with no commercial traffic at all. It was quite pretty with various types of oak trees, other hardwood trees and a pine tree that looks a lot like our Ponderosa Pine. I had been warned not to speed on the parkway many times, from many people, and so I was an old man like I am and obeyed the measly 50 mph speed limit. It wasn’t until I arrived at Tupelo that I even seen a copper.
Along the way I stopped and visited an ancient indian mound area. These natives lived here long before any Spaniards even thought about crossing the Atlantic.
Tupelo was my next stop and I went out of my way to visit the birth place of Elvis Presley.
Toured through the small house that Elvis was born in and the church that he worshipped in. The museum was fairly good with many pictures of Tupelo Miss. back in the 30s and 40s. It was quite interesting to find out that when Elvis was about 7 years he asked is Momma for a gun. She thought he was too young and so bought him a child’s guitar for $5.00 and convinced him this was better then a gun. He loved to sing and eventually play the guitar in church, he also frequented the black jazz / blues part of Tupelo to listen to their music out side the juke joints. Tupelo was certainly worth going to for Elvis has, and continues to supply inspiration to musicians and contributes in a large way to the music most of us love.
Some pictures from Tupelo
I then left Mississippi and entered Tennessee where I visited another Civil war site called Shiloh. This was another in a soon to become series of sites that would remind me of the sheer stupidity of man. Shiloh has a very impressive cemetery, but I have to admit I was a little depressed walking through it to take any pictures.
The rest of my journey in Tennessee was uneventful but I did mange to find some fairly good roads that succeeded in whetting my appetite for the things to come as I neared the Appalachian Mountains.
May 14 finds me holed up in a Best Western Motel in Russellville Ark. I arrived here yesterday after a very wet sodden day travelling over what would have been very scenic back roads in the Ozarks Mountains. The rain blurred my visions of the rolling hills that surrounded me, and even if the roads were tight and twisty, the weather left a little to be desired. Which brings me back to wimping out and waiting out this second day of rain in my dry room, as tomorrow is supposed to be dry and only partly cloudy as I head down Arkansas Hwy. 7 which is believed to be the most scenic highways in Arkansas. I know that the portion of 7 I travelled a couple days ago north of Interstate 40 was great, so I didn’t want to do the south part in the rain. Tomorrow trip is already entered in my trusty GPS and shows about 525 kms to Vicksburg where I will spend the day at the civil war memorial park.
The following is an update since my last post
I left Phoenix and travelled up into the highlands (between 8 & 9 thousand feet) near Show Low and stayed in a little town just east on Hwy. 60. I awoke to quite cold weather and it was trying to snow. After conversing with another biker who was heading west, I headed east thinking (by way of cloud formation) my ride was going to be better. It was not to be so, as the clouds got very dark and the temperature dropped to 0 degrees C. and it started to snow. At one time I needed to stop at a rest site for about 30 minutes as the pavement was now white. Thank Heaven for todays technology as I stayed warm with my good clothing and turned up the heat on both my bike seat and handle grips.
It finally warmed up enough to melt the snow and I was off for Albuquerque were I took a nice back road up to Santa Fe were I stayed the night. The next day after listening to another biker who advised me to be careful in old town Santa Fe I was off to see the oldest Mission still in use in the USA.
When ever I am traveling, although I’m not overly religious I enjoy viewing and touring old churches. They meant so much in by-gone years that I find them very interesting to view and wonder what these long since gone people thought and how they lived.
The inside of the Mission was very interesting and it made me think of the church called the Lady of Good Hope, that Nancy and I visited in Fort St James many years ago. These churches harken back to a time that life was quite hard, simple, and very community minded.
I left Santa Fe and travelled by another neat back road to Taos, New Mexico. This town I’ve have visited before and found it very enjoyable, as it has a very long and intriguing history. I have read many books on this area and the town of Taos is always mentioned as an important town in the mid 1800’s. Kit Carson was one of many that travelled through and he made his home here. Mountain men would come and trade their furs, gold seekers travelled through, and generally people heading west would know about Taos. It also played an important part in the historic Santa Fe Trail. Before the Americans came the Spanish were here when this was all part of Mexico. They created Missions all through this area, and as usual mistreated and misunderstood the native people who had lived here for thousands of years. There is still a large population of natives and they have a village in the town where they will allow you (if you pay) to see their working village and some celebrations.
The town now is quite touristy but in an acceptable way, as most inhabitants are of the artistic bend. There is many art shops showing off paintings, sculptures and other handicraft items. Just west of the town the Rio Grand River Gorge Bridge is worth seeing and viewing the many houses that are built into the ground. Solar power around here is very popular as even if New Mexico gets very cold in the winter the sun is usually shining. The houses I’ve mentioned and the Rio Grand River was visited by me on a past M/C trip.
This time I visited a local market and bought a couple gifts from a local native that were made from the gourd plant, for my family back home. The houses and most buildings in the area are very appealing to me,and here is a couple of pictures I took.
When I left Taos the weather was great, just a few scattered clouds and about 24 degrees with minimal wind. I had read about Hwy.64 east that heads up and over the Sange de Cristo Mountains before and every description that it was a good M/C road was proven true. Lots of big sweepers and just enough tight technical corners of 15 to 25 mph corners to keep you on your toes. The pavement was good and the best thing was there was very few other vehicles sharing the road with me. Went through towns with great names such as Angle Fire and Eagle Nest and was exposed to more great scenery and views. I had previously travelled on Hwy 64/84 coming down from Colorado and thought that road was good, it doesn’t hold a candle to this road east out of Taos.
I had just left the mountains behind when I arrived at another old west historic town of Cimarron. This is town that any one reading western novels or history will recall. Many players in the town history are mentioned all through American history from the Mountain Man era, Civil War time, the wild west and the great movement of people to California and Oregon.
Along the highway was a great photo display and wright ups of some of the history of the area. This was also on the famed Santa Fe Trail.
This was also what was to become the start of a couple days ride through the panhandle of Oklahoma and beyond with strong winds and flat, and I mean flat farm land. I also made a decision here to miss Fort Benton as it was a considerable amount of miles to the north. Next trip to Colorado will have to suffice.
After the aforementioned 2 days in Oklahoma I arrived at Fort Smith Arkansas in very warm temperatures. My first two days of riding here was very warm and as this was the first time this year riding with only my tee shirt on, ( i had pants on to) I was rewarded with a fair sun burn to my arms.
In my past two times through this area I had only touched into Arkansas but never really exploring this great state. My plans were to spend 5 plus days here but with the weather I will be here just over 4 days. I have pretty well covered the north western part of the state in an area generally referred as the Ozarks. It is very mountainous with and over abundance of extremely twisty roads. I have travelled over the famed pig highway and although it is compared with the Tail of the Dragon I do not think it is of the same calibre. I have rode others roads here and in my view, they have been better and with less people on them. My lose definition of a good road is one that has only a few people on it, second a combination of big long sweepers and tight technical corners, thirdly it most have good pavement and signage that you can trust, and last but certainly not least NO TAX COLLECTORS.(oh yeah, it must have good scenery too) So far there seems to be no shortage of good motorcycle roads in this state, the only drawback is that it’s quite a journey to ride here from B.C.
It seems with tomorrows ride under my belt I will have rode the majority of what the locals say are good roads. I have had no end of advise from local people here telling me of some good road, and while I’m happy with this journey I’m sure there is many more roads that may tempt me back in the future.
On the ride yesterday my bike and I travelled through real back hill country towns were the majority of men wore long scraggly beards, work jeans with suspenders and some dirty ole cap on their head. The houses differed a long ways from other areas that I’ve visited in this state and there was a large percentage of very old mobile homes with various junk around them. Although the people that I met at different stops were very friendly and courteous and none of them was playing a banjo, so I felt quite safe.
As in a lot of other parts of the US there is a lot of brick houses which look quite neat. Only yesterday while I was talking to a couple of brick layers, they explained to me that the brick was only one brick wide and not a structural part of the building. They said it was late 50’s when people started to use brick more as a siding then actual structural component. Again most houses even in the rural areas are very neat with large well kept lawns and other landscaping. The wood they use to build houses here is mainly pine and they do have some large plantations of pine, but the predominate trees are all of the hard wood variety. When I mentioned Fir and Hemlock to this builder I wasn’t sure he had ever heard of these trees before.
Another odd thing about back here is when I tell people were I’m going they all have one city or another to mention to be careful in, seeing that I’m Canadian and aren’t packing a gun. All a person has to do is travel in the small towns of the US to realize that the average American has a lot of different ideas then we have up in Canada.
The day before yesterday when I had stopped at a town called Harrisson for the night, the sky as promised by the weather forecasters opened up and its hard to remember when I had seen that much rain. I was certainly very glad that earlier in the day a Marshall had warned me not to put off getting shelter to late in the afternoon as a storm was coming, he didn’t think a tornado but a wicked thunderstorm. He was certainly right.
The following is a few pictures taken along the way in Arkansas.
The pig trail was named after the amount of people using this road to travel up to Fayetteville to watch their beloved foot ball team. I was told, not to politely when inquiring, did they have a team called the Pigs that they are called the Razorbacks.
Typical hill through out the Ozarks.
My wet relaxing day is ending with patches of blue sky and hopefully also a promise of a good ride tomorrow.
May 2 finds my bike ready and the health insurance needed to travel in the US of A complete and so I make my way down to the inner harbour to catch the 10:30 am Coho Ferry over to Port Angles. The weather was great, quite warm and not a cloud in the sky. Having watched the weather forecast I new it was going to be overcast and chance of showers for the next couple days, and oh -did I get that right.
Coho Ferry Arriving
Waiting at Terminal
Traveling through Washington State was quite uneventful and was soon forced to put my rain gear on. It didn’t rain heavily with only showers trying to dampen the enjoyment of the ride. I crossed over the 4 mile long bridge that spans the Columbia River has it enters the ocean and stayed that night at a nice motel in Astoria Oregon.
May 3rd dawned with a fairly steady, but not too heavy downpour. After suiting up and aiming my faithful stead south on Hwy. 101 I was still able to enjoy the great road and the ocean vistas even if they were limited by the clouds. Here is a few pictures of the along the coast.
I stayed over night in a little town called Brookings just before the California border also on Hwy. 101. May the 4th also dawned with rain and it stayed with me till I was about 200 miles north of San Francisco when the weather was just overcast with the odd teasing of blue sky. It was a long day having travelled almost 800 kms. when I arrived at my friends house about 160 ams south of San Francisco. I was warmly welcomed (even if I was a little late) at Steve and Martha’s very nice house over looking Monterey Bay. I was planning on having new tires install on my bike in San Jose but I was happily surprised as the tread on the back tire seemed not be wearing as fast as I thought.
Steve told be of a good road up through the Sequoia National Park which I took the next day and was rewarded with a sunny day and smiles from ear to ear from me. The road was very technical and I was only able to get out of 2nd gear a couple times in one 40 km. part. All in all a great day with the only down side was that my Go Pro camera had been left on and so I was unable to film any of this road. This road cuts through the very southern part of the Sierra Mts and you end of coming out at Lake Isabella and then on to Hwy. 395 that I’m very familiar with from many past rides.
A poor shot of the great trees all through the park
I stayed the night in a town called Ridgecrest Ca. and decided that the next day I would make my way to Phoenix Ar. to get some tires. This ride was over some not bad roads, but mostly Interstate or divided four lanes, so kinda boring.
The shop in Phoenix, (actually it was Scottsdale) was very large but they still treated me well and I was out and on my way by 11:30 am onMay the 7th heading up into the high country ( 7000 feet) near Show Low. Very nice sweeping curvy roads and with speeds of an easy 140 km per hour plus, you had to watch for the tax men. They were very abundant and quite sneaky but I was able to avoid their hungry claws.
I will be heading NE tomorrow through Santa Fe New Mexico and into a very neat little town call Taos—–but thats tomorro
The first leg of my 2014 ride was started this morning from our farm on Agate Bay Rd.
I rode out at 8:45 amidst a canopy of clouds and sun with a temperature of only 2 C. and headed to Kamloops where I would then travel down the Fraser Canyon to Hope and then to Victoria via the Tsawwassen ferry. The trip was quite uneventful but also enjoyable as the sun was shining and the traffic was light.
The staff at Island BMW were, as usual, very professional and helpful with Bill Wellbourn adding that little bit extra. We participated in the show of support for the family of Leading Seaman Brandon South as he was brought home to his family. Brandon South a 14 year veteran of our armed forces was servicing on the HMCS Regina near Tanzania when he became very ill an passed on in the hospital. The amount of support showed by the people of Victoria that lined the highway and overpasses from the airport showed that most people realize how important our men and women in the forces are.
My heart definitely goes out to Brandon South’s family