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