August 29, 2007
Today was a pretty uneventful ride. I left Dallas at around
8:30 AM and headed around the city to I-20 eastbound,
taking me through Louisiana, stopping for lunch just
outside of Shreveport. After that I headed through Monroe
to Vicksburg, MS and my stopping place for the night,
Jackson, MS. The bike was running fine, no problems to
August 30, 2007
Leaving Jackson this morning on the way to Chattanooga, TN,
I ran in to a spot of trouble. About 20 miles outside
Meridian, MS the engine just died, like hitting the kill
switch, at about 75 miles per hour. After about 5 minutes
on the side of the road fiddling with every connection I
could find it just cleared itself up and started. I rode
cautiously the rest of the way in to Meridian and had it
happen once more, but it was a momentary blip, just an
off-on instead of staying off.
I pulled in to the dealer in Meridian and they had the bike
on the lift in less than 10 minutes. The diagnosis was a
bad circuit breaker on the ignition circuit. Since they
didn't have one in stock we swapped the one for the
accessory circuit and I was back down the road.
I stopped for lunch in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and called ahead
to the dealer in Birmingham. They happened to have one in
stock and put it aside with my name on it. When I got there
it was waiting for me and along with a shirt and a new rear
turn signal bulb it went in the luggage to be worked on
when I stopped.
Since I was making such good time, even with the problems,
I called ahead and told the Knoxville crew that I'd be in
late tonight. It didn't seem to make much sense to pay for
a hotel room in Chattanooga when I only had about 110 more
miles to ride.
I arrived at around 9:30 PM a little tired but done with
that leg of the trip.
August 31, 2007
Today was a play day, with my only plans being to ride
Deal's Gap and the Cherohala Skyway. I've ridden the dragon
before, when I was out in 2005, and it was just as much fun
as before. Despite the heavy police presence discussed
everywhere, I only saw two cops. The first was writing a
ticket at one of the turnouts at the start of the Tennessee
side and the other was slowing everyone down and warning
them about the semi he was leading through. I really wish
that we could get the word out that the road's no good for
18 wheelers, but I guess that's just wishful thinking.
Stopped for lunch at Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort and
picked up a book that has some nice routes throughout the
After lunch I headed deeper into North Carolina to pick up
the Cherohala Skyway, which turned out to be one of the
best routing decisions I made on this trip. It was
absolutely beautiful, winding its way along the border with
great views of the Smoky Mountains. It was a little on the
rainy side so the mountains were a bit obscured but it
still made for some great photography. I got a little wet
riding through the sprinkles up there, and I had to keep
the speed down because of the wet roads, but it was well
worth the trip. Total riding time was around 6 hours to
cover around 160 miles.
September 1, 2007
Today was a down day, just hanging out and relaxing. I did
head in to town to pick up some oil because the bike's been
eating a little more than I like. I'm also getting some
valve clatter from the front cylinder which sounds like a
lifter's going out. Not good being this far from home.
Right now it only does it when the engine's cold. Once it's
gotten warmed up everything's OK, so I'm going to watch it
and stop if I have to.
September 2, 2007
Boomsday. Not much more to say. It's the biggest Labor Day
fireworks festival in the country. They closed down a
bridge over the Tennessee River to launch the fireworks
from and it really kicked ass. We managed to get a spot
really close to the bridge and were treated to an awesome
September 3, 2007
This is the last day in Knoxville so I went over to one of
the drives through the Smoky Mountains National Park for
some more picture taking opportunities. I got to see a
black bear and a cub near the beginning of the loop. The
pictures of them aren't that good because of the thick
undergrowth messing with the autofocus, but it was still a
treat. After that, it was slow going, winding through the
park, stopping to take pictures where I saw something that
looked good. I got a few good shots of some of the streams,
but the locals say that the water levels are extremely low
due to the drought.
After that I headed back to pack the bike up for the ride
September 4, 2007
The bike was all packed and ready to go but I couldn't find
my XM receiver so I stopped in town and picked up another
one and got it activated before I hit the road. That was
another minor annoyance that added some time onto the trip.
In fact, I didn't get out of Knoxville until almost noon.
Today was a straight shot over to Tunica, Mississippi, a
small outpost of casinos and hotels just south of Memphis,
TN. It started raining on the way south and the rest of the
ride in was a little damp. I got checked in to the hotel
and called it an early night.
September 5, 2007
I got up this morning and headed south, over to Clarksdale,
MS to the home of the Delta Blues Museum but since I was
starving, I stopped at a small restaurant/blues club called
The Depot. They had the best, hand made fried okra I've
ever had. The sweet tea was just this side of syrup, and
the burger was delicious.
Having gotten my hunger under control I went over to the
museum, paid my money to get in, and wandered around.
They've got some really good exhibits on the artists and
the environment that shaped their music. It was truly
educational and fun at the same time. If you're in the
area, you should definitely stop by. I brought home a
shirt, a book on Robert Johnson, and a CD of his
After that I went back to the hotel and arrived just in
time to avoid the downpour. It seems like every road trip
ends up with me getting rained on. I had been planning to
ride back to Clarksdale to go to a blues show, but with the
weather being as nasty as it was, I didn't want to ride 100
miles (round trip) in that kind of rain. So instead I went
over to the casino and gambled for a little while. I didn't
strike it rich so I ate dinner and went to sleep.
September 6, 2007
The ride home. I checked out of the hotel, snagged a quick
breakfast at the gas station, and pointed the bike west. I
took a nice detour over some US routes through Mississippi
and Arkansas before picking up the interstate outside of
Little Rock. The rest of the ride was blessedly uneventful
and I arrived home no worse for wear at around 6:30 PM. I
rode around 2200 miles on this trip, a little shorter than
my previous ones have been, but still a lot of fun.