2008 Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle trip

August 15

5:35 am. The air was cold...low 50's. The crickets were chirping. The trailer was packed. Even though I was up before my alarm clock I was behind schedule. I fired up the bike and headed east to John's to start our 2008 motorcycle trip. This year the V-twin rumble of the Nomad has been replaced with the smooth hum of my Goldwing.

Last year we went to Asheville and explored most of the southern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. After the trip ended we began discussing a trip to ride the entire length of the Parkway. Our initial plan was to stop for a day in Charleston, WV, then spend several days nomadically traversing the Parkway north to south. Like all good plans, this one slowly morphed into a longer and better vacation. We would spend a couple days in a cabin near the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, a day in Charleston, then 4 days in a cabin near Roanoke. This will be the first trip of our newly organized motorcycle riding club...the "East 50 Phelons".

I also have a Garmin 276C GPS this year. It can record up to 10,000 track log points that include time, location, speed, altitude, etc. It'll make a nice diary of our trip and help me keep track of where/when we go. John has my StreetPilot III on his bike.

Bedford, IN. 5:57, initial mileage is 24,472 - I rolled into John's three minutes ahead of our meeting time. The weather forecast for the entire vacation is sunny and in the 80's. It should be a great week for riding, sightseeing, and relaxing. Mike and Lisa put some of their luggage into my recently enlarged trailer. A few cigarettes are burned. The cool air feels good mixed with the anticipation of the trip. There is a faint glint of sunrise showing. Finally, at 6:25, we mount up and start the trip we have been looking forward to for many months. I lead, Mike follows, and John brings up the rear pulling his trailer.

Sellersburg, IN. 7:34, mileage 24,537 - Our normal first stop for fuel. We had taken our now standard route of SR250 over to I-65. It is a nice scenic road and cuts several miles and minutes off our route. As we roamed around the gas station store John pointed out a breakfast sandwich for me to try...bologna and egg. Hmmmmm...I like bologna sandwiches and egg sandwiches so I gave it a try. Yummy! It wouldn't be the last bologna and egg sandwich I'd have on the trip.

On our trip last year my bike had already broken down once by now. Even though I was on a different and traditionally more reliable bike I was still haunted by the memories. I'll share some good news...my bike performed flawlessly. Want more good news? Not a drop of rain the entire trip!

Frankfort, KY. 9:17, mileage 24,599 - The site of our trip last fall and our normal stop. The Shell station stop is being remodelled into a BP station. For some reason one of the contractors felt the need to pull his truck within a few inches of our bikes. It's nice that our next stop will be our destination. It's nice to do short trips instead of monster hauls to get somewhere. Hint: Next year we'll be doing a long haul trip.

Slade, KY. 11:01, mileage 24,670 - Our final hop for the day brought us to Slade, KY. It is nestled between the Red River Gorge and the Natural Bridge areas.

Debby and Lisa went to the cabin check-in to check on the details while us guys visited the post office/store next door. The girls found that we couldn't check into the cabin until 3:00 pm. No problem. We can explore and gather information.

Our first stop was the Subway down the street for lunch. According to the GPS we spent 44:26 minutes here. We also picked up some ice for the cooler. There was a wasp guarding the cooler door. One of us had to die. It lost. John modeled his man-purse.

Next we rode back down the street to a gift shop. The road to the parking lot was steep and the initial turn uphill was hard to negotiate with the trailers. We didn't find anything exciting although they had a stuffed moose they were proud of. If you touched it it would cost you $50.

We rode next door to the Shell station and filled the bikes, then headed south on KY11.

We went across the 4-lane to the caboose visitor center. It was full of brochures and good information. Unfortunately it was padlocked.

We walked to the rest area next door but didn't find much. No biggie, we'll just explore.

We rode ~6 miles south to a picnic area and stopped for awhile. There were cars parked there and we assumed they had walked into the woods to climb. People come from all over the world to climb in these areas. After exploring the woods and creek bed for awhile we headed south again. We rode all the way to Zoe where we pulled off at a gas station, sat on a picnic table, and studied our maps.

Given the time (13:26) we decided to head back north and check out things we'd seen on the way down.

On the way back we stopped at a rock climbing place where the girls took pictures, then motored to Mills Lake, Ye Old Country Peddler, Boone Forest Shop, and the Daniel Boone Trading Post. It was after 15:20 pm when we finished there so we headed back to Slade to check into our cabin.

The cabin ended up being on the hill behind the check-in place. The road was a little steep in spots but nothing non-negotiable. The cabin was excellent. Three stories. Three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths. Wireless internet. A nice deck/porch to sit at. We unpacked, ditched the trailers, and settled in for awhile. A cabin is the way to go when you can split the costs among several people. It is cheaper and nicer than a hotel.

After lounging for an hour or so it was decided to go get some groceries. Google showed a grocery store just up the road north on KY11. We headed that way but didn't find anything, so we kept going. We talked to a couple parked at a church who said there was a grocery store a few more miles up the road in Stanton. We got groceries at the Sav-a-lot, packed them on the bikes, and headed back the 12.1 scenic miles to our cabin. We quickly unpacked the groceries. John and Mike wanted some 'beverage' so the guys headed south on KY11 to a liquor store we'd seen while the girls kindly started cooking.

When we were at Mills Lake earlier we thought the dam would be a great place for a motorcycle picture so on the way to the liquor store we pulled the bikes onto the dam. When we got to the liquor store I made a rare find for these parts...Coke! Pespi seems to have the monopoly around here but I like Coke better. With our beverages bought we made the 8.4 mile ride back to the cabin.

After a fine supper we lounged on the porch and basked in the afterglow of our first day on vacation. We decided tomorrow we would visit the Natural Bridge park and then do some 'Venom motorcycle tours' in Jackson. I spent some time on the porch entering the routes into the GPS. It was heavenly...sitting at a table on a porch on a cabin on a hillside in eastern Kentucky, cool night air, wireless internet, inputting tomorrow's rides into the GPS. When getting ready for bed I noticed something shiny behind my bed. It was a full can of Coors Light. Party on, Garth.

264 miles.

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Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Epilogue

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