2010 Cherry Point motorcycle trip

August 27

My plan was to be on the road as the sun was rising. Well...plans changed. I woke up at 2:30 am and didn't get back to sleep for a couple hours so my departure time was closer to 7:30. I had enjoyed the TDY at Cherry Point but now I was looking forward to the ride home. I had hoped we might finish a day or two early but as in most engineering situations a problem or two pops up and we stayed until the planned last day. This pretty much ruled out any long trips home through points north or south. I'll take a straight shot home.

When I couldn't get back to sleep I knew I couldn't realistically get home in one day like I had pondered. I fired up the laptop and used Streets and Trips to guestimate a realistic destination for the evening. A good stop appeared to be Winchester, KY. I booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express for that evening.

I wanted to avoid the interstate for the most part. I'll take NC-43 to US58 in Virginia, then I'll link up with my previously planned bailout route in Hillsville, VA.

The weather for today was supposed to be nice. Low 80s and sunny. There was a lot of overcast but no rain predicted. That'll make it even nicer. I was very refreshed and excited as I packed up the bike. I stopped just north of New Bern for ice, pop, and a couple teas.

NC-43 was a nice road. Good condition, nice rural scenery, traffic was flowing well. There was still some fog in spots.

I got behind this fire truck in Greenville. Dad loves this NFPA-recommended striping...not. The temperature is still great. NC-43 ended just south of Warrenton...where I picked up US1 for a short time.

There are a couple huge reservoirs in the area and this is the river between them.

Welcome to Virginia...and noticeable poorer roads.

At 11:17 I reached US58. It's 4-lane so I can make some time. I'll be riding on a little bit of everything today.

Boydton, VA. 11:30 - After 165 miles and 3 1/2 hours of riding I stopped for gas.

Ten miles down the road I came to the outskirts of Clarksville. I loved the view of the bridges crossing a finger of the reservoir. US58 bypass was on the left and there was a railroad trestle on the right. I took a 'leaving it behind' photo of the bridge.

I stopped at McDonalds for a chicken sandwich. I was hungry and it tasted good. There were quite a few older people there. It was fun listening to them talk with their Virginia accents.

After lunch I headed down main street on my way back to US58. Several miles down the road I passed another finger of the reservoir.

Riding through South Boston there was a Holiday Inn Express next to the Honda shop. That would be a convenient place to be if you had motorcycle troubles. I didn't have any...knock on wood.

The GPS made a nice companion. I really like the 'miles to next destination' field. Here I'm several miles east of Danville.

In the Danville area I rode by Old 97 Choppers, then it was more four-lane. This tree made me chuckle. When we passed through Martinsville (home of the Martinsville Speedway) US58 became known as the Jeb Stuart Parkway.

Near Stuart the mountains could be seen in the distance. This was about my halfway point for the day. The road soon became two-lane and curvy as it entered the mountains. I didn't see any of these.

When US58 became two-lane there was a sign recommending trucks with trailers take an alternate route. This guy didn't listen. He's the one pulling the tri-axle trailer with traffic backed up behind him.

Soon US58 would cross the Blue Ridge Parkway just a mile or so south of Mabry Mill. I had pondered a side trip there and the slow traffic convinced me to. I passed through Meadows of Dan on the way to the BRP interchange.

My bike at Mabry Mill.

After taking the classic Mabry Mill picture I parked in the lot. There were several other bikes there. It had been almost three hours since my last stop and it felt good to get off the bike and use the facilities. I was very tempted to order one of their concoctions to go, but I decided I didn't want to wait.

When I got ready to leave the sky to the west looked a little dark. The GPS showed potential rain to my north. Hopefully it will stay there. As I got ready to pull out onto the BRP a bunch of bikes were pulling in from the north. It was a pretty sight to see.

Soon I was off the BRP and back on US58 passing through one little burg after another. The dark skies were gone by now. I was treated to some really nice views. Near Hillsville there was construction that appeared to be a bypass to the interstate.

Hillsville, VA. 15:14 - Gas stop. The Subway store tempted me but I declined.

I picked up I-77 at Hillsville and headed north. Even the interstate can be scenic...as this picture shows. At the bottom of the hill was a surprise...a tunnel.

Had I been driving by maps I would have taken I-77 until it met US460 near Bluefield. I had let Streets and Trips make the route and it had me turn onto VA-614 at Grapefield. It was a nice road. Curvy at first, a 'fourth gear' road for the most part, and real curvy at the end as it crossed a mountain and merged with VA-61...a nice cruising road to Tazewell were I got on US460.

The highway was fairly straight for awhile, but at Claypool Hill it turned into the mountains and was pretty curvy as it wound through the valleys. In some places there were some very impressive cut outs where they moved a huge amount of rock to put the highway through.

At Grundy US460 dropped down to 2-lane and you started getting into coal country. One point the coal cars went on and on and on. I could see the exhaust from a locomotive buried in the cars pushing them around. As the road wound through the valleys it seemed like a repeat of little villages, a creek next to the road, and the occasional rustic railroad bridge.

Everything seems to be related to coal. The coal mines and distribution systems. Railroads to haul the coal. Coal trucks, and shops to repair the trucks. Add in some houses, churches, and fire departments and it's what you can expect to see in the mountains of eastern Kentucky and western Virginia.

The mountains have limited expansion many years ago. In some places houses and driveways are eeked out of some pretty scary looking crevices and ledges.

I do pretty good with my 'point and shoot' picture taking, but sometimes I'm disappointed. Like this blurry picture of the Kentucky state sign.

As I passed through Regina, KY, I saw several references to FEMA and it looked like something had happened, but it wasn't obvious what it was. When I got to the hotel later I looked online and found they had had severe flash flooding. That would suck. In these narrow valleys a raging stream could do some nasty damage, and do it quickly.

At Pikeville US460 and US23 merge and become four lane again. At an intersection I saw several 'caterpiller' tractor/trailers. Those would be a handful on these curvy roads.

It had been 3 1/2 hours since Hillsville and me and the bike both needed some attention. It gas, and me a butt break and a fresh drink.

Fifteen minutes later I was on the highway again. I always smile at the deer signs. I live in Indiana. I watch for deer as soon as I open the garage door. Ha!

At Prestonburg I veered onto KY-114. Back on the two-lane.

I knew when I reached the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway near Salyersville it would go back to four-lane and I could make some speed. I was surprised to find it was only two-lane. When we had ridden to Slade in 2008 it was four-lane. Hmmmmm. Luckily traffic was light and there were a lot of truck lanes for passing, so I had the hammer down. When the sun starts going down I get in the mood to get where I'm going. Given the time of day I was on constant alert for deer.

Near Campton I reached the ever expanding four lane portion. The dusky sky looked nice.

Winchester, KY. 20:48 - I reached the Holiday Inn Express 13+ hours and 604 miles after leaving New Bern, North Carolina. I checked in, unpacked a little, ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut, and wiped the road grime off my face. An hour and 45 minutes later the pizza finally arrived. Hmmmmmmm. Sleep came easily and my sore butt appreciated the mattress. I'm glad I decided to make the trip in two parts.

The route today was a nice mix of all types of roads and sceneries to keep things fresh.

604 miles.

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