2011 Pigeon Forge motorcycle trip

August 25

Ever since Donna and I started seeing each other a couple months ago I've been teasing her about a trip to Pigeon Forge. The peacefulness. The beautiful views. The relaxation and fun. A few weeks ago she mentioned she had taken a vacation week the last week of August. I happened to check the cabin pricing structure for Fireside Chalets and found this was their cheapest week of the summer. Hmmmmmmmm. A plan started brewing in my mind. I emailed them and found what cabins were available. They had a 'buy three, get the fourth night free' special going on so I rented the Pure Heaven cabin for August 25-29.

I've been trying to get my brother to go on a motorcycle trip for years. I texted him and his girlfriend Stephanie and invited them to come with us. At first I didn't know if they were gonna go, but they were able to get all their shifts covered. Monty is a paramedic, Stephanie a police dispatcher. Excellent!

Mike Padgett from work and I have went on a few bike trips the last couple years. He had mentioned earlier in the summer that he was going to take his girlfriend Penny to Pigeon Forge sometime in the late summer/early fall. I told him about my brother and I going and I could see the wheels turning in his head. He ended up renting the Bit of Heaven cabin next door to our's.

We now had a gang. The loose plan was to ride down together, go to the Biltmore together the next day, then ride back together the last day. The rest of the time we'd do our own things.

Every day leading up to the trip we'd check the weather forecast and every day it was different. Indiana weather. This morning the forecast is for cloudy skies, but no rain. Perfect. Donna was excited to go on her first bike trip, and I was excited to be taking her.

I would see this happy face a lot.

We met at Jim Day's at 8am. Mike was early. I was on time. Monty was a fashionably late. Monty and Stephanie are on the black 2007 GL1800. Mike and Penny are on the 2006 Titanium GL1800. Donna and I are on Orange. All the bikes have ABS. Introductions were made. We're all looking forward to a fun trip. I got some pop and ice for the cooler at the store.

Bedford, IN. 8:10, initial mileage 54,283 - We headed out to start our adventure. It looked nice to see the Goldwings in the mirror...especially the black one, finally. Clear skies and low 70's. Awesome. Donna has my other camera so we can get more pictures.

Galena, IN. 9:19, mileage 54,341 - It was a pleasant ride down IN-37 to Paoli then US150. Despite the forecast for no rain the sky looks dark towards Louisville. My GPS weather radar shows storms withering away to the east. We spent some extra time milling around waiting for the rain to move off.

I happened to look down and see that one of my trailer chains was in two pieces. Years of dragging the trailer chains on curvy roads had finally taken its toll. I went into the station and the manager gave me a quick-link she had laying around in the back room. That'll work for this trip.

After 25 minutes we headed towards Louisville. We were on I-64 in no time. There was some construction on the I-64 bridge and cops setting around so traffic was a little slow and skittish. Eventually Louisville was behind us.

About 15 miles west of Frankfort the skies started looking ominous. We're gonna cut down KY-151 to US127. My GPS shows our path to be just on the edge of the rain.

The closer we got to our turnoff the wetter the roads were. We hope to avoid rain, but it's gonna be close.

We made it to KY-151. The roads were wet, and the trees were dripping. We got into some sprinkly rain here and there but nothing that required donning rain gear.

The GPS keeps showing us on the edge of the storm. By the time we got to US127 it was dry again, but heavy clouds seemed to be lurking to our left (east).

Harrodsburg, KY. 11:13, mileage 54,427 - Our second stop for the day. This gas station didn't take credit cards and they had no bathrooms. No one had to go desperately, so we decided to find something down the road. The bike gang had been to Harrodsburg on our 2006 trip and I recognized many familiar places.

On the way out of town was a sign for Cracker Barrel in Danville, the next town down the road. This would be a good place to stop for a restroom break as they always have nice restrooms. It might also be a good place to have lunch if everyone is hungry.

Danville came and went with no sign of the Cracker Barrel. We continued on down US150. The temperature is starting to get hot.

At Brodhead a decent gas station appeared so we pulled over for a break.

There was a stream that would have probably felt good to wade in. One of the trashcans had hundreds of bees buzzing around it so we were careful.

There was lots of road construction and it appears one day US150 will be 4-lane all the way to I-75. Once we got to I-75 we were able to make some decent speed.

London, KY. 13:03 - Wendys became the lunch choice. Behind the Wendys is the truck stop where we stopped earlier this summer on the way home from our Georgia trip after having ridden through a drenching rain. Memories from the past intertwine with the present.

After lunch it was a short jaunt over to the Dog Patch. I had told Donna we could stop here and she could peruse the girly junk. Monty & Stephanie won, then lost, money in a quarters machine. I found some state pins and bought some Georgia and South Carolina pins for the gang. Donna got a keychain.

Back on the interstate I spotted my ultimate retirement vehicle.

Soon we were in Tennessee.

Caryville, TN. 15:04, mileage 54,563 - Our last fuel stop for the day. The skies are sunny and it's hot. The next time we stop we'll be in Pigeon Forge.

There was some aggravating road construction in Knoxville. Usually you can shoot straight through on US441. Not today. The detour signs were poorly placed for someone who is not familiar with the area, and I was happy to get across the river and back on familiar roads.

Pigeon Forge, TN. 16:39 - We arrived at the Fireside Chalets office to check in. The air conditioned office felt good.

At 17:02 we arrived at the cabins. The cabin driveways were steeper than I thought they'd be. Monty didn't like the steep, windy road to the cabins.

Neither did my bike. With two people and the heavy trailer it puked a little antifreeze when we pulled in. Not an uncommon problem for the older GL1800s. We unpacked and unhooked the trailer.

We spent a couple hours unpacking, relaxing, and taking in the beautiful view that keeps me coming back here.

A little after 7pm we headed into town for supper. Shoneys seems to be a first night tradition for Mike and I so we went there. Mike and I normally get the buffet. The girls went to the buffet to investigate and when they came back their noses were wrinkled. Girls are pickier than guys. Ha! We all ordered off the menu. I got a turkey club. Some of us threatened to get some dessert but we couldn't do it. We were too full.

The evening Pigeon Forge sky was beautiful. One more stop.

We rode up the main drag to Walmart for supplies. We got back to the cabin at 9:30. We took showers and settled in for the evening. We have a full day tomorrow and need to be up early.

361 miles.

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