2010 Fall motorcycle trip

Last year's East 50 motorcycle trip was born out of aggravation caused by my then-girlfriend, and was several weeks in the planning. I wanted to take another fall trip this year, but travel for work left me unsure when it would be possible. By mid-September I was confident the Columbus Day weekend would be free so I started making plans.

The trip route changed a few times. It would be a few days riding then a couple days hanging out in Pigeon Forge. As it got closer to time to go it became apparent it would just be Mike Padgett and I again (yes...my brother didn't go again) so I finalized a route to go places neither of us had been to. Highlights would be riding along the Ohio River, passing through the New River Gorge area, riding "The Snake", then spending some time in Pigeon Forge.

Several days before the trip Mike asked if we would be going to IHOP again as he had liked eating there last year. Mike is a very healthy guy, so when I was determining our stops for the night I tried to find a place with an IHOP to corrupt his lifestyle. I am also a Holiday Inn rewards member so that figured into the equation. When it was all said and done we would stay in Charleston, West Virginia, then Wilkesboro, North Carolina, then Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for two nights.

I had hoped to stay at a Bluff Mountain cabin in Pigeon Forge like we did last year. I kept waiting for last minute specials that didn't come this year. Apparently business is better this year down there than last year. Fireside Chalets, the company we rented from last year, only wanted to sell three night blocks. I thought I might snag the Beautiful Views cabin that I've stayed in several times but it was eventually rented. I ended up getting a cabin in town very close to the one we rented on our Pigeon Forge weekend trip last year.

October 8

A trip in October has a couple of downsides. The days are short. The temperature is cold. The deer are active. Mike and I were meeting up the road at Jim Day's gas station as in trips past. It was dark and chilly (51 degrees) as I packed the bike. I rode the three miles to the gas station, fueled the bike, bought some pop, tea, and ice for the cooler.

Bedford, IN. 06:50. Mileage 46,493 - Before I even had my bike pulled to the side Mike had arrived. We talked for a bit...the pre-trip banter. He stowed his bag in the Dumpster. To the east you can just see a glint of day light. I love this time of day...although I rarely see it. Ha!

Once we left Bedford and dropped into the lowlands the temperature dropped into the 40s. Brrrrr. We both had heated gear on so it wasn't that bad, but it was a little chilly on my feet and legs as I was only wearing regular pants and tennis shoes. In a few spots the morning fog looked cool.

You can't wear sunglasses in the dark and we made it as far as Seymour before the sun threatened to pop over the horizon and blind us.

Versailles, IN. 8:42 - In what has become a tradition we stopped at the Versailles McDonalds for breakfast. Mike is very low maintenance, but he does like some coffee in the morning. It's nice to stop after you've covered some miles. Breakfast took 32 minutes according to my GPS. We sat at the same table as last year. I had a steak bagel. Mmmmmmmm.

The ride eastward from Versailles is pleasant and reminds me of coming home from getting the Goldwing I'm riding. The road is sweeping for a few miles before becoming straight. Train tracks parallel the highway and there are probably a couple hundred auto hauler railcars on a siding. It doesn't take long before US50 becomes four lane.

Soon we are riding through scenic Aurora and Lawrenceburg, with the now-closed Seagrams Distillery and a casino.

Crossing into Ohio we get on I-275 which almost immediately crosses back into Indiana then a couple miles later crosses the Ohio River into Kentucky. 24 miles farther we cross the Ohio River again into Ohio. We'll be turning on US52...also known as the Ohio River Scenic Byway. Surprisingly, US52 was 4-lane. Something else we noted quickly was the proliferation of power generating stations.

Cruising down the highway Mike pulled alongside and pointed to his fuel tank. Message understood. I had started with a full tank but Mike used about 45 miles worth getting to Bedford from where he lives. We stopped on the outskirts of New Richmond.

New Richmond, OH. 10:27.

Passed New Richmond US52 became the 2-lane we expected.

Like most roads following water, you only catch a river view about 20-25% of the time. The rest of the time trees seem to block the view.

Ripley, OH. 11:22.

When we got to Ripley I pulled over to shed the heated jacket. I knew if I was getting uncomfortable Mike would be too. He has no body fat so he is less tolerant to temperature change. Ha! Here he is peeling off some gear with a drive-thru liquor store to the right.

Since our last trip Mike has also gone to the darkside and now uses a car tire.

It felt good to shed the gear. The temperature was now in the mid-60s. Not that hot, but even at that temperature the sun from the cloudless sky can make it feel warm. It was really nice to be on the bike trip. No worries. No where to be for days. Just enjoying the road, the barns, the houses, the towns, the river, the bridges, and the abundant generating plants in beautiful southern Ohio.

Sandy Springs, OH. 12:16.

An hour or so later I needed a new drink from the cooler so we pulled over in a little park area near Sandy Springs. There was some sort of old cistern there (that didn't work) and some outhouse style restrooms. A stretch felt good. It was a little after noon. I asked Mike if he wanted to eat when we got to Huntington and he agreed. After a 17 minute break we were back on the road.

Near Portsmouth US52 became 4-lane again and we made good time...when we weren't getting stopped at lights. Portsmouth, New Boston, Wheelersburg, Ironton, Ashland came and went.

The temperature was perfect.

Sometimes you couldn't see the river but a bridge would remind you it was there. I love the old girder railroad bridges.

When we reached Huntington we took US52 across the river to I-64 and up a couple exits to a place I was familiar with from previous trips.

Huntington, WV. 14:04.

We got gas here then went across the road to Arbys. I ordered a sandwich and potato cakes but got potato bites. Mike enjoyed them. We spent over an hour here just hanging out and enjoying doing nothing. When we finally left we headed into town, passing Marshall University (of "We Are Marshall" fame), and across the 527 bridge back into Ohio...getting another river view.

From here OH-7 becomes the Ohio River Scenic Byway.

For a ways there were some good 'look down' views of the river. We were treated with plenty of fellow motorcyclists, farms, and even an old Mail Pouch barn.

Eureka, OH. 16:14.

Several times following the river I've seen signs for locks and dams. I'd be interested to visit one but I don't see the signs until we are driving by. Looking up the river I saw something coming up so we stopped. This is the Robert C. Byrd lock and dam. A very impressive sight. I love the size and the mechanicalness of the thing.

They had an informative paper showing how all the locks on the river came into play. A guy who was cutting grass across the street came over to look at my trailer and talk Goldwings for awhile. He has a 2001. He also said they are planning to convert this dam to hydroelectric.

After a nice break we headed north along the river enjoying more bridges and power plants.

After passing through Pomeroy OH-7 veers north, so we turned onto the most fun road of the day, OH-124. For a while it runs right next to the river. It goes through some small towns and passes a hydro-electric dam, as well as the more traditional power plants.

The short fall days were becoming apparent as the sun dipped in the sky, and the shadows got longer. Near Ravenswood we crossed the Ohio River one last time for the day and entered West Virginia.

I love this picture...bridges, river tugs, railroads. We just came across the bridge.

From here it was a couple miles to I-77. Mike is still behind. It is 46 miles to the hotel so we cranked it up to interstate speeds. We've ridden the scenic part of our ride for the day and now it's time to cover some ground and get to the comfort of the hotel...hopefully before it gets dark.

For awhile we followed another group of bikes. I had never approached Charleston from the north. As we came into town I recognized some features from our 2008 trip...the gold capitol dome, the market we visited, the Kanawha River.

The GPS led us to the hotel but there was a problem. They were having a festival and the road was closed off about a block before the hotel. We detoured around to the other side. The parking lot was full of festival stuff so we pulled into the parking garage. I had it in my mind that we were staying at the Holiday Inn Express. The parking attendent said it was several blocks west. Hmmmmmm. We took off that way but that didn't seem right. We pulled over and I checked my confirmation. We are staying at the Holiday Inn so we were at the right place to begin with. Guess I had a brain fart. We headed back and wove our way through the crowded parking lot. I checked in and we parked the bikes in the parking garage.

After going to our room and washing up a bit and getting settled we decided to check out the festival. It seemed to be based around a car show that spanned several blocks. There were lots of nice cars. It was a nice setting for a festival...the nice fall weather and right next to the Kanawha River. We walked up one side of the cars, I bought a funnel cake, and we walked down the other side to the hotel. By now the exhibitors were shutting down for the night so we headed to our room.

I did my nightly computer stuff, took a shower, and went to bed. About 4am the greasy hunk of batter that was the funnel cake came back to haunt me. Note to self: remember that next time I want a funnel cake late at night.

430 miles.

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