2015 Maggie Valley Motorcycle trip

Day 1

June 25

I've ridden through Maggie Valley, NC, several times enroute to somewhere else. It always seemed like a peaceful place. It's on the opposite side of the Smoky Mountain National Park away from the touristy-ness of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg but still close to many things. Occasionally groups on the motorcycle forums will have a rally there. Last year John & Debby took Kyle down there for a weekend prior to his enlistment in the Army. When discussing where to have this year's vacation it seemed like a great choice.

We are doing our traditional 'leave on Thursday night' thing. We'll stay the night in Corbin, KY. It's an ambitious 240 miles away but we should make good time on the interstate. Donna gets off work at 4p. I took off at 2:30 to run a few quick errands and had the bike pulled around front by the time she got home. Donna had prepacked a lot of things so the trailer was loaded in no time.

Last fall we got a new addition to our family. Buford Buchanan, the Jack Russell rat terrier. Donna is having mixed emotions about leaving him. He was watching us in the window as we left and pulling at Donna's heart strings. He'll be in good hands. Donna's daughter, Shanon, is staying at the house and will watch him. My mom and dad will also drop in to check on him when Shanon is working.

Grumpy Kitty is hiding under the bike. Is he trying to block us from leaving?

Bedford, IN. 16:27, initial mileage 79,286 - We stopped at Revere's for gas and ice. We are meeting at John's at 5p and leaving 30 minutes later.

There's a cool, interesting twist to this year's trip. Last year's trip report for Bowling Green included an invitation to ride with us. One thing led to another and this year we welcome Patrick Countryman and Christy Janak to our crew. They spent two days riding from Corinth, TX, to join us on this year's ride. It took about two seconds to realize they are an excellent fit with our group. Both are employed in the medical field and we have lots of things in common. Pat is also a computer/electronics nerd and you can't have enough of those!

Introductions were made. Stories were told. Good byes were said. Everyone basked in the 'start of vacation' excitement.

Pat's trailer is another connection we have. He used my trailer page as a starting point for his. I've always said if I built another trailer it would be longer, wider, and not as tall. Pat built my ultimate trailer. It was cool seeing it in reality.

Full of excitement, we left 20 minutes ahead of schedule. We hadn't gotten far when John radioed with an issue. He had some nasty trailer sway. Odd. He had test pulled it the other day and it was fine. He's pulled the trailer for last ten years and never had an issue. We pulled over and he & Debby repacked the trailer. We headed down the road but the sway was still there. The trailer was repacked again.

The only negative part of this trip is the weather forecast. It appears rain will be an issue for several of our allotted days. It sprinkled a little during the second trailer repacking and off/on as we headed to Brownstown.

The repackings didn't solve the problem. At about 60mph the trailer still swayed. We stopped at Huck's in Brownstown. We let some air out of tires and inspected them. They had some uneven wear from tens of thousands of miles of use. Could that be the problem?

I planned to take our normal IN250 route to I-65. However, a sign noted a road closure at Dudleytown. Plan B will to go via IN256. This route is 3 miles shorter but has more sharp curves.

IN39. The temperature is in the low 80's with the occasional dark cloud threatening. There were signs of previous rain here and there.

The road was even wetter on IN256. We passed a huge snapping turtle crossing the road. He could have easily taken a bike down.

IN256 is a straight road so I raised my speed to 59 mph. John said his trailer was doing fine. Every so often I'd bump the cruise control up another 1 mph. I never heard anything from John so I assumed the trailer was doing good. We had been on I-65 for several miles when John requested a speed decrease due to the trailer swaying. Crap. John's silence had not been golden. He was just putting up with the trailer sway but now it was about to make Debby sick.

John knew of a Harbor Freight in Clarksville. He said it was near Famous Dave's. He would get new tires to see if that was the problem. I found Harbor Freight on the GPS and plotted a course. It seemed to be several miles passed Famous Dave's though, so I asked John to say something if he thought it was leading us astray. A mile or so after passing the exit to Famous Dave's he said we were headed in the wrong direction. We took an off ramp and pulled into a parking lot to look up the address on a cellphone. It was on the Lewis and Clark Parkway. Donna and I had been near there a few weeks ago and the bread crumb trail was still showing on my GPS. We headed that way.

Donna noticed the Harbor Freight store. I thought it would have more noticeable signage. John purchased new tires/wheels and we quickly changed them out.

A couple in the blue SUV saw us changing the tires and pulled in to see if they could be of assistance. They are fellow motorcyclists. They offered to take the old tires for disposal. How kind! I'm always impressed about the comraderie among motorcyclists.

Famous Dave's was only a mile or so away so we were there in no time. We were ready to eat. They weren't busy at all so we got a big table immediately. It was nice feeding our faces with BBQ, conversing, and enjoying the start of vacation.

There is a massive amount of interstate road construction around Louisville. They are adding a new bridge and redoing the whole layout. We were blessed that traffic wasn't bad and we slipped through the mess quickly.

John radioed and asked to pull over at the first safe spot. One of Pat's trailer chains had came unhooked. When we pulled over John had more bad news. His trailer was still swaying. John used the pullover to work on his setup more. He unhooked the trailer and reassembled and retightened his trailer hitch and receiver. While he did this Debby repacked the trailer again. John also raised the pressure of his air shocks to 70+ psi.

When we got up to interstate speeds John had great news. The trailer is tracking like its old self! Time to hammer down.

Waddy, KY. 21:51, mileage 79,414 - Our gas stop for the evening.

It was almost 10p and we still had 125 miles to our Holiday Inn Express in Corbin, KY. We had a nice 3/4 moon to keep us company. As we passed Lexington and made the turn south we could see an impressive cloud lightning show to the south. Weather radar showed any storm activity to be ~50 miles south of Corbin so we enjoyed the show. It was a great ride. Four bikes motoring their way south through the darkness. Cruise controls on. Nice temperatures. My sweetheart to talk to and enjoy the trip with.

We were a couple miles from our hotel when Donna commented the clouds lit up by the lightning looked close. Almost on cue there were a few rain splats on the windshield then WHOOSH. A downpour. I apologize to the car in front of me but I had to use my highbeams to see. It didn't take long to reach the hotel and we pulled in a couple minutes before midnight.

After checking in the guys came back outside and parked the bikes in the rear of the lot. It was still sprinking. With vacation ahead of us and tummies full of BBQ we slept like babies.

240 miles.

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