2016 Mountain City Motorcycle trip

Day 1

Last year on our Maggie Valley trip we had a great time riding with Pat & Christy Countryman from Texas. When we started planning our 2016 trip we had initially considered going to the Ozarks so Pat & Christy wouldn't have to ride as far to meet us. When John mentioned this Pat said not to plan a trip on their account. Pat said riding to Indiana and riding with us to our destination was one of the things they looked forward to. With that in mind we started looking at other areas.

We had never been to the area around Galax, VA so we decided it would be a relaxing place to vacation. We found a nice house to rent next to a peaceful river. As time passed Pat & Christy decided they would be unable to attend due to employment issues created by Obummer-care. We also started having issues with the house we had picked out. The owner kept changing the date that we could arrive, so we decided to look for a different house. We found a nice place just outside Mountain City, TN. Plans were made and dates set.

As fate would have it I'd ridden through Mountain City twice back in 2010. Once on my trip to Cherry Point and a few months later on my fall trip with Mike Padgett. The area is where 'The Snake' is located on US421. My trailer chains bear the scars of two crossings. I remembered Mountain City as a nice little mountain valley town.

May 19

We are doing our traditional 'leave on Thursday night' thing. We'll stay the night in Berea, KY. We stayed there last year on our way home from Maggie Valley, and this past fall for a weekend craft fair/antiquing trip (no trip report for that one). Donna gets off work at 4p. I took off at 2:30 to get a few chores done and get the bike pulled around for packing. Imagine my surprise when Donna's garage door started going up at 3:15. She had gotten off work 45 minutes early! Donna had prepacked a lot of things so the trailer was loaded in no time. The loose plan is to meet at John & Debby's and leave as soon as everyone arrives.

Believe it or not, this is the first time Donna has gotten to ride this year, and she is ready to go. I've only ridden to work a couple times myself. The weather this year has been very cold and rainy. Lots of rain.

As we got on the bike to leave we looked back to see our dog Buford staring at us in the window. It made us sad to leave the little guy but 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. He'll get plenty of love and attention and spoiling.

Bedford, IN. 15:50, initial mileage 85,765 - My bike was low on gas and we needed ice and drinks for the cooler so we stopped at Revere's.

At 16:06 we arrived at the Potter's. The Kurdzioleks were already here. Some groceries were loaded into my trailer.

John is sporting a new trailer this year. He modelled it after Pat's trailer. Mike is going to build one like John's if he can sell his old one. Want to buy Mike's trailer? Contact John for details.

At 16:19 the bikes were fired up and the vacation began.

Thanks to Donna getting off work early we were already on I-65 by 17:08. The weather has been unseasonably cold lately. Today is no exception. We are all wearing our Phelons jackets. Donna is wearing two jackets.

Last week the weather outlook for this week didn't look so good. Rain. Fortunately the weather has improved. There are still chances of rain this weekend but we'll take it as it comes.

I noticed the next indicated turn on my GPS was I-71. That was in Louisville. Why wasn't it routing us to our restaurant? Apparently I had never programmed it into the route. When I developed the routes for the trip I had compatibility issues with the old Mapsource program I use and the latest 2017 maps. Mapsource kept crashing when generating routes. So, I begrudgingly used Basecamp to replot all my routes. Apparently I had left the restaurant stop out of today's route. I wasn't 100% sure what road it was on so I manually searched and plotted a course to the restaurant as we sped down I-65.

In a related story, I have a 'new to me' laptop this trip. Basecamp requires Windows 7. Instead of trying to install Windows 7 on my old laptop I bought a newer one on Ebay. Nothing special, but it has a solid state drive and it is super fast when booting up.

Since I got a new laptop I also bought a new case to carry it in. This case has lots of pockets and storage for all the electronics I take with me on trips...chargers, cables, extension cord, flashdrive, wireless mouse, etc. It is all stored in one place now.

Soon we were at Famous Dave's in Clarksville, IN. This has become our traditional supper spot when we leave for vacation. That might not be the case in the future. They've stopped giving out their traditional chips that everyone loves to munch on. In fact, they've stopped making them altogether. We all agreed their regular food isn't as robust as it used to be. Next year we might have to try somewhere different.

I-65 crossing the Ohio River is in a state of upheaval. They built a new bridge for northbound traffic and are now rehabilitating the old bridge for southbound traffic. In the past you crossed the bridge and dropped down onto I-64. Simple. Now it is a mess. You have to continue south through Louisville and take one of the expressways eastward back to I-64. It added about ten unexpected miles to our trip. We hate driving in Louisville anyways. Everyone seems to think they are a rude racecar driver.

Waddy, KY. 19:32, mileage 85,902 - We stop at our normal Loves truck stop. Plenty of gas pumps and nice restrooms. We bask in the glow of the start of vacation. Our next stop will be the motel 72 miles away. There is a full moon lurking in the evening sky. I like full moons.

We've been this way many times so things looked familiar. The large rocks cuts near Frankfort. Signs for the various bourbon distilleries. Crossing the Kentucky River. The congestion around Lexington. Last year we were heading into questionable weather. Today it is beautiful. It's nice to be getting away with Donna.

Several miles from Berea John radioed me and said Mike had lost his trailer lights. Not a big deal...Mike changed positions and rode between us. We'll look at the issue when we get to the motel.

We arrived at the Motel 6 at 21:00 with a nice sundown. We checked in and went to our rooms. The first thing Donna noticed was a nasty toilet. She talked to the manager and we moved to a better room. Go Donna!

For years John's job required him to travel a lot to promote nutrition magazines. A side benefit of this was he earned a huge amount of Holiday Inn points. Such much so that we always stayed for free on our trips. A couple years ago he changed to a position that didn't require much travel. His points have pretty much dried up so now we're are staying at motor lodges and inns. They are cheaper and we like the external doors. It also seems a little old fashioned...like us.

I've always liked staying at motor inns. Pull up to the door and walk in. No lugging your luggage forever. Convenient. The trick these days is finding one that isn't of poor quality. Bed bugs and smells and poor cleaning are a concern. You'd think there would be some place on the internet to find nice mom & pop hotels but I haven't found any. That would be a great job for me. Riding around the country checking out motels and motor inns. Anyone want to finance me?

After we were settled in our rooms we started looking at Mike's trailer lighting problem. I used my multimeter to check his trailer plug. Apparently I don't have a test light in my kit. I didn't get any voltage output from the running lights or turn signals. His ground wire was the only thing that checked good. Mike had his key on while we checked his trailer plug. He turned it off while we pondered the issue. When he turned the key on he had nothing. His bike was completely dead. Uh-oh.

John thought he might have a loose connection at the battery so we pulled his side cover. That's when we noticed another issue. The previous owner had replaced the normal motorcycle battery with a tiny battery. It was so small they had placed foam strips around it to take up the extra space. The connections were also loose but tightening them didn't help anything. I read the battery voltage. 3.08 volts. Hmmmmmmmm. The battery was good and dead. Was the crappy baby battery causing his trailer problems? Could his alternator not be charging correctly?

We could see a Tractor Supply down the road. They might have the proper battery for Mike's bike. There wasn't much we could do now so we decided to sleep on it and attack the problem again in the morning when we could see what we were doing.

209 miles.

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