July 9th. I have, for about a year now, been telling people my departure date was July 9th. So I wondered why, on June 21st, the first day of summer, all my possessions were in a storage locker, except for what was crammed onto my motorcycle, and I was heading south. I would be back in Milwaukee in a couple of weeks, but I was undeniably on the road.
Packing the bike had been more of a challenge than I had expected, and the result was my cold weather riding gear was left in storage to be picked up later. I would, in fact, be repacking the bike differently all the way to Georgia, and when I got there shipping stuff back to Milwaukee. But that wouldn’t be for a couple days.
I was on the road around 10, which I was happy with. I wasn’t in a rush. I pulled off at A&W, which I like, for lunch. While I was eating I remembered I had some prescriptions to pick up back in Milwaukee (Travel drugs, for Malaria and some Anti-biotics). So I turned back north and picked them up, then headed south again. It was now a little after noon.
I headed south through Chicago, I’d been hoping to get south of Indy on the first day, but with the delay for the drugs I wasn’t sure I would want to cover that distance. Getting through the mess of Chicago-land was accomplished without excitement (Well, I may have run a couple tolls but it wasn’t exciting), and I pulled into a Steak and Shake just south of Lafayette. The sky ahead was getting dark and I was having issues finding a camping spot, so I wanted to spend some time on the internet looking for a spot. What I found was a mass of yellow and red on the radar, heading more or less right at where I was stopped. Then the power went out.
Luckily my food was already cooked, and I paid cash. There was a Motel 6 right across the street. Prudence being the better part of valor I checked in. As it turned out all Lafayette got was a light rain, and I had sought shelter for nothing. I decided I wouldn’t do that again, and would camp regardless of the possible weather. There wasn’t always going to be convenient motel.
I had learned the day before that my GPS had the maps to the Southwest, from the Overland Expo trip. I had saved a file with the correct maps and set about uploading them in the morning while I packed up.
Day two I covered the remainder of Indiana and entered Kentucky. I decided to head for the Smoky Mountain National Park, and on the way passed near Corbin Kentucky. Since I like KFC I decided to swing past it’s historical birthplace. It was, in the end, just a KFC with a larger than average sitting area and some displays. It was also overrun is a children’s church group, and finding anywhere to sit was a challenge. I took a few pictures, but honestly it was probably the worst KFC I have ever had.
I passed into Tennessee and found camping in a state park. Rain was closing in again, and started just as I was inflating my mattress. I still wanted a fire, but was defeated by the wetness. The rain started coming out a little, well a lot harder actually. I couldn’t see across my campsite anymore, and a fine mist was making it into my tent. I was actually worried that my tent, seven years old, was starting to go bad. But the rain lightened up and the mist disappeared from inside. In fact after a couple hours the rain stopped and I felt much better about camping. I actually got out of the tent and took a short walk around the park. It was still overcast, so there were no stars to see, and I went back to bed and slept.
Morning came, overcast still, and I loaded up the bike. My tent was still wet, but I wasn’t worried. I was planning to be in Hartwell, GA that night to spend the weekend with friends. Yay for actual beds and showers.
But that was in the evening. On the way I passed through the Smoky Mountain National Park and stopped to enjoy the view.
The Smokies were very much living up to their name. I wandered around the Sugarland’s Visitors center for awhile,
and then headed further south.
The miles were passing by a little slower now, as I was on two lane roads, but I was almost there. I saw an antique mall and decided to take a break. It was actually huge and I wandered around for an hour or so. Found a Zoltar for sale, probably a good thing I don’t have the money for it right now. Owning a Zoltar would be awesome.
The rest of ride was uneventful. In Hartwell I tried the local BBQ place (which seemed to always be closed when I’ve visited in the past). The Q was okay, but they have a brunswick stew that was delicious.
Next, the party in Hartwell.