Part 1 - Retirement Road Trip 2010 a.k.a. .........
My "Forrest Gump" Ride

Adventure Story Road Trip Background     Retirement became a reality for me this year but as fate would have it there was still some unfinished business to take care of before my retirement could get into full swing on the road with my 2004 Black Goldwing. My Son-in-law, David, had been tasked to deploy back to Iraq for a second tour and unfortunately it was right in the middle of the birth of their first child. Mom and Dad quickly pitched in and travelled from our home in Dover, Tennessee to Buckeye Arizona to help out our daughter, Jessica, with the new addition. Baby Travis Connor King was born on May 1’ 2010 and for the ensuing 4 months we helped our daughter, Jessica, nurture and care for him until Dad could return home. Thankfully that occurred in early September 2010 and by September 20th my special day had arrived. My wife, Yong, was flying back to Tennessee but I was taking the long way back on the bike. The plan was for me to have about 10 days on the road myself and then rendezvous with her back at our home in Dover, Tennessee and then we would both continue the journey on the open road together for at least the next month or so with no specific destination in mind. What follows is my personal journal of that trip and experiences on the open road……. Monday September 20’ 2010 - Day 1

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Leaving out of Buckeye Arizona today heading North on my Wing for parts unknown was a great feeling. I’ve finally been turned loose into the wilds of the open road. Heading out of Phoenix area at 1:00 p.m. heading North on highway 17 it was blue skies dotted with white puffy clouds and a temperature of 106 degrees. I was quickly up to Flagstaff and milder temps and took my first break at Sunset Crater just north of Flagstaff just off Route 89. From there it was up to Tuba City and then East over to Kayanta where I had wanted to stay for the night. As is occasionally the case on the road all the motels were booked up and I was forced to continue riding to find an available motel room. This actually turned out to be a good thing as it gave me the opportunity to ride through Monument Valley right at Sunset and Moonrise. This turned out to be an awesome combination as the constantly changing colors danced happily along the rims and peaks as I cruised on through. The moon rose about that same time and gradually took charge over the night skies as the Sun turned its attention to our friends on the other side of our world. This much beauty truly makes the soul sing and I was humming right along with it. It’s been said that “4 wheels moves the body and 2 wheels move the soul” I couldn’t agree more…. being on two wheels can't help but make your soul sing. It sure does mine good.
 
Tuesday September 21’ 2010 – Day 2

    Up early at the motel I meet two other bikers travelling on the road. One guys name is Glen. He’s riding a BMW and is heading to the Phoenix area. He was curious about the Goldwing’s center stand. I guess center stands aren’t’ standard on BMWs. Matt was a Harley rider. He had left San Francisco about 3 weeks ago and is just enjoying the road with no destination in mind. He had just recovered from a flat tire the other day. We chatted for awhile and then it was time to mount up and head out. I followed route 160 East for most of the day going through Durango and Pagosa Springs. Sure miss the 100+ degree temps in Phoenix …. NOT. I have travelled this way before in the other direction a few years back and it’s a nice ride. I decided to take a slight detour South to ride the “Highway of Legends” that took me the back way into Trinidad, Colorado where I’m resting tonight.

Wednesday September 22’ 2010 – Day 3

    I was up early and departed Trinidad at 4:05 a.m. Mountain time heading for Kansas City to visit a few friends. Now I have to admit I wasn’t particularly looking forward this leg of the journey because if you don’t know it yet Kansas is about as flat as a pancake and the winds that blow across it are legendary. I was not disappointed. The winds howled all day long and the road was pretty much straight and true. The only highlight came when I met Francis Forbes (no relations to Steve Forbes as he pointed out) while having coffee at McDonalds. He came right up to me at the table and asked if that was my Goldwing parked outside. Once I said yes and he said that he had a 2001 Goldwing we were instant buds and he sat down with me and we had a good chat. He lived in Ulysses, Kansas and seems like a great guy.

I eventually made it through boring flat Kansas to Kansas City but not without a reminder to always be alert. On a long stretch of road that you can see forever I look ahead to see a Semi in my lane heading straight for me. He was trying to pass about 3 cars and obviously didn't see me. I slowed quickly and began moving to the shoulder. About that time the other cars he was passing saw me and slowed to allow him to reenter his lane which he did. A scary reminder that we all make mistakes. Always be alert.

Spent evening with friends and had a great time. So nice to have those people in your life that you can truly call friends. People that accept you for who you are and in turn provide you with an inner peace that make you feel instantly comfortable and welcome. There are so few refuges these days from the hectic world we live in and having friends makes all the difference in the world. My special thanks to George and Jean Smith that provided me a place to hang my hat for the evening. Also my best to Robert, John and Ken for coming out to share a beer with me. Now it’s on to St. Louis to see even more friends

Thursday September 23’ 2010 – Day 4

     Moving on down the road to St Louis I was looking forward to visiting Matt. He has wanted a motorcycle for so long and finally got his hands on a Harley 2001 Road King not to long ago. This would be my first chance to take a ride with him on his own bike. I got there by early afternoon and after catching up on old times at his daughters tennis match and attending a Road Riders for Jesus meeting we planned a short one day ride for Friday. Fortunately Matt had taken the day off for Friday. I'm resting here tonight thanks to more wonderful friends.

Friday September 24’ 2010 – Day 5
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Friday begins with showers but it's the good kind. You know the ones. They come in the overnight or early mornings hours and are usually gone by mid morning. Such was the case as Matt and I fired up and headed out. Matt was leading and I was glad to follow for a change and just enjoy the ride. We rambled around and road mostly South West of the St. Louis area visiting Meramec Springs ---->

Nice winding roads. Enjoyed Lunch and did some walking and talking. About 330 miles put us back home for pot roast by evening.

Leaving tomorrow morning ... maybe North, South, East ... not sure. Matt we will plan a road trip together maybe next year ... that would be cool. Marcia thanks for inviting me into your home.


 
Saturday September 25’ 2010 – Day 6

     And the winner is .... North then South to Eureka Springs. Weather being the deciding factor although throughout the Midwest it seems to be a good day everywhere. Did something today I had heard about and always wanted to do. There was part of the highway that involved crossing a toll bridge to get across around the Ozark lakes. At first I didn't want to pay it and almost decided not to go that way. However, I decided to go and it was $ 2.50. I came to the gate and remember about a gesture to pay the guy or gals toll traveling behind me. Seizing on the moment. I gave a $ 5.00 bill and toll the attendant to use it for the car behind me. As I rode away I had this  wonderfully strange tingly feeling. Feels so good ....just like riding all day ... hurts so good. Speaking of which .... I cruised on down to Eureka Springs arriving around 5:00 p.m. ... quick check-in to the Iron Horse Motel and dinner. I took a quick jaunt around route 187 that had a wood suspension bridge to cross in Beaver.pasted-graphic-3
Very cool. Needing to rest my derrie-air and with the cooler temps and clouds here in Eureka Springs Arkansas I'll be taking my first time out from the road. Resting in Eureka Springs tonight and tomorrow

 
Sunday September 26’ 2010 – Day 7

    Cool  temps and clouds all day here but looks good for tomorrow and beyond. Thinking of hitting the Natchez Parkway and doing the entire length to get back up to Nashville Tennessee area and home to pick up the wife around Thursday. That is after I have a full day of just riding around Eureka Springs area of course. That will probably take place tomorrow. Today little football and relaxation. Tomorrow the pigtail trail and circles around Eureka Springs before heading south to lower Mississippi and hook up with Natchez Parkway. Here's a blurb on what it is in case you didn't know .... I didn't up to a little while ago.


The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history.  Used by American Indians, "Kaintucks", settlers, and future presidents, the Old Trace played an important role in American history.

Cool.... I've traveled it once before it's definitely worth a second run.

Monday September 27’ 2010 – Day 8

    This morning the rain had moved out and even though the temps were cool in the morning by midday it was approaching the high 60's to low 70's ... perfect riding and exploring weather. Seems like every time I come to Eureka Springs I find some new road or attraction that I didn't know was there. I found a wooden suspension bridge on route 187 just North West of Eureka Springs and then Indian Creek Park North of Beaver Dam that were really great spots. I hung around Eureka springs and did a circle around Beaver Lake until about 1:00 p.m. before heading down the Pig Trail and South towards Natchez Parkway. Took highway 7 below Russelville Arkansas to go through the Ouachita National Forest. Highway 7 is a scenic byway and was a wonderful road but busy at times with slow cages to deal with. Resting in Malvern Arkansas tonight.
 
Tuesday September 28’ 2010 – Day 9

    Up early and still heading south to get to the beginning of the Natchez Trace parkway. Figured about a half day should get me to Natchez, Mississippi and then I'd have the afternoon to start enjoying the parkway. Blue skies and mild temps were the rule again today. If I was to draw a comparison between what this means to a surfer ... I would say it means the same as catching the perfect wave. No better feeling to than to throw your leg over a rocket each morning and then surf that perfect wave all day.... everyday. Once arriving in Natchez I filled the belly up, grabbed a few snacks, a full tank of gas and I was off along the parkway. I got a call today while riding from my best friend in California, Russ. We talked for quite awhile and I was explaining about my ride. I almost feel like this is my Forrest Gump Ride ... kind of like what he did in the movie when he just started running and didn't stop for the longest time. Guess I'll just keep riding on the road until one day I get up and say ...ok ... that's enough. I don't see that day coming any time soon but it's possible. I eventually turned off the parkway in Jackson, Mississippi and spent the night there resting.

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Tomorrow would be heading home to Dover, Tennessee for a quick pit-stop before continuing the journey together with the wife. Wednesday September 29’ 2010 – Day 10      Little more of the Natchez parkway in the morning and then I broke off to head up North to get home to Dover, TN. I made it there around 6:00 p.m. So weird pulling into my driveway having been gone for the past year in Buckeye Arizona with my daughter. My wife had flown back, so she had been home for about a week, and had a nice honey do list waiting for me that included cutting the grass. Ouch ...knew there was a reason I didn't want to come home. Covered 3,667 miles so far and it was time to change the Oil and wash the dirt from those miles from the bike. Tires are still looking good with about 4,000 miles on both front and rear since leaving Arizona. They should last about another 6,000 miles. Will probably have to replace them while on the road this time but will have to wait and see. Thursday September 30th - Friday October 1' 2010 – Day 11 & 12      Home only 1 day and I'm already restless to get back on the Road. Got the bike cleaned up and oil and filter changed. Time to pack again and get ready to roll out on Sunday. Working on web page and links for my trip. Learning as I'm going so hopefully will get all that worked out soon to send the link out. I hope once I get the web page setup I can add a link to hit from the my map page on Spotwalla. Saturday October 2’ 2010 – Day 13 Ok ... think I’ve got my web page up and running. Here is the direct link http://web.me.com/donnielewis There is also a link to my home web page from my Spotwalla page below. http://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=20304ca295004cff5 Right now it’s listed in the left hand pane and says “associated URL”. If you click that it will take you to my web page so you can read the day’s write up and see pictures Sunday October 3’ 2010 – Day 14 As Yong and I rolled South West this morning out of Dover Tennessee free as a bird it was easy to reflect on what a wonderful blessing it is to be healthy and to have the opportunity to retire and travel on a motorcycle on the open road... a dream I’ve always had. I’m so thankful to be living it and I remember and give thanks for that every day I take a breath. It was definitely Fall temps this a.m. and now we really were beginning to miss the oven that is Arizona. The weather on the open road is pretty much what you get and that could be anything at anytime and today a cold front was swooping down and we could feel it. Felt sorry for Yong as this was our first day together on the road for this trip but she eventually toughen up and by afternoon glimpses of the Sun shone through and our attitude picked up. We zigged and zagged down across the Tennessee River and through Cleveland and hit the Highway I was looking for. I had read about a road I wanted to try down that way ...74 that travelled along the Ocoee River. It was a very nice curvy road and it wound around the river. Think it was the old Copperhill Road and there were many spots to park and picnic right next to the river. In addition, it was cool to see the large number of people doing the White Water Rafting down the river. We were cold just watching them.

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When we got to Ducktown we discovered another great road that forced me to decide that we should explore a little of Georgia. A state I have not ridden in very much. If you’re a motorcyclist you need to check out Highway 60 in Georgia from Copperhill, Georgia and take it down to Dahlonega, Georgia. It cuts through the middle of the Chattahoochee National Forrest and I swear it will wear you out. Lots of twisties ... up and down. In fact, where we are resting tonight (Dahlonega, Georgia) there are tons of great roads all around us. We may have to explore the area here some tomorrow before heading back north to get on the Cherohala Skyway starting at Tellico Plains, TN and then on to the Dragon’s Tail. However, if this cold weather holds up we reserve the right to head south straight to the Florida Keys in search of warmth. Here’s hoping for an Indian Summer for the North East. I almost feel like a feather blowing in the wind ... Monday October 4’ 2010 – Day 15 Ok .... make that ... I feel like a feather blowing in a “cold” wind. Today started off great clear skies but the further we travelled North and up in elevation the cooler it got (imagine that) ... mix in a pretty cloudy and windy afternoon and you got a day like the one we experienced today. It wasn’t a bad day but more of a sad day. No Sun and everythings just seems so dreary. Nevertheless we pressed on and traversed some additional roads in Georgia as we went back up highway 60 and darted off on Highway 180 followed by Highway 348 .... Scenic by ways that were truly beautiful roads to ride as well. We basically took the long way back up to North Carolina then eventually back to Tennessee and North to Tellico Plains where we picked up the Cherohala Skyway by early afternoon. We stopped by the river and had our lunch waiting and hoping the sun would pop out. At one point along the Skyway the temps dropped to about 38 degrees .... Burrrrrr. I could tell exactly how cold it was because I have a thermometer that sits on my back seat and hits me over the head and says “I’m cold” Fortunately temps rose as we came back down the mountain and my thermometer stopped complaining

pasted-graphic-7 pasted-graphic-8 pasted-graphic-9 We met Tom and Jackie today while having breakfast at the hotel. They were from the Daytona area of Florida and were riding a Suzuki. He was commenting on the fact that he only had a limited amount of days left in his vacation to ride before having to go back to work. Man I remember those days. So much different now with having retired and riding. We talked for a while and I found it interesting that several places that he told me he wanted to visit for completing his bucket list I have already visited. Kind of made me feel good in a weird sort of way. I don’t have a bucket list do you? Why do we need bucket list anyway? Seems like time could be better spent doing.

4,278 miles so far this trip 199,002 miles on the bike ... rapidly approaching 200K Today’s route ...as you can see we did hit the Dragon’s Tail as well ..Always a challenge. pasted-graphic-10 Go To Top or Click here for Part 2 to continue ... Back to Road Trips