DAY RIDE 3/23/2019

A Little Ride Before The Ride

March 23, 2019
  The last few weeks have been a bit of a challenge since my wife fell and fractured her left femur. Since she cannot put any weight on that leg for fear of displacement, I'm the wheel chair captain back and forth to work. So my riding time has dwindled to nothing at this point. But today the weather looks to be nice, the chores are done, she is able to tend to what she needs to, so I'm out to get some wind in my ears. Andy Derryberry, my faithful friend and riding partner is ready to roll along with me.  
  Frost gets the duty today, since she has a pretty new set of radials for her dancing shoes. The route is simple - down roads we are both familiar with over to Beechgrove, the civil war site where the Battle of Hoover Gap occurred. In May I plan on retracing the steps of my great, great grandfather who fought for the 17th Tennessee Infantry and visit all the major battlefields in the order in which he 'visited' them. My desire is to stand where he stood and try to get a sense of what he faced at the young age of sixteen. I have been able to place his unit on most of the battlefields except this one. I know there is a sign with a map on it, and my goal is get a picture so I can locate his unit during the battle. I go my usual route to get to the Trace but I am a little sad when I pass here. There was a beautiful house here until the flood of 2010 damaged it. And like so many areas, I presume that the government would not let the owners restore or rebuild here.  
  The Trace is pretty clear of Spandex Traffickers and Mobile Phone Booths today and for that I am glad.
  We ride the 'better' part of the Trace (the upper end) down to Highway 50 in route to  
  one of the best kept secrets around - Highway 247. It is a delightful road with excellent pavement, little traffic, and twists and turns across the Tennessee landscape like an old snake on a hot rock.
  I sometimes lose sight of just how blessed I am with great motorcycle roads surrounding me and weather that means I can usually ride year round. But once I get on some of my old favorites, the pleasant memories and the smiles come back very quickly.
  Soon we find ourselves on Sugar Ridge Road, my happy path to Spring Hill. Spring Hill used to be just a small whistle stop, but when Saturn moved in, development sucked up most of the surrounding farm land. What were once quiet two lanes with cows now are the busy streets lined with McMansions and laden with soccer moms.
  We're in no hurry today since we only have to please ourselves, so we make a stop at the Bethesda Market. It's been in business since the late 1800s, but not in this building. It's a great country store with a good deli, and just about anything a feller would need from eating to fixing stuff.
  And they have a serious grill outside that you could cook a whole pig on if you were of such a mind.
  But we figure we'd best get back to the business at hand so I route us around the village of Eaglesville, once known for their determination to hand out as many performance awards as possible. My route skirts the town center down some lovely twisting backroads where seldom is heard a discouraging word or blue lights ever seen.
  Soon we arrive at our first intended destination - the Confederate Cemetery at Beechgrove. When the Confederate soldiers returned from the war, they saw that many of their fallen comrades who died in this battle had been buried in shallow graves - so shallow that sometimes their bones could be seen sticking up out of the ground. With very little resources since most of their homeplaces were destroyed during the war, they fashioned pine boxes and reburied fifty of them on this hillside. This became the first Confederate Cemetery created after the war. This very hill is where a strong contingent of Union troops, armed with the new Spencer Repeating Rifle, sent many Confederates to their eternal destiny that day.
  It is a solemn place of remembrance, and I quietly walk over and get a picture of the battle map. It shows where my great, great grandfather's unit was during the battle so I should be able to locate the spot with some help from current topo maps.
  With that bit of business tended to, the choice for a late lunch is obvious - The Bell Buckle Cafe. It's a little surprising to us, but they are covered up this late with folks still trying to get in. They tell us the wait is 45 minutes, so we just wander around looking in the various store fronts until our name is called. I notice that many folks that are called don't respond so I figure we may get in quicker than we thought. I guess folks that decide to walk off don't have the raising to tell the hostess that they have changed their mind. So we get in a lot quicker than expected which is just ducky with us.

I'm trying to figure out what I want, but Andy makes it easy -

"I'm getting their smothered pork chops today" he tells me.

I had forgotten about that superb culinary experience, so I follow his lead with the chops, fried okra, fried corn and coleslaw. It's pretty tasty to say the least!

  We manage to solve all the world's problems as we enjoy our food and our time together. But we figure we'd best give up our table so someone else can sit down before they start charging us rent. On the way back, we pass this field of what I call thrift - a beautiful wild purple flowering plant.  
  Since Andy lives east of me, he splits off soon to head for his house. I figure I'll take a similar path to the way we came across with a few new twists and turns tossed in. A run across PullTight Hill is always good on two wheels ...  
  as it is twisty going up ...  
  and twisty going down. It is the highest elevation in this county at 1,256 feet. The name comes from the fact that if a feller had a team pulling a wagon up it, he had pull the traces in tight to get them up and over it.  
  And the road drops you down into the teeming metropolis of Cross Keys. From here I work my way back to 246, then through Leipers Fork, down 96, up 100 and soon back to the Holler.  

And as usual, I get the 'biscuit inquisition' from the Queen of Biscuits, my Lady Bug -

"Well Dad, got anything for me?"

I tell her -

"No biscuits today, my dear. However, I did save you a dinner roll from Bell Buckle Cafe."

With that love offering, she is more than happy and wanders off to enjoy her treasure for the 10 seconds it takes her to devour it.

  It's been a great day of enjoying riding old roads with an old friend. I count myself a very blessed man to have both and the ability to enjoy them.