April 10 - 11, 2015

An Unexpected Adventure

April 10, 2015
  It's been a bit tough as my sister and I have dealt with my late mother's affairs. I have not taken a Saturday off since the 2nd day of January, so this is really my first real ride of any distance this year. There's an uneasiness in my gut but I can't quite place the why of it. I double check Frost to make sure things are as they are supposed be. She's got fresh oil and fresh tires and I'm packed. Maybe it's just 'first trip jitters', but I will proceed cautiously just to be sure.  
  Since I have a bit of time today, I am traveling by a less than direct route. I'm headed out by the Narrows of the Harpeth, then up 250 to 49 to one of my favorite places for breakfast in Erin, Tennessee. I'll manage a run up 232 then the Trace at LBL then over to the Cave in the Rock ferry.  
  Highway 250 is one of those hidden gems of a road that never gets mentioned in motorcycle magazines - which is fine by me.  
  It dead ends into highway 49 which is also a lovely bit of tarmac.  

I don't know how many times I've made this route, but it is still a delight for me to ride it. Not soon enough for my stomach, I arrive at my breakfast destination in Erin - Irish capital of Tennessee.

  Fitz's is one of those local places that knows what real grub is and the waitresses treat you like an old friend. I love their sausage so I get a double dose - an omelet with it and side order too.  

I make short work of it, then settle up and head out. Erin is pretty much still waking up when I come through.

  Soon I'm out at the 49/147 junction and a left will take me to 232 - one of my favorite local rides.  
  Highway 147 ain't bad ...  
  but 232 is the real deal. I even have a video of one of my runs up it.  
  But 232 comes to end too soon, so I hang a right and make my way towards the Trace and the Land Between the Lakes.  
  It's really nice as I have the Trace pretty much all to myself.  
  The redbuds and the dogwoods are just starting to display all their glory.  
  It's just a good day to be out and about, enjoying the views. Off to my right I see a very pretty house that someone has been taking good care of. I really appreciate folks who spend their time and money preserving what is left of the history of our land.  
  My next stop is the ferry at Cave in the Rock. Although the water is pretty high, they are still running the ferry and for that I am thankful. It's a long run to find the closest bridge across the Ohio River from here - having had to do that once before.  
  The water is actually across the bottom of the ramp but I'll be fine if I'm quick.  
  The ferry is on the other side, but the wait's not too long and soon I'm on my way across the mighty Ohio.  
  Now I'm in the happy land of Illinois - pronounced 'Illi - noi' not 'Illi - noise' as I once learned.  
  Highway 1 takes me to highway 130 which takes me to my accommodations for the evening.  
  I unload Frost so I'll have space to store my gear at the restaurant and then I head that way. Richard's Farm is where the Moonshine Supper is held every year and they know how to do cooking right.  
  I'm early which is the way I prefer to be, so I get my choice of parking spots. Jason, who heads up Moonshine after the passing of Terry, and Jody arrive with a trailer full of stuff. Since I'd rather be useful than just ornamental, I help them get the T-shirts and some tables set up before the folks start pouring in.  
  I get the honor of sitting with many of my friends tonight, many of which I don't get to see and talk with very often.  
  There's always a special time when riders that have passed on the previous year are mentioned. Miss Carole does a really nice memorial for my old friend, Bob Donaldson, who we lost last year. Bob was a joy to be around and I still miss him and his many kindnesses.  
  Before you know it, it's over and I head back to the motel. It's been a good day of riding, relaxing and reminiscing, but little do I know what tomorrow holds for me.  
April 11, 2015
The Moonshine Store can get really crowded pretty quickly today, so I figure I'll mosey on out early. If I get bacon on my burger, then it fully qualifies as breakfast. I drop my keys off at the front desk and I'm off like a dirty shirt.
  It's a short run but looks like I have beaten the crowds ...  
  except a few folks who decided they would do the same thing. Steve and Bob get the first and second Moonburgers with Bones close behind them. I wander on in and place my order for a double bacon cheeseburger.  

While I'm waiting I get to talk to the 'proprietor' of this illustrious establishment, Miss Helen.

"You know, I used work in a store like this when I was a teenager. I got to oil the wooden floors with the mop" I tell her.

She tells me, "Well, if I pulled up the rug, that's what would be under it."

We talk about the difficulty of finding suppliers who want to deal with smaller stores and the difficulty of knowing what to order and such. Folks who have never dealt in that arena seldom have an appreciation for what goes on, but so it is with most things in life.

  Soon I'm good to go, so I get my burger and few other items and I'm ready to chow down. And yes, it is as good as it looks.  
  Soon the crowds start pouring in from several directions. Jason has got some volunteers to help with the parking this year, as it can get pretty busy up and down these narrow country roads.  
  Then Steve, Dave, and Bones tempt me above that which I am able to bear with their bowls of Amish pie and ice cream.  
  So I succumb and go fetch me some also. It's so good it makes my tongue want to beat my brains out.  
  But as the crowds continue to build, I decide it's a good time for me to get out of Dodge. I say good-bye to many of my friends and then I head back the way I came.  
  I figure if all goes according to plan, I should be back in the Holler around 3:30 - plenty of time to tend to what needs tending to. On my way through Newton, I stop and get a picture of the Burl Ives memorial. This is the town closest to his birthplace.  
  As I make my way out of Newton, I feel the front end of the bike act a little squirrely. I think I must have hit a patch of diesel or something. But then the Lord sets off a warning in my head and I begin to get that uneasy feeling that I had yesterday. I start slowing down and then it happens - the front tire completely looses all air. Now if you have never had that happen, consider yourself very fortunate. On a motorcycle, it gets quite interesting when it does. I manage to come to an orderly stop and see what is going on. Since there is no shoulder for pulling over, I very slowly manage to get the bike to the next driveway. I always carry my tire stuff, so I sit Frost up on the center stand and break out my portable air compressor.  
  I figure that will at least let me find the hole or the problem. As it turns out, the tire has no holes that I can see, which really makes me concerned. When I finally get the tire inflated, it does not look very pretty.  
  It's got more knots on it than a feller that came to a gang fight and his gang didn't show up. I'm currently right in the middle of 'nowhere' Illinois and don't know if I can even ride it in this condition. I decide my first step will be to go a little distance and see if the tire is going to hold air. I take off very slowly, as it feels like I am riding down the middle of railroad track, and I head for the next pull off. It's a not a pretty deal, but it seems to be holding. The next town, Albion, is about 8 miles away, but I figure it is my best bet if I can make it there. By the Lord's good grace, I limp into town and it is still holding. By now, I know it would be a bad thing to try to ride the 200+ additional miles to the house like this. If I try it, it will probably be sometime tomorrow at the speed I can travel. And that is assuming that the tire holds air and doesn't completely disintegrate. I know the interstate is some distance away, but there should be a truck stop there which would be a good place to stay while I get rescued. Plus it will be a whole lot easier to find me there. Some days, you just have to suck it up and go, so I do. Whenever someone comes from behind, I put on my 4 way flashers and wave them on. Needless to say, it is a less than pleasant ride of 11 more miles to I64 but by the Lord's mercy I manage to get Frost into the parking lot.  
  I call my lovely wife and my best friend, Dave, and let them know I will be needing a rescue. Dave brings his low trailer over to hook up to my truck. Then, my truck will not start because of a dead battery. Finally they are able to get that sorted and they are on their way. At least it is a lovely day and the truck stop has a nice sitting area where I can cool my heels and read my Bible. It could be much worse - if I had been going full tilt when the front tire gave way, I would probably be dead or at least in the hospital with the bike in a broken mess. It takes them about six hours to arrive, so I am a happy camper when they pull in. Dave and I get Frost on the trailer and strapped down, and we're off to the Holler.  
  This is only the second time I've had to trailer one of my ST1100s, so I consider myself very fortunate. We finally arrive back in Nashville around 11:30 PM - just a little later than I anticipated. But I am thankful to have me and my bike in one piece back in the Holler. Not exactly what I had planned for the day, but given what could have been I am extremely grateful to my Lord for protecting me on that lonely stretch of highway.