Trip days: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-9 | 10-12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
The day wasn't looking so hot when I flipped on the Weather Channel this morning. They were saying that much of Chatanooga was under 3 feet of water and that there was a monster thunderstorm and possible flooding across the center of Tennessee around Nashville. Just great, that's where I was intending to ride today. Looking out the window of my hotel room you wouldn't think the weather situation was so dire though. Mostly clear skies and plenty of sun in every direction. Hmmm. Ah well, forget about it, forget about it. I packed up and got onto I-40 and resumed heading east to Memphis, braving the possibility of so called inclement weather.
I stopped off at Graceland in southern Memphis to get some grub at the "Rock and Roll Cafe" in front of the Heartbreak Hotel. The employees seemed must have been all Elvis'ed out because they had some classic rock station on the radio playing Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd, et al. Understandable I guess. I sat at the rail and ordered a "Blackened Chicken Sandwich" with fries, sounded interesting and it turned out to be quite good.
I left Memphis on I-40 and almost imediately veered off onto highway 64 up to highway 100 heading east. Lots of deciduous trees began appearing on highway 100. Towering on both sides of the road, really tall deciduous trees loomed over the two lane highway and a nice warm sun shown down on me. The humidity was lessening too, thank god. I started to see the effects of the flooding in central Tennessee. All the rivers had run their banks and there was at least 3 or 4 feet of water rushing over the forest floor up to the edges of the road. At Parsons I turned onto highway 412 east through Linden and Hohenwald over to Columbia, the home of the 11th president of the U.S. whoes name I can't remember right now.
Southern Tennessee really appeals to me. It has a lot of pacific northwest feel to it. Nice rolling hills, really lush and green, great roads twisting around and over the hilly countryside. Really great roads, perfectly smooth. Actually, I would have to compare central Tennessee to the stretch of highway 9 from Van Zandt down to Sedro Woolley in Washington. Just great. But in Tennessee it's that way for hundreds of miles across the central/southern portion of the state.
I was suprised to find myself serenly cruising along and not taking advantage of this supreme motorcycling environment. Southern/central Tennessee has so much natural beauty that I had no desire to rush through it. I just kicked back and took it all in. Very relaxing, especially on a motorcycle. This is what motorcycling is all about: Enjoy the ride. I have found with motorcycling that everywhere I go has so much more meaning to it on a bike. You get all the smells good and bad, you get the temperature changes of every gully and crest, you have a view unfettered by the hood and a-pillars of an automobile, and of course you have the excitement of riding a 2-wheeled machine in the manner you choose.
I pointed north on highway 31 out of Columbia and then went east on highway 840 to Murfreesboro. From there I zigged and zagged over to Watertown and then followed highway 70 east from there to Crossville where I got a hotel room for the night. For the last 100 miles the clouds moved in, but the sun shown through in places and created an intoxicating aura in the low hills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Quite magical.
Again, for the second day in a row, I managed to deftly dodge tornadoes, thunderstorms, washed out roads, and baseball sized hail. And yet again, no rain and it was comfortably warm and sunny 90% of the time. I'm hoping for a nice say again tomorrow so I can ride the Great Smoky Mountains and the famed Deal's Gap (highway 129) that is famed for its 11 mile section that features 318 turns.
Total Mileage for Day: 412
©2003 John Meloy <email@example.com>