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Thread: 10 Days, 3500 Miles, Through CO,KS,OK,AR,TN,NC,VA,KY,OH,IN,IL,IA,MO,NE & Back

  1. #1

    10 Days, 3500 Miles, Through CO,KS,OK,AR,TN,NC,VA,KY,OH,IN,IL,IA,MO,NE & Back

    Had three trips east I needed to take brewing between the ears. Needed to attend meetings at the company HQ. Wanted to see my ailing dad. Wanted to see a special friend.

    Sometimes the stars align, the whales migrate on time, and everything falls into place. A small idea germinates. A little nurturing and the idea grows. Eventually there is fruit. Gonna do it. Gonna take a big bike trip. Instead of flying east high above the clouds two or three times gonna fly lower on two wheels and combine it all into one memorable trip.

    Returned two days ago. Here's a few words and a few pics from each day.

    DAY #1
    Ready to depart. The bike is loaded. One sidecase holds company work. One sidecase holds the clothes. The topcase holds all the bike contingency stuff...

    Pausing near the Kansas border at the Colorado town of Holly. A lethal tornado blasted a path two football fields wide through the heart of town the evening of March 30th. There was no warning. The trees look in a way like mutated palm trees...

    Perhaps the sentiments aren't shared with everyone but I found the high plains immensely beautiful. The colors and shades of colors had me wanting to pull over for pics at every rise. The fertile fields and those taking prideful care in their production leaves one impressed with a defining might of America... the bounty of food. This is north of Liberal, Kansas, the stop for night #1...

    DAY #2
    Perhaps it is anxiousness, the excitement. Up early to ride Oklahoma. Just after sunrise.

    30 minutes later the fog rolls in and the fog lights come on. Rain gear is slipped into. The town of Forgan...

    Have you been hearing about the rain in southern Kansas and Oklahoma? The previous pic was a preview of the day. You know, when one is warm and dry there's something special about a ride in the rain. Saw flooded fields and islands of homes from all the moisture as I scooted across northern OK. Paused here for a pic. The flooded ditch is streaming across the road and is about two feet deep in the one lane traffic is alternating for. Made it to Siloam Springs on the Arkansas border for night #2...

    DAY #3
    Had a delightful day spinning wheels across the Ozarks of northern Arkansas. Have done this many times. So good to see familiar c-stores, towns, etc. Pausing at Norfork Lake near Mountain Home. Probably have five bike pictures over the years at this stop. Memphis is the destination for the end of day #3...

    DAY #4
    Here's an unusual pic and an interesting story. This was the special friend I wanted to see. There's a television documentary about Clark on the Discovery Channel Times network this summer, airing numerous times through August. Here's a blurb:

    NDP has completed an hour on the baffling, maddening case of Clark McMillan, a Tennessee man who spent 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, insisting that he was innocent and that he knew the identity of the real criminal. To premiere June 12 on Discovery Times.

    Clark was my prisoner pen-pal for 14 years. The program is about Clark. I come onto the scene the second 30 minutes of the program. I would rent a bike out of Dallas and ride to see him annually at the prison. When he first noted his innocence early in our relationship my first throughts were along the line of, "Sure Clark, I know you're all innocent". But he maintained his innocence over the years and to make a long story short I started working with the Innocence Project out of NY and the TN government to secure DNA testing for my friend. In April 2002 he was exonerated. Set a record at that time for years behind bars and found innocent.

    Continue to see him as a freed man. Here I'm departing early in the morning after spending the night...

    The early 6:00a departure and cumulative effect of four days on the road had me pulling over to snooze for ten minutes on this Piggly Wiggly bench. BTW, somewhere in Alabama I believe there is a store called "Hoggly Woggly" right across the street from a Piggly Wiggly!
    Last edited by sfarson; 07-12-2007 at 05:48 AM.

  2. #2
    Day #5
    Have always wanted to ride the famed Cherohala Skyway and Deal's Gap. Rode the length of Tennessee and stayed in Athens. Up at the crack of dawn to see these two great roads. The day was July 4th and I had two fears: crowded roads and crazy riders... especially at Deal's Gap. So here I am all alone on the Cherohala. No one but me coming and going...

    Recorded ride vids of these two roads but similar vids are everywhere on the web. There isn't much diff. The GS ADV was a hoot. My dealer salesperson friend calls the 12GS "Squid Bait". Tis true. Really got a kick out of both roads. All enjoying curvy roads should experience them at least once... if just to personally note "Been there, done that". Still early in the morning. Perfect...

    Would note however, I had just as fabulous of time riding the curves of Hwys 70 and 421 north up through Virginia and into Harlan, KY where I stayed the evening of day #5.

    BTW, I lucked out for July 4th fireworks. They were staged right next to the Holiday Inn Express hotel! I wandered outside at dusk and saw 1000's of people parked on the side of the road, jammed into the hotel parking lot, gawking at the bike (Don't see many GS ADV's in Harlan, KY), etc. The fireworks were stupendous, with the added effect of booming echo's across the mountainous terrain. When I departed the morning of Day #6 I had to brush ash and debris off the bike from the close-by pyrotechnics!

    Day #6
    It is a rainy day off and on. I ride 421 north most of the day with rain accompanying. While the rain subsides here briefly, its effect causes a large tree to come crashing down the hillside. To the rescue comes a satellite TV installer who has a chain saw in his truck...

    Closer to Cincinnati and the destination for day#6 I pass through simply storybook beautiful horse farms. The road is KY 627 south of Paris, KY. The fencing, the barns, the pastures, the horses... it all comes together. See this road if in the area. Bring the camera and do a better job than I...

    I'm north of Cincinnati, almost to my sister's place. I'm racing an approaching storm coming in from the west. It's gonna be close, gonna be close... I lose. I find refuge in a construction area under an overpass and slip into the rain gear again. I'm tellin ya, this bike looks natural in such conditions...
    Last edited by sfarson; 07-12-2007 at 04:25 AM.

  3. #3
    Day #7
    Well, day #7 is a work day. My sister gives me a ride to downtown Cincinnati where she works as well. Terrific time at her place. Have a great brother-in-law. Thoroughly enjoyed my nieces. I can't get enough of playing with Taylor. Same with my four kids at home. You know, I'm basically a 15 year old inside a 50 year old body. Here's Taylor on the ADV and is the pic for Day #7. I leave for my dad's place shortly after...

    Day #8
    This will be a day never forgotten. Spent the night and day in Indianapolis. My dad was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He isn't permitted to drive anymore. My stepmom is pleased with my arrival and she takes off with the only car to go shopping. Well, we (I) wanted to go places and have a great time. Unbelievably he suggests taking the bike!?! I'm hesitant. He isn't so. I'm more confident if I can get him up on this tall bike with a bad leg (knee) he has. What am I getting myself into. Well, success! My dad hasn't been on a bike in probably 35-40 years. It is hilarious getting my helmet off and on him. We find a light jacket for this warm day and I take advantage of a no helmet law in Indiana. Would do it again. We ride all over the east side of the city and we explore where he grew up, seeing the house he was born in and where he lived while young. Will always remember this day. He was a perfect passenger. Pausing at his childhood place...

    I leave late on this 8th day to make it to Illinois for the night. Time to head back to Colorado. I take country back roads and pause at the place where I lived in high school. The high corn and leafy trees are hiding the place on the hill in the distance. Have never failed to come by and not see the place from this location. Have you ever noticed when you return to a place of your youth how big the trees have become and how short the distances are?

    Day #9
    Rising early in Danville I'm on a mission to get across Illinois and Missouri today. When I noted the impressive agriculture in Kansas above, the same is true for Illinois. The gold of Kansas is the green of Illinois. I pause when I see a crop duster. Now to this Rocky Mountain boy this is a totally cool sight. I pull over to watch this artist paint the fields. Can you see the plane banking in the distance?

    I just watch and watch. I turn the movie mode of the digital camera on and record a pass:

    Impressive and nimble aircraft...

    BTW, the passersby on the highway either thought I was broken down or an oddity needing checked out so the sheriff came out to pay me a visit while I was parked watching the crop duster. They ran my ID to make sure I wasn't any kind of riff raff and while one was doing so in the car I explained to the other crop dusting was something I just didn't see everyday.

    Day #10
    I wake up in northwestern Missouri. Plans were to make it to western Kansas today but something in St. Francis, KS has me going all the way into the Rockies and home. More later.

    Once read a magazine article by an editor finding an interest in exploring abandoned dwellings and structures. Wouldn't say it interests me greatly but enough is there to stop on occasion and reflect at what I see. I pass an abandoned farmhouse in Missouri, make a u-turn, go up the driveway and walk towards the house...

    And I go inside. I walk carefully testing each step so as not to fall through. Rodent and bird evidence everywhere. The living room. There's a 1981 newspaper on the floor. How about that, a piano...

    The kitchen...

    A bedroom. Sheets, a mattress, and draperies?

    This visit was kind of creepy but one can't help but think and reflect upon the lives lived and spent here, along with thoughts of what happened.

    We cross the Missouri River into Rulo, Nebraska. I'm one of those 350-450 mile/day riders. I'm pausing all the time to read historical markers, get off the beaten path to see towns passed by the main roads, etc. The journey is the destination right?

    How about this... the night watch falling asleep and receiving lashes on the "bear" back. Guess a message had to be sent - "No falling asleep in Indian country!"...

    My ride across northern Kansas is Hwy 36, the Pony Express highway. One looks to the left and right from the saddle of the big BMW while flying down the highway and finds it difficult to imagine doing the same from the saddle on the four legged variety.

    I noted getting off the main highway. Did this a couple of times seeing semi-ghost towns. Like the home above, a touch of hesitation then reflection while considering the deserted past and changing times, then the decision to go forward and live with gusto. The town of Almena north of Hwy 36, just south of the Nebraska border...

    Well, I pull into St. Francis in far western Kansas around 5:30p for the night. I called the night before to make a reservation. Well, they goofed, putting me down for the following night. The place is booked. It is the only motel in town. I'm faced with an unplanned ride towards the setting sun and the loneliness of eastern Colorado. There ain't a place to stay along 36. But I find some new energy, sourced by the vastness and beauty of the place, and fly towards Denver. Here I pause at an service station in the small town of Cope, CO...

    And as I hit the outskirts of Denver, the sun bids farewell to day #10 as it slips behind the Front Range of the Rockies. It actually worked well not having a room in St. Francis. Was good to be home that night around 10:00p. There's still no place like home.
    Last edited by sfarson; 07-12-2007 at 05:54 AM.

  4. #4
    Very nice. Great pics. Can't believe your friend spent 22 years locked up. WOW.

  5. #5
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Exit 31, PA TPK
    Thanks for the great report. I agree with you about the beauty of the Plains. I'm taking my annual trip to Nebraska in a couple of weeks and always look forward to seeing that part of the country. I was recently in eastern Iowa for a meeting and extended my stay for a couple of days and rented a car to drive aimlessly through Iowa. I had a great time but I think my friends thought I was crazy.

    That's a great picture of your dad BTW.
    Current rides R75/5 R100RS R1150RT
    Past rides K100RS R1100S
    My Smugmug

  6. #6
    Registered User Rapid_Roy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Waukesha, WI
    Great report. You are lucky you didn't park your bike in a wheat field. That seems to really anger people.
    19 BMWMOA Nationals under my belt, and I have no idea what I am doing.

  7. #7
    sfarson - that was quite the big adventure you went on recently. I love the photos, especiall the first one of your GS. It's really well equipped for touring. I was born and raised in Illinois right across the river from St. Louis so I've covered a lot of the ground you rode in your Midwest adventure. Great report - Thanks.

  8. #8
    Thanks everyone. Yes, a great ride. Beauty found everywhere.

  9. #9
    Bill Burke
    Another winner Mr. Farson. Consider me a fan.
    There were two men in that piece that you gave a great gift to. Freedom.
    Good job. Good man.

  10. #10
    Rally Rat RGVILLA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Rural Valley, PA

    Thumbs up

    sfarson, thanks for the great ride report! I leave next Saturday, going from here thru WV,Ohio,Kentucky,Missouri,Oklahoma,the top of Texas and home to Albuquerque. After that North thru Colorado, Wyoming, Montana then east back to Pittsburgh. I hope I can do my trip the same justice you did yours. Thanks again.

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