Sunday, July 09, 2006

2006 Day 15

One last day to roll home. I've traversed these parts of Arizona and California enough that they have become familiar, and today I am prepared for the daylong heat of the eastern Cali desert. Yes I am lovin' this coolvest. I pull in mid-afternoon, glad to be safe and home. The aw-shucks sadness of the end of long road trip is easily assuaged by dreaming of the next ride. :)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

2006 Day 14

More I-40 westbound. Most of northern New Mexico is at a little bit of altitude so the summer heat is pretty bearable. I sort of think I am going to get as far as Williams or Ash Fork, but it's dusk approaching nightfall as I roll into Flagstaff AZ, and I opt to stop for the night. Even though the hotels are pricey, I'd rather pay a little extra than risk riding in elk country during crittertime.

There is a HUGE traffic jam in the opposite lanes right outside of Flagstaff, and I never do figure out what's going on. People are getting out of their cars so it must be a dead stop, all lanes shut down. I find a room quickly and check in before they can come back and snap up all the vacancies! LOL

Next: Day Fifteen

Friday, July 07, 2006

2006 Day 13

Westbound on I-40 for miles and miles and miles is pretty boring, but that's how I'm going home (this is what I get for choosing to go home in four days instead of five.) Stormy and I start off decently early, and reach El Reno OK by early afternoon, which is where we part company. Then, I hit the road and just keep going until the sun's going down and I reach Tucumcari NM. Long day.

Next: Day Fourteen

Thursday, July 06, 2006

2006 Day 12

Time to saddle up and head home. Stormy and I will ride together as far as Oklahoma, which will be a nice jaunt ... she and I ride well together. It's an uneventful day, just makin' miles westbound, and the rain is off and on but never heavy. I cover my T-bag with the rain fly, but don't bungee it down, and discover that if a loose rain fly flaps in the wind for a few hours, it'll tear itself to shreds like a flag in a hurricane. I borrow a bungee from Storm to correct it, but too late, the damage is done. Then, at the penultimate stop of the day, I forget to re-hook one end of the bungee after getting into my bags, with the predictable result of a bungee dangling from the sissy bar will get itself wound up in the rear wheel. We arrive at a hotel outside of Little Rock and I find the rear axle tightly wound up in what's left of the red elastic. Jeeeeez. Thankfully the only damage has been to the bungee itself, which has been dismembered and shredded. Coulda been much worse, I got lucky on that one. It takes a little time to get the remains out of the wheel. Jokes ensue about rubber-band-powered Hondas. ;)

Next: Day Thirteen

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

2006 Day 11

No big riding today, just a little local Pigeon Forge shopping with the gals. Amazon business today. There is celebration in the evening as Lisa becomes our newest Sister - welcome Nemo!

Next: Day Twelve

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

2006 Day 10

Head down to Chattanooga today, to see the Chickamauga battlefield. Stormy and Joker accompany me. The battle site itself is sprawling; part of the road follows the Union entrenched line and the Confederate soldier ghosts charge out of the woods on my left, in my imagination. We run out of time (I would have liked to dwell a while on Lookout Mountain) when the weather starts to threaten quite severely. Here comes the thunder.

Somehow I've gotten turned around - usually I'm a good navigator, but the mountains have confused me - and I lead the gals in the wrong direction, and even get on I-75 heading the wrong way. Takes me three exits to realise my mistake, and we turn around, only to head into a dark-looking storm filled with streaks of crackling lightning. In less than 10 miles I pull us off again, in a Circle-K parking lot, to discuss what we collectively want to do. We vote to don our raingear and go on. Looks like we're gonna get hella wet.

The downpour really comes when we are navigating the hairiest part of Chattanooga proper - I-75 merges with I-24, and trucks are changing lanes, and lanes are appearing and disappearing. Visibility is cut to almost nil, with the driving rain and the spray from the tires. I ride with my visor open and my glasses down on my nose, which is the best I can do and still I can see almost nothing. This is some of the scariest riding I've ever done, and lookit here, now a truck is coming over into my lane. My options are: a) stay where I am and get squashed, b) nail the throttle & try to get out of the way, or c) brake hard and risk a wreck from behind. I choose acceleration. Stormy goes with me, Joker can't, and we lose her in the traffic & zero visibility. I just want the hell OUTTA HERE and apparently Stormy feels the same way, she signals me to exit. Unfortunately the next offramp is a big swoopy curving one so Joker won't be able to see us getting off the road. Ah shit. There's a BP a half a block up and that's where Stormy and I take cover. This rain is so bad, the CARS are pulling off. We end up waiting for half an hour for the rain to slack.

Turns out Joker rode it out, and got out of the rain after ten miles or so. She is pissed at me for losing her, and I feel bad, but honestly don't know what else I could have done. Sometimes, all the choices suck.

I'm more happy than I can possibly express that everyone has made it back safe and sound.

On our way back, finally out of the rain, Stormy and I stop for fireworks at a local pyrotechnic stand. (My favorite? A 16-load combo box named "One Bad Mother.") We have LOTS of fun setting them off for the 'Zons after dark, while also trying to evade the security guard who has come to stop us. Hee hee hee.

Next: Day Eleven

Monday, July 03, 2006

2006 Day 9

A bunch of us decide to go ride Hwy 129, the Tail of the Dragon, so we head out in the morning. We get a little lost on the way; wait, do I turn right or left to stay on 73? The sign says both!! (Tennessee roads can be notoriously confusing.) We eventually locate the Foothills Parkway, which leads us to the overlook. We stop for photos, then ride the 11 twisty miles down to the resort. Man, the burgers at the Gap always taste so good. It's only later that we find out that Stormy didn't know she'd been on the Dragon ... she was worrying if the road was this winding, how bad was the Dragon gonna be? LOL

We buy shirts, stickers, souvenirs to commemorate our Dragonslayer status, and then head back to Pigeon Forge via the Cherohala and Tellico Plains. Stormy's had enough of twisties (she's not feeling too hot) and opts against returning the way we came. No problem; this longer route ends up being a little faster anyway.

Next: Day Ten

Sunday, July 02, 2006

2006 Day 8

Leaving Athens, the Amazons travel up through the Smokies to reach our rental cabin digs in Pigeon Forge TN. The scenery is beautiful (oh, how I love Tennessee) but the traffic is HIDEOUS, especially through the town of Cherokee, which is having their annual tribal thing. Small-town traffic jams can be the worst; they take forever to clear out.

The traffic in Pigeon Forge itself is no better. The main drag is choked for miles. We are exhausted by the time we reach the bbq restaurant to chow down, and then head up the hill to the cabin, a road that is QUITE intimidating.

Next: Day Nine

Saturday, July 01, 2006

2006 Day 7

Today, I take the wee beastie off to Athens Cycle for needed service while the rest of the Amazons head off to the AMA Women In Motorcycling conference. I don't get to the convention center until mid-afternoon, pretty much all I have time to do is look around for a bit and meet up with a few friends who are here.

Next: Day Eight