2,171 miles and a windy finish

The rain that had plagued us on Friday was replaced with morning sunshine in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Cooler temperatures also had rolled in, and would set the tone for the day.  Our trip had varied from daytime temperatures from the low 60s to the mid 90s, and we would end the trip with layers of clothing on as we rode.

The first order of business was breakfast, and the Fairfield Inn we stayed at only offered the traditional continental fare; the closest thing to hot food would be the packets of Quaker Instant Oatmeal that was offered, or nuking a cold hard boiled egg that was available for consumption.  Neither sounded appetizing to either of us, so we walked next door to the Cracker Barrel, which is usually a safe bet.  Arriving at 6am, which is also the time that they open, we found the doors locked.  Slowly, over the next fifteen minutes, other diners accompanied us on their porch, utilizing the provided rocking chairs while my wife finally called the restaurant to find out if they were planning to open.  Eventually somebody showed up to unlock the doors inside, to the delight of over twenty hungry travelers.

Forty-five minutes after we had ordered, the food still had not arrived.  Other patrons were also getting restless, and after hearing that they had dropped my ordered country friend steak three times on the floor and had to start over, we tired of their lies and left. The manager extended the coffee we had drank as a free token of his hospitality, and as we walked out, others did as well.  I CANNOT recommend the Cracker Barrel in Bowling Green to anybody…the service was non-existent, they opened their doors fifteen minutes late, and the waitresses aren’t truthful to their patrons.  Avoid this restaurant, and give somebody else your business.

We found the local McDonald’s to give breakfast a third try, and we were successful.  With full stomachs, we headed north on I-65; destination: home.  Today’s ride got windier the closer we got to Indiana, and once in the Hoosier state, it seemed that the wind hit with a vengeance as we were getting closer to having the trip expire.

No big plans were on the itinerary today; our focus was to ride, ride, ride.  Rest areas were visited, and we bypassed Louisville Harley-Davidson; one reason was the road construction slowing traffic to a crawl, and the other was the fact we had visited this dealership numerous times on other road trips.  We did stop at Mann’s HD in Edinburgh, Indiana…but nothing found its way to our bike, and after a stop at Taco Bell to fuel the body again, we finished the ride home.

2,171 miles was the total from out the driveway to back into the garage.  No issues to speak of regarding the Ultra Classic, other than some minor things like a loose clutch cable that will be tomorrow’s project, and a floorboard cover that came loose when we were ready to start the Blue Ridge Parkway leg of our adventure that was easily tightened in a gas station parking lot.  With no mechanical breakdowns or injuries to my wife or I, it truly was a fantastic trip in that regard.

Overall gas mileage is estimated at close to 34 MPG; not bad with all the weight the bike carried, and the hills, mountains, “slam on the brake” curves, and strong headwinds all the way home we had encountered.  Tonight’s project is to download the thousands of photos my wife and I took throughout the trip, delete the uninteresting ones, and perhaps do some photo editing on the best ones.  I’ll do a few blog entries with photos and captions of some of the interesting ones as time comes up.

Friday night in Bowling Green

Light intermittent showers are what we awoke to in Knoxville, Tennessee at the Microtel Inn. Never stayed at this hotel chain before; it’s a pretty basic room, with very basic breakfast. We packed the bike during a period of dryness, and set out on I-40 westward towards Nashville. We had debated whether we should take the route through Lexington home, but have already visited all the HD dealers on that path in the past, and figured we should go in a different direction.

The plan for the day was to hit more new HD dealers. In the mountain range between Knoxville and Cookeville, we ran into heavy rain and pea-sized hail for over thirty minutes. One of those soakings that rainwear just doesn’t matter as the water eventually gets to the skin. We finally found a rest area where we could hide under a picnic shelter house until the rain lessened enough to continue on. The Cookeville HD dealer was a welcome sight, and the rain disappeared while there. A new shirt and shot glass found their way into the bike, and we continued on to Ring of Fire HD in Nashville. Lunch was found across the street at Ryan’s Buffet, which will hold us the rest of the evening. Two shirts and another shot glass found their way onto the bike, which is now spilling over with old and new clothing.

Finding I-65, we started north and stopped at Bowling Green HD, where two more shirts, a shot glass, and a brand new set of rain gear for the wife was acquired. Rain gear is never on sale for a decent percentage off, but the clothing manger offered it a really nice Hi-Viz set that is usually $189 to my wife at 50% off due the fact that it had some small fading spots from originally being hung near a outside window and the sun had bleached it in small areas. The old rain gear went into the bike, and now the wife will be wearing the high end set for future trips in bad weather.

We called one of our friends from the original break off group that was together after the DC ride. Apparently the group continues to splinter, as we are now at least four separate groups, each finding their way home. The group farthest to the east received even more rain than we did, and took shelter in a restaurant for hours waiting for it to subside. On one of the rides the main group did, we heard they went into a curve on the Snake too fast and the bike went down. Apparently only minor injuries were received, but the bike sustained a good amount of damage and they broke off to limp home. Hopefully they get home ok.

Home is on the radar for tomorrow, even with the rain we see on the radar out west. We’ll make calls to our friends when we get in tomorrow evening, to ensure that all found their ways back safely.